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I am an English teacher from Soochow University, China. I’m very lucky to come to UC-Boulder as a visiting scholar in an election year in the U.S. If Mitt Romney’s aggressive performance at the first presidential debate is acceptable, Joe Biden’s demeanor at the first and only vice presidential debate is totally unacceptable and disappointing.

Debate should happen between equal debaters or opponents. But throughout the debate, Joe Biden either smiled, laughed off or sneered at Paul Ryan’s views, or looked up and rolled up his eyes, not showing any slightest respect for the young politician. If such a person as Joe Biden is elected as the vice president, how can he be expected to reach across the aisle and cooperate with the other party? How can young voters expect Joe Biden to turn an ear to their opinions? How can the rest of the world expect the administration led by such a condescending and haughty man like Joe Biden to engage with other countries, especially the small, underdeveloped countries?

Debaters should follow rules, just as people are supposed to follow the rules of any game. But during the vice presidential debate, Joe Biden kept interrupting Paul Ryan without waiting for him to finish his time, despite Ryan’s polite reminder that the audience would be better served if Joe Biden behaved otherwise. If he did not follow the rules of debate, how can he be expected to follow the rules of other games? If he was so impatient in debate, how could he be expected to listen to voters’ viewpoints?

The rest of the world admires U.S. democracy very much and people do enjoy a high degree of freedom of speech in U.S. But at the vice presidential debate, Joe Biden seemed to forget the well-known quote — “I disapprove what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Is Joe Biden the Uncle Sam the rest of the world is looking up to?

Dong Chengru, visiting scholar at CU in linguistics, associate professor at Soochow University in China


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