by Thomas Ryan
At one point during last night’s vice-presidential debate, Martha Raddatz questioned both candidates on the overwhelmingly negative tone of the campaign. Rep. Ryan could simply have responded,
“Martha, you need look no further than the rudeness, the disrespect, and the condescension the vice-president of the United States has shown this evening not just toward me, but toward all of the American people. His derisive laughter, his constant interrupting are not ‘debate tactics.’ They expose the contempt Mr. Biden has for me and for Governor Romney. His behavior further exposes the contempt he has for the American people who are eager to hear about the substantive differences between our policies. And you know, Martha, the vice-president also shows disrespect and condescension toward the American people when he looks directly into the camera and patently and blatantly lies about the tragedy in Benghazi, his own voting record on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even his administration’s cooked unemployment numbers.
Earlier today, in sworn testimony, intelligence officials carefully explained that they informed Obama and Biden’s administration within 24 hours of the Benghazi attack that this was a direct terrorist act against the United States. Yet Mr. Biden claims it was the intelligence community that lied to them, claiming it was a “spontaneous demonstration” triggered by a movie trailer. It couldn’t possibly be that his administration wanted to cover up the fact that Al Qaeda is alive, well, and increasing in reach and influence throughout Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Indonesia during the past four years of his adminstration’s foreign policy.
And Martha, the documented paper trail clearly contains repeated requests for additional security for our ambassador and the American detachment in Benghazi; requests that were directly and repeatedly ignored by Obama and Biden’s State Department. In fact, security was significantly decreased over the last few months leading up to the anniversary of 9-11 in one of the hot-bed areas of the world. Yet Mr. Biden claims “we didn’t know.” Mr. Biden also claims that he voted against both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. Yet the Senate record clearly shows that he, in fact, voted in favor of both actions.
And what American living in the real world and not some tweaked politically-influenced financial model believes that the American economy grew in September at the fastest rate in over thirty years? Yet, Mr. Biden looks directly in the camera and claims, “Unemployment is going down. The economy is going in the right direction.” Martha, as I said earlier, fewer jobs were created in September than in August, and fewer jobs were created in August than July. The overall economy is growing slower this year than last year; and last year was slower than the year before. These numbers clearly show that we are NOT moving in the right direction. But Americans need only look at their friends and neighbors, at their communities and their congregations, and even at their own paychecks to know that we are not moving in the right direction. To claim otherwise is an insult.
Now Martha, we can, and do, have valid disagreements over how much control the government should have over our lives; whether as President Obama and Mr. Biden believe, we serve the government or whether as Governor Romney and I believe, the government is there to protect and serve all Americans. We can disagree on whether its right for government to violate personal property rights to rob from Peter to give to Paul…as long as Paul is a campaign donor or belongs to the right voting constituency. We can disagree on whether as President Obama and Mr. Biden believe, poverty is merely a problem of not having enough money or whether as Governor Romney and I believe, poverty is a problem of spirit and that the wholeness of the person must be considered in any valid proposal to help America’s poor. Martha, I’ve been broke many times but I’ve never been poor. We can disagree regarding moral and ethical ways to care for the sick and the elderly. But Mr. Biden’s rudeness, disrespect, and lies do not further this debate. They expose the shallowness of President Obama and Mr. Biden through their efforts to distract American’s from the critically important decision we, as a country, face this November.
Martha, my prayer is for this country. My prayer is for all Americans. And my prayer is for President Obama and Mr. Biden. That all of us can come together. That all of us will clearly examine the choices before us. And that all of us will choose to turn our backs on rudeness, disrespect, and lies, and instead embrace and respect the dignity and honor of every American and give every American the opportunity to make of themselves whatever they, with faith in and guidance from their creator, choose.”
As a Monday-morning-quarterback, that is what I wish Rep. Ryan would have said. But then again, maybe not. During the debate, Rep. Ryan upheld his Catholic, mid-western values. Rep. Ryan treated Mr. Biden with respect, even in the face of blatant rudeness. On substance, I believe Rep. Ryan won the debate. As for Mr. Biden, perhaps he should go back to Parochial school and have the nuns slap a ruler on his knuckles until he learns to treat people with respect. His behavior last night was an insult to all Catholics, and to all Christians, when he claimed, “My faith informs who I am.” His actions last night were anything but Christian.
© 2012 Thomas Ryan