Verbal misdeeds: the Biden-Ryan debate

Politicians are known to bend the truth, so always be careful before you buy into their claims. Consider the recent Biden-Ryan debate. Both men proved themselves Pinnochios repeatedly. Let’s take the issue of abortion, for example.

According to Ryan, Biden went to China and said he sympathized and wouldn’t second-guess their one-child policy of forced abortions and serializations.”

Not true! Yes, Biden did visit Sechuan University in 2011 and in response to a student question as to how the U.S. planned to reduce its deficit, replied by reforming entitlement programs such as Medicare. He then used a cost analogy that China also faces with regard to its social programming, given its one child policy. “As I was talking to some of your leaders, you share a similar concern here in China. You have no safety net. Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family. The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable.”

Surely there’s no endorsement of, or sympathy for, abortion going on here, and forced abortions happen to be illegal in China anyway, though it occasionally occurs. Of course, you can argue Biden missed an opportunity of criticizing China’s one child policy, but his purpose was to indicate that on the matter of debt China faces similar problems in sustaining entitlement programs.

But let me play fair and point out how Biden also sometimes blurred the truth in the debate. At the outset, moderator Martha Raddatz asked Biden if what happened at the American consulate in Benghazi constituted a breakdown in intelligence sources. Biden largely skirted the question, saying that the administration simply relied on what it was first told. When pressed by Raddatz’s assumption that the consulate “wanted more security there,” Biden responded, “Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security there.”

This is false, as the subsequent House hearing indicated when Eric Norstrom, a state department employee, testified he had informed his superiors on two occasions that the Libyan mission needed more security. More specifically, as the regional security office for Libya, he had made a cable request for twelve guards, along with military trainers. His testimony was confirmed by Charlene Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department.

Nordstrom went on to say, “It’s not the hardships. It’s not the gunfire. It’s not the threats. It’s dealing and fighting against the people, programs, and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me.”

You can argue, of course, that Biden meant that the White House itself wasn’t aware of any such requests, but then again, isn’t the State Department an integral component of White House policy?

I could point out other flagrant abuses of the truth on both sides, but you get my point, I hope, that when it comes to politicians, check and double check

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.
Jack jump over the fibber’s stick.

Aside from the recent debate, I get annoyed with the myriad campaign ads that attempt to manipulate through fear: Re-elect Obama and Iran will get the bomb. Or Romney will destroy Medicare. Et cetera ad infinitum.

Politicians are astute in appealing to fear seeded with falsehood to obtain or keep themselves in power. By being vigilant, you and I can avoid becoming their victims.

By the way, I’d be interested in hearing what annoys you most about politicians.

Be well,


Author: RJ

Retired English prof (Ph. D., UNC), who likes to garden, blog, pursue languages (especially Spanish) and to share in serious discussion on vital issues such as global warming, the role of government, energy alternatives, etc. Am a vegan and, yes, a tree hugger enthusiastically. If you write me, I'll answer.

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