What the world needs from Joe Biden: A week went by before we saw it.
Yesterday, we finally saw a major pundit explain what was wrong with last Wednesday’s performance. Dee Dee Myers did the honors on Hardball.
In our view, she got it right:
MYERS (10/10/12): The president’s problem wasn't that he was too polite. The president’s problem was that he didn’t come with a strong narrative frame, right, both for defending his own accomplishments and his own record, giving us some idea of where we’re going in the next term and holding Mitt Romney accountable for having 87 positions on every issue.What does she mean by “a “narrative frame?” Essentially, she means this: You have to have a central point, a central claim you’re making.
Yes, it gets repetitive, but if you continue to frame the issue, you know, in a more elegant way, which we know the president’s capable of, you can remind the audience over and over, because Mitt Romney has flip-flopped over and over.
So, I hope we see not only a— And the president can remain polite. I just hope we see a more aggressive defense and a better frame, a better narrative around who he is and what he’s done and where we’re going as a country.
Last Wednesday, one of the candidates had such a frame. The other candidate had agreed to take a couple of questions.
Mitt Romney had a basic claim. Here's what it was: That fellow over there is a nice enough guy. But he can’t do the job. I can! Just listen to all my ideas!
Obama had no central point. He had agreed to take questions.
As incumbents in a difficult time, Obama and Biden face a tough task. But they have to be making some sort of a point. As incumbents, there are three basic approaches they could take:
Approaches Obama and Biden could take:Obama had no narrative focus—no central claim. Tonight, we need one from Biden.
They could stress the things they’ve achieved over the past four years.
They could stress the things they plan for the next four years. (Problem: They don’t seem to have any such plans.)
They could stress the three million things that are wrong with Candidate Romney.
One final point: If you’re going to say what’s wrong with the other guy, you have to know what the other guy’s saying. Last Wednesday, Obama chose to make Romney’s tax proposal the centerpiece of his early statements.
But Obama seemed hugely unprepared. He seemed surprised by the things Romney said, even though Romney has said those same things many times in the past. Beyond that, what was his central claim about Romney?
Candidate Obama was disastrously under-prepared.
Obama has a very tough day job—and everybody screws up at some point. But the lack of prep was disastrous last week. Tonight, Biden needs to assert a strong central point.
Dee Dee Myers got it right. Let’s hope Biden does too.
Matt Miller got it right: We still think Matt Miller did a good job defining a central framework for Biden. To peruse his "primer for Biden," click here.