The debate between Vice President Joseph Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan was an uneven affair with the latter trying to debate while the former was trying his best to derail it. Commentators from both sides have referred to Biden’s performance, alternately, as “pugnacious,” “crude,” “aggressive,” “interruptive,” and “disrespectful.”
The most revealing moment was when both were required not to debate, but to articulate their positions, as Catholics, on abortion. Ryan acknowledged that his faith deeply forms him, but that is only one factor that goes into shaping his pro-life views. He explained that “reason and science” provide him with sufficient justification to affirm the humanity of the unborn and its need for protection.
Biden stated the he accepts the Catholic Church’s teaching that life begins at conception, but that he refuses “to impose [that view] on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews.” “I do not believe,” he went on to say, “that we have the right to tell other people, women, that they cannot control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor, in my view, and the Supreme Court.”
I was struck by his concept of “not imposing,” this overused phrase that was created to excuse inaction, but results in banishing the Good Samaritan. Nonetheless, Vice President Biden hardly seems reluctant to impose things on people.
Consider the Health and Human Services mandate, which he approves, that imposes the purchase of contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs on Catholics, thereby violating their constitutionally guaranteed right to religious liberty. When Ryan brought this to Biden’s attention, a policy that ignores the fundamental freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment, and alluded to the flurry of lawsuits this imposition has provoked, Biden simply denied its reality. (A denial roundly criticized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops after the debate.) He then went on to boast to the American people how proud he is to be an “honest” person and how he never says what he does not mean.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List, expressed shock at Biden’s facile denial of the undeniable and then congratulating himself for his integrity: “Vice President Biden grossly misled the viewers and brushed over legitimate objections by people of all faiths to this administration’s unprecedented assault on religions organizations and individuals. The HHS preventative services mandate forces Americans of faith and conscience to violate their beliefs and be directly responsible for paying for insurance programs which cover their abortion-inducing drugs. Coverage for such drugs is not preventative women’s healthcare and the vice president’s response tonight demonstrates a shocking disregard for our first freedom.”
Biden, it turns out, is opposed to the right to life of the unborn, but he is not opposed to offending the legitimate rights of people who have been born. In other words, he ends up being opposed to the rights of everyone.
The vice president is an indiscriminate “imposer,” if not an “imposter.” Pro-life people do not “impose” their views on others. They defend life and propose that the state and others should do the same. If defending life is an act of unacceptable imposition, then how can anyone be involved in any form of public service?
Biden is on record stating that he would not “second guess” China’s widespread practice forced abortions and sterilizations. Apparently, he sees no imposition here, but, on the other hand, finds the effort to protect and defend innocent life as “imposing.” His admission that he would not “second guess” China’s brutal policy indicates that his political stance is closer to that of Pontius Pilate than to a conscientious public servant.
Biden and Ryan are both Baptized and self-confessed Catholics. Unfortunately, there is little, if anything “Catholic” about Biden’s position on abortion and his willingness to infringe upon the rights of Catholics in the United States. The term “Catholic” cannot be stretched broadly enough to cover such antithetic views on life, right, and morality.
To believe that the effort to prevent life from premature extinction is tantamount to “imposing one’s personal values,” requires that the narrow idea of non-involvement eclipse human dignity and authentic rights. And to believe that violating the religious liberty of others is acceptable is not to be, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, “soaked in religion,” it is rather to be limited by the dull view of political and ideological self-interest.
For those familiar with the issues, Biden, the Bully, did not so much as lose the debate, but, in my view, lost his credibility.