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He didn’t save the Obama campaign.

A pre-debate shake in Danville, Ky., October 12, 2012

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Conrad Black

The whole debate on abortion is nonsense, because the laws are not going to change much, if at all. The state should not have or seek to have the right to force childbirth on a woman who doesn’t want to have a child, but Joe Biden is trying to suck and blow at the same time. He can’t swaddle himself in fidelity to the Holy See while playing footsie for 40 years with the abortion industry that largely considers disposing of a fetus to be morally indistinguishable from throwing out a dishrag. He isn’t just not imposing his wishes on people of different views; he is supporting abortion on demand at the taxpayers’ expense, and even at the expense of the Roman Catholic Church and the believers who support and fund it (presumably including himself when the collection plate gets to him). This is just hypocrisy. Abortions will occur and those that do occur should be socially unstigmatizing and medically as safe as possible.

The Roman Catholic Church, and especially the late pope, took away the free lunch of the pro-choicers (i.e., pro-abortionists), who used to enjoy a two-to-one public-opinion advantage, and now it is an even-split question. It is a political question only because the administrations and Congresses have dodged the issue in a cowardly abdication that presaged their performance in illegal immigration and a number of other major public-policy areas that it is their duty to address, and dumped it into the lap of the courts. Ryan’s stance on the issue probably bagged less support from viewers than Biden’s, but his integrity and consistency, compared with Biden’s sanctimonious waffling, probably made up for that.

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As physical and behavioral candidates, Ryan won; he was an attractive, intelligent, and courteous young man. Joe Biden was what he is — a period piece, a havering, querulous, self-righteous (though somewhat amiable) hack, smiling derisively and constantly interrupting and speaking unintelligibly over his opponent. The pre-programmed Democratic response boomed forth that the “experienced” Biden had routed his opponent on Afghanistan and abortion. But all that can be said for the Democrats is that their candidate, on balance, was deemed by reasonably impartial people, even pro-Democratic CNN, to have drawn against his challenger, whose selection by Romney in August the Democrats greeted with window-rattling ululations of triumph because of Ryan’s supposed extremism and amateurism.

Two debates have gone and two remain. They are clearly going to have a large influence on the outcome and have sharply reshaped the polls. A 40-year congressional veteran prepped six days, a long holiday from a (not inconsolably deprived) campaign trail, and drew with a man a generation younger whom he failed to portray as a political and religious primitivist. In policy terms, the takeaways from the first two debates are the confirmation that this regime has no defense of its record except to attack a man who rode into the sunset nearly four years ago, from whom it inherited a country in better condition than it is now; and that the alternative Republican administration will propose a serious program of tax reductions, spending reductions, and tax and entitlement reforms that will finally grapple with the deficit, and that a Republican administration will do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. The choice is clear, and America and the world do not need another four years of Joe Biden as vice president. He performed adequately as the buffer between the incumbent and a President Pelosi and a President Boehner, but the country can do better, in both national offices, and the polls, albeit by a thin margin, indicate that it will. Mr. Vice President, you’re no Lloyd Bentsen.

— Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, and, just released, A Matter of Principle. He can be reached at [email protected].



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