WASHINGTON -- As I looked over the transcript of the vice presidential debate, the first thing that came to mind was David Mamet. The second was "Cupcake Wars."
If the first presidential debate featured staid, soporific set pieces, each candidate ponderously reciting talking points, the vice presidential matchup was vintage Mamet, marked by choppy dialogue and characters sharing the same stage yet fated never to fully connect.
Indulge me with a telling excerpt, on Mitt Romney's plan for a 20 percent cut in marginal tax rates:
Moderator Martha Raddatz: Well, let's talk about this 20 percent. You have refused -- and, again -- to offer specifics on how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Do you actually have the specifics? Or are you still working on it, and that's why you won't tell voters?
Paul Ryan: Different than this administration, we actually want to have big bipartisan agreements. You see, I understand the ...
Raddatz: Do you have the specifics? Do you have the ...
Joe Biden: That would -- that would be a first for the Republican Congress.
Raddatz: Do you know exactly what you're doing?
Ryan: Look -- look at what Mitt Romney -- look at what Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did. They worked together out of a framework to lower tax rates and broaden the base, and they worked together to fix that ... [paragraph deleted for space]
Copyright 2012 Washington Post Writers Group