The consensus among media types this morning appears to be that Joe Biden trounced Paul Ryan on the abortion question in last night’s debate. In reality, it was the exact opposite.
I have seldom heard a politician give a more moving, convicting, personal, emotional, and truthful answer on the sanctity of human life than did Ryan last night. At the same time, he did so in a way that won’t alienate moderates on the abortion issue. He threaded the needle beautiful, taking an unabashed pro-life stand in a winsome way:
You want to ask basically why I’m pro-life? It’s not simply because of my Catholic faith. That’s a factor, of course, but it’s also because of reason and science. You know, I think about 10 and ½ years ago, my wife Janna and I went to Mercy Hospital in Jamesville where I was born for our 7-week ultrasound for our first-born child. We saw that heartbeat. Our little baby was in the shape of a bean. And to this day, we have nicknamed our first-born child, Liza, “Bean.” Now I believe that life begins at conception. Those are the reasons why I’m pro-life …
… What troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they’re doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They’re infringing upon our first freedom — the freedom of religion — by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals. Our church should not have to sue the federal government to maintain our religious liberties.
Biden’s answer on the abortion question was the same line that most Democrats give. He claimed to have accepted the Catholic’s teaching on abortion “in his personal life.” The logical conclusion, then, is that our vice president believes that life begins at conception, and thus abortion is the taking of a human life and tantamount to murder. But then he said that, as a matter of policy, he can’t enforce his personal views on others.
To sum up: Biden admitted that abortion is murder while also admitting that he doesn’t possess the courage requisite to do anything about it. From a moral standpoint, that’s a far more dubious position than pro-choicers who believe that an unborn child isn’t human. At least they have an ethical leg to stand on. What is incomprehensible is a man who admits that an unborn child is human, yet won’t raise a finger to stop the willful destruction of that life.
My overall sense of the debate is that Biden over-corrected for the president’s passive performance in last week’s debate. Had he not acted so rudely, the general consensus very well might have been that he won. As it stands, the general feeling is a draw, trending toward a win for Ryan.
Peggy Noonan put it just about right in her column this morning: “Last week Mr. Obama was weirdly passive. Last night Mr. Biden was weirdly aggressive, if that is the right word for someone who grimaces, laughs derisively, interrupts, hectors, rolls his eyes, browbeats and attempts to bully.”
Moderator Martha Raddatz did her best to play interference for the Obama administration. There were several instances when Ryan was just beginning to make an excellent point when Raddatz would interrupt and steer the conversation down a path far more favorable to team Obama. A prime example is, again, on the abortion question. When Ryan began to make the point about Catholic hospitals suing the Obama administration, Raddatz quickly switched gears by asking whether pro-choice Americans should fear a Romney presidency – a question that had to have pleasured Biden immensely, since it took the heat off him.