I thought Biden lost hands down, coming across as a snide, rude, condescending, blowharded buffoon, while Ryan appeared presidential and gave measured, polite, substantive responses.
As somebody said on one of the radio talk shows this morning, watching the debate was like watching someone try to carry on an intelligent conversation with a drunk at a bar.
Then again, I’ve never for the life of me understood why people don’t always see the Biden we saw amplified last night. And I’ve never been able to figure out why people aren’t frightened to death of the prospect of Biden as president.
All that aside, and on to our issue, I thought moderator Martha Raddatz’s question on abortion was great, quite pointed. It was just too bad she had Ryan answer first, and it was too bad she didn’t make Biden actually answer her question:
Raddatz: This debate is indeed historic. We have two Catholic candidates, first time on a stage such as this, and I would like to ask you both to tell me what role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion. Please talk about how you came to that decision. Talk about how your religion played a part in that. And please, this is such an emotional issue for so many… people in this country. Please talk personally about this if you could. Congressman Ryan.
Read the transcript of their responses here.
Bearing in mind that Ryan was speaking to undecideds and independents, his answer was for the most part good. He started by humanizing preborn children at a very young age. ABC listed this as one of the top 10 quotes of the night:
[A]bout 10 1/2 years ago, my wife Janna and I went to Mercy Hospital in Janesville where I was born for our seven-week ultrasound for our firstborn child, and we saw that heartbeat. Our little baby was in the shape of a bean, and to this day, we have nicknamed our firstborn child, Liza, “Bean.”
Ryan struck the Obama administration on the religious freedom issue as it pertains to Obamacare. He struck the Democrat Party for being extreme on abortion (“The Democratic Party used to say they want it to be safe, legal and rare. Now they support it without restriction and with taxpayer funding, taxpayer funding in Obamacare, taxpayer funding with foreign aid.”), and he pointed out Biden’s own extremism on abortion, wheren he condoned China’s one-child policy.
My quibble would be that Ryan didn’t go far enough in exposing Obama’s extremism on abortion – opposing the Born Alive Act (which Biden supported), opposing the Partial- Birth Abortion Ban, opposing parental notification, opposing a ban on sex selective abortions, opposing a ban on abortions after babies can feel pain – any and all of which the public would be horrified to learn.
Ryan could have also done a touché on abortion flip-flopping by pointing out Biden’s remarkable “evolution” on abortion. (Funny how the media doesn’t notice that.)
But Ryan did well enough. My only real regret is the Romney/Ryan ticket’s support of abortions for rape and incest.
Biden’s response to the question was fallacious. He began by agreeing that “[l]ife begins at conception. That’s the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.” Then the but: “But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and – I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman.”
Stop. A moderator experienced on the topic of abortion, or desirous to discuss it any deeper than on the surface level, would have made Biden explain how he believes life begins at conception but finds it is acceptable to allow someone to kill that life. As pro-life Democrat strategist Kirsten Powers tweeted:
Biden’s ‘i accept the church’s teaching that abortion is murder” but people shld be able to do it is 1 of the most specious args ever made
— kirsten powers (@kirstenpowers10) October 12, 2012
Biden also lied by denying Obamacare forces religious institutions to pay for abortions.
And Biden made a big deal out of Ryan’s personal opposition to abortion for rape and incest. “I just fundamentally disagree with my friend,” which is pretty impossible if one really believes life begins at conception.
Biden also reminded the audience that Roe is endangered if Obama isn’t reelected and gets to choose the next one or two justices, as is anticipated. Does that sound like someone who honestly believes life begins at conception? Of course not.
Oh, for a reporter who would actually delve in to this topic. The responses are always the same. Everyone knows what answers are coming. Why after almost 40 years of legalized abortion does no reporter ever ask a follow-up question of abortion proponents? Raddatz certainly had one for Ryan:
I want to go back to the abortion question here. If the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?
What are your thoughts? How do you think Ryan and Biden’s debate on abortion will impact the electorate?
[Photo of Biden via USA Today; photo of Ryan via ABC]