With the exception of Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Lane, no one in the media noticed Vice President Joe Biden’s attacks on Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s patriotism during Thursday’s debate.
Twice, Biden accused Romney and Ryan of hating America. The first instance came during a discussion of Iran: “I mean, these guys bet against America all the time,” Biden said, claiming–falsely–that President Barack Obama had “brought the entire world, including Russia and China” to support harsh sanctions against Iran. (In fact, the Obama administration won Russian and Chinese support only by exempting them from key anti-Iran sanctions.)
The second time came during a defense of the administration’s economic record: “I have never met two guys who are more down on America across the board,” Biden said, implying they are cheering for economic failure.
As Charles noted, Obama had once campaigned specifically on a promise never to attack his opponent’s patriotism. In June 2008, Obama declared: “I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign.”
Ryan repeatedly pointed out that Biden and Obama were running the kind of negative campaign that Obama, at least, had once rejected. The media–perhaps distracted by Biden’s bizarre mannerisms–missed Biden’s ugly attacks almost entirely. It goes without saying that if Ryan had questioned Biden’s patriotism in anything like the same way, that would have become an object of obsessive fascination for the media in post-debate analysis.