Friday, October 12, 2012

The VP debate for what it's worth

The vice president is a nonentity unless something bad happens to the president but anyway. Mildly interesting. Two Catholic politicians, different brands, different acts. One an old-school, clownish, extrovert bully Bad Catholic, more cultural than theological? The other young, cool and collected, probably fitting in with the Novus neocons. I don’t hate either style; both have their place though Biden’s obnoxiousness was annoying. (An observer: have a drink every time he condescendingly calls Ryan ‘my friend’.) I don’t care what religion the president is. I care about real positions. This is a dog-and-pony show.

Pick one of these personalities and substitute Ron Paul’s platform. Which one do you think would get us more votes now and in the next few years? Neither? Our guy’s been written off as a crazy uncle and besides he’s too old to keep campaigning. (Cracked: it seems if it were up to people online, he’d be president of the galaxy. Why the difference from real voting?) A new face?

Show of strength ‘for our security’. Dems try to sound like relative peace candidates, impressive if you don’t actually follow the news. Ryan of course is a neocon warmonger.

Ryan on Syria: don’t these people, American pols, ever learn? So you want to overthrow Assad, not really Muslim, in order to hand the country to real Muslims, thinking it will turn the country into an American colony? How’d that work out in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya?

So what if Iran has nukes? They can’t and won’t attack us. Mind your own business and the US capital is not Tel Aviv. A foreign country and the evangelicals should not be running our policy.

Why can’t the two sides agree to bring the soldiers home and cut the war budget, then use the peace windfall to ease seniors and other needy off welfare?

Remember that when mainstream pols talk about military and other spending cuts they don’t really mean cuts. They mean raise spending a little less.

Abortion: Ryan impressed me. Heartfelt. Except the official spin, in order to cadge moderate pro-abortion votes, about rape and incest, which doesn’t make any sense in principle (‘I have the right to kill you for what your father did’) and besides most abortions are for convenience. So I like him but he’s just as compromised as Biden. (I don’t hate Romney personally but he comes from a Rockefeller Republican background and was a pro-abortion governor, and his religion doesn’t care about the issue. As president he won’t change anything.) Biden’s face seems to confirm what I wrote yesterday: he’s a real Catholic but with a bad conscience. First, a sop to the lib base by mentioning Catholic Social Teaching™ (the holy welfare state). Tried to sound libertarian (‘I won’t force my beliefs on you’) but murder of course violates the libertarian no-harm principle so no sale.

Doesn’t change anything. The Catholic rank and file, because of a vague memory of CST and because of modern peer-pressure liberalism identified with CST, normally vote left. I still think the depression and the Dinkins effect (whites feel they did their duty in ’08 and can move on) will steer enough of those middling voters to the Rs this time. The Rs, right or wrong, already have the self-consciously orthodox, who actually go to church, in the bag.


  1. Wouldn't matter one way or the other even if he was a Republican instead of a Democrat. Biden is an empty suit.

  2. Daniel Larison:

    Another interesting part of the debate was what didn’t happen. Ryan wasn’t asked why a seven-term House member with no meaningful foreign policy experience should be elected to be next in line to the Presidency. Considering how much of the debate was spent on foreign policy and national security issues, the omission was even more remarkable. It would have been a natural question to ask, and it’s one that Ryan wouldn’t be able to answer easily. I assume that everyone already inclined to vote for the Republican ticket decided to overlook this months ago, but that’s not the point. There wasn’t much in Ryan’s answers last night that gave me confidence that he is prepared to become president if that should ever prove necessary.

  3. "The vice president is a nonentity unless something bad happens to the president but anyway."

    Well, it can turn somebody into the presumptive nominee next time out, unless he's a detestable troll with zero charisma (e.g., Dick Cheney). If Paul Ryan sticks around in politics and keeps winning most of his elections (and his past track record suggests that he will), expect to see more from him, for better or worse. It's a pity he's a lockstep Bush-era Republican on foreign policy, because I could almost stomach him as President if I only had to look at his domestic positions- not a real libertarian, but the kind of libertarian-leaning conservative who would mostly leave people alone... unless, of course, you happen to live in a foreign country, in which case you better start cleaning your bomb shelter.

    The debate is an interesting look, though, at the generation gap among practicing Catholics in America. Older Bad Catholics stay with the Church despite their misgivings because they were raised on the idea of One True Church; younger Catholics aren't really given that spiel anymore, so the only ones who really care to stay are the ones who take it fairly seriously. Joe Biden reminds me a little of some of my older relatives, while Paul Ryan would fit in quite nicely with a lot of the youngish friends I have from various Catholic groups (and yes, some of them have terrible ideas about foreign policy, too).


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