Another Thursday, another debate. This time, I think that the Obama campaign held its own, at least once Vice-President Biden quit smirking in his corner. Both candidates managed to get their talking points out (over and over) so, once again, the differences between the two parties could easily be seen.
Let’s cut to the chase.
Best Line of the Night Contest winner: Paul Ryan, with his rejoinder to Vice-President Biden’s dig about Mr. Romney’s 47% statement.
“Well, Joe, you sure know what it’s like to have something come out wrong.”
Worst Gaffe: Mr. Biden’s response to that.
“I always say what I mean.”
Bet the media are gonna have a field day with that one.
On to the issues, and two things that struck me.
First, Mr. Biden spent a lot of time proclaiming that, all his life, he has fought for the middle class. Medicare, Social Security, universal health care, all are sacred to him. Low cost student loans, mortgage deductions, the right to an education, free access to contraceptives and abortion—all good ideas. Bypassing Congress to allow children who were illegally brought here to stay—great stuff. The list of things that he is willing to fight for to bring to ordinary Americans seems endless.
Okay, seems like a coherent set of principles. Let’s turn to the war in Afghanistan.
“We are leaving in 2014.”
If Mr. Biden said this once, he said it 10 times, each time more clearly and more vehemently than the last. And why was it so important to let everyone know that the U.S. will be pulling out of Afghanistan?
“We found out in Iraq,” he explained, “that we must tell the leaders that we are leaving, so that they will step up to the plate.”
Mr. Biden got a little testy with Mr. Ryan when Ryan was complaining that the pull-down in Afghanistan was leaving fewer American soldiers to support each other in the field.
“The Afghanis are stepping up to the plate,” Mr. Biden informed the Congressman. “As we pull back, the Afghanis are accepting their responsibility and stepping up to the plate.”
Responsibility and stepping up to the plate seemed to be the watchwords of the evening. Mr. Biden even chided Mr. Ryan about responsibility, as well.
“You have a responsibility to give specifics.”
“You have a responsibility to seniors, to veterans, to the middle class.”
Mr. Biden was expounding on the responsibility of the Republican candidates and the need for foreign governments to step up to the plate for about the 100th time, when it finally struck my husband–
“Why is stepping up to the plate the right thing for the Afghanis and Iraqis to do, but not Americans?”
In other words, why does the need for taking responsibility for yourself stop at the U.S. border? Are the Afghanis and Iraqis so much more able than the average American citizen? What is it about Americans specifically that makes us need more ever-reaching government? Why is it that our elected leaders think that we are unable to step up to the plate? Why is it that our government doesn’t set end dates for any of its programs? Why is there is no plan for pull-back on any social safety nets, once their ends have been achieved? There is no mention of turning responsibility for anything back to Americans, once they have learned what to do/been brought back from the brink of disaster.
I don’t know how that struck anyone else, but I find that attitude condescending. I like to think that I and my fellow citizens are just as capable as anyone else in the world. That safety nets are just that: a means to prevent disaster, from which we are supposed to remove ourselves as soon as they’ve halted our free fall.
Then we are supposed to step up to the plate, and start swinging for the fences again.
On to the second item. One of Mr. Biden’s monologues provoked a visceral recoil. Mr. Biden had just completed a full-face statement to the camera on abortion rights. A direct appeal to American voters. He said,
“Think about it. Whoever is elected will be able to nominate at least two Supreme Court Justices.”
What I got from that statement was that, no matter what else is going on the world, make sure that you vote in order to keep your right to abortion. Ick. As I’ve stated in the past, I think that women should have access to abortion, but, I don’t think that issue is as important as getting our economy back on track, getting people back to work, and dealing with other countries out in the world. Especially since the circumstances leading to the need for an abortion (namely, sex and failure to use contraception) are entirely within a woman’s control. Even Romney/Ryan would not outlaw abortion for women who had no control in a particular situation (rape and incest).
Voting for a President so that he can nominate a Supreme Court Justice who will make sure to retain a woman’s right to abortion on demand, regardless of what laws the legislature enacts, so that she doesn’t have to accept responsibility for her own contraceptive duties, strikes me as just plain selfish. And encouraging others to vote that way while leering into a camera is just plain creepy.
Why won’t Mr. Biden tell American women that it’s time to step up to the plate? It’s been almost 40 years since Roe v. Wade, and far too many women of child-bearing age who should know better still use abortion as their primary means of birth control. Where is the call for them to begin to accept responsibility?
If not on abortion, will there ever be any issue on which Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden would be willing to cede control back to the American people? Will they ever have enough confidence in us to require us to step up to the plate on anything? I found their unwavering paternalism unsettling before this debate; now I find their higher expectations for foreign nationals than for American citizens extremely insulting.
We owe it to ourselves to all step up to the plate, come November.
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