Well Alright Then

The Bob Beckel column I touched on earlier is getting early chatter from Ezra and Jonathan Cohn. Neither of them takes issue with the fact that Beckel’s entire premise is built on a demonstratable inaccuracy, that Obama either needs Clinton to bring women and hispanics on board or that Hillary brings new voters into the coalition that otherwise would vote for McCain (or at least does it without pushing away Obama leaning independents) but Cohn’s is way off base in its focus:

Still, it’s unquestionably helpful to have a running mate who is also a deft attacker. Think back to the last few presidential campaigns–and the moments for which the running mates are most memorable. Many of them involve the debates. We remember John Edwards and Joe Lieberman failing to deliver punches against Dick Cheney; going back a little further, we remember Lloyd Bensten absolutely devastating Dan Quayle with his famous line about Jack Kennedy.

I don’t have such a specific memory of Al Gore in either 1992 or 1996. But he was always a sharp debater and I do recall him making effective rhetorical attacks on Bush/Quayle in 1992, starting with his surprisingly good convention speech. Plus he had a memorable, and politically pivotal, role as Ross Perot’s sparring partner in a debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement that ran on Larry King Live.

So the two concrete examples he can come up with are Al Gore sparring with a third party candidate who didn’t get any electoral college votes, and Lloyd Bentsen’s debate with Dan Quayle?

Not to dwell on the obvious, but, Dukakis-Bensten lost the election by a margin of 315 electoral votes.