Hudson & Fournier: Catholic Countdown to Election 2012, Day 25. Substance and Smirks
devolved into a smirk and his incessant reference to his debate interlocutor as "friend" was condescending and seemed arrogant.
Ryan, the younger man, never took the older man's bait. He never descended into unpleasant mugging for the camera. Ryan came across as courteous, kind, smart, and very well prepared. Biden, on the other hand, acted like he was ready for a verbal brawl and looking for every opportunity to strike.
Biden was so unpleasant that, at times, he gave away one of his most winning qualities -- he's always seemed a likable guy -- even to those who disagree with him politically. He did, however, have his good moments, such as when he pointed out that Ryan had requested money from the stimulus package for his constituents.
Ryan's best moments were his clear responses to questions like the one concerning the future of social security -- when Ryan calls something an "indisputable fact" his expertise, especially in economic matters, is obvious. Biden's response was to ignore the coming bankruptcy of the program, look at the camera directly, and ask "seniors" to remember the level of benefits they are receiving.
Who is more compassionate? The man who wants to avoid the financial train wreck that is inevitable for both Social Security and Medicare, or the man who ignores what lies in the future, a future that will be faced by our children and grandchildren. This is a future that will not only have to deal with the possible loss of the "safety net" but also a crushing national debt that has tripled since the Obama/Biden ticket was elected.
It didn't help, by the way, that the moderator Martha Raddatz cut Ryan off in the middle of several of his best comments, unlike Jim Lehrer, the moderator of the previous debate, who was extremely fair. Raddatz did not interrupt Biden a single time that we can recall.
When Ryan pointedly asked Raddatz, "So you want to get into defense now?" it was an overdue pushback. And she didn't allow Ryan to elaborate on the budgetary issue she raised while letting Biden drone on and on.
At certain points in the debate, Raddatz completely lost control, allowed Biden to filibuster and, to his detriment, display a lack of manners. It was interesting to see the comparison of the number of minutes each of them had to speak after Biden's complaint during his closing statement. In fact, he had more time than Ryan.
Raddatz, however, should be thanked for her question about the two candidates Catholic faith and abortion; she gave Catholic voters a chance to watch and hear each candidate talk about what matters most. Ryan's answer was nearly perfect, referring not merely to the teaching of the Church but, as mentioned above, to the evidence of science and reason, as well as the personal experience of his family.
Biden gave the predictable answer of the Catholics in public life who have compromised on truth. He "refuses to impose" his personal religious beliefs on the American people -- the classic Drinan-Kennedy-Cuomo-Pelosi dance step. Biden further denied the violation of religious liberty caused by the HHS mandate and Raddatz cut Ryan off when he asked Biden why so many Catholic institutions were suing the Obama administration over the mandate.
Biden's brief excursus on the Supreme Court, his direct slap at Justice Scalia, further betrayed his sense of moral and intellectual superiority -- "we are open-minded" -- to conservatives in general and pro-lifers in particular. This embedded attitude is the source of the arrogance that continually emanates from the loftiness of the Obama/Biden message.
In fact, if any strong impression is left by this debate it is the contrast between arrogance and courtesy, between empty accusation and rational explanation, between religious duplicity and faithfulness.
Biden did himself no favors tonight, and Ryan showed himself to be a man worthy of being elected to help lead our nation.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Joe Biden, Paul Ryan, debate,
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