10/2/08

Thoughts on the debate...

I was planning on going to bed early tonight to start making up for all sleep I somehow can't get but I decided to stay up and watch the vice presidential debates. I chose Fox but also switched to CNN for the post debate wrap ups.

Right away you need to know that I'm not crazy about these "debates". I'm not convinced they're debates at all but rather question and answer sessions where, more often than not, the emphasis is on answers and not questions. "Senator Smith what do you think about energy policy?" "Well, thank you for asking, as I've said before we need to provide health care for every American..." And I think, as well, that most people watch them like they watch car races, that is they put up with the going around in circles in the hope they may witness a crash.

But I did notice a couple of things. Sen. Biden has spooky eyes. I don't know who did his makeup but when he looked at the camera he often looked like the grumpy old man who used to live down the street and yell at kids when they came on his lawn. I know he didn't intend that but it was the first thing I picked up on. And Gov. Palin came awful close, at times, to sounding like "church lady" from the old Saturday Night Live. Again, I don't think she was trying but it did come out that way.

I thought Sen. Biden was at his best when he spoke of the loss of his wife in the automobile accident. It was a very human moment and for me I wish we would get to see more of the person behind the persona in these debates so we can make a better choice. I thought Gov. Palin showed that she was up to the job. She didn't obviously have the broad depth of detail in her responses that comes with being in the Senate for decades but she did evoke confidence and the sense that she could quickly fill in the gaps. For a person who has been mercilessly hatcheted by the mainstream press in a way that would and never have happened for Sens. Obama and Biden it was a positive opportunity to present herself unedited and without National Enquirer type filters.

The problem for me in surveying these debates is that I don't fit in a single category. I'm sure those on the Left will say Sen. Biden won and those on the Right will give the nod to Gov. Palin. But in rough terms I'm a social conservative and a fiscal liberal. I believe in traditional faith, traditional values, and traditional culture and as part of that I see the need for the power of the state to be used, at times, to assist the poor, protect the environment, and use its wealth for the common good. I believe in neither the hyper or the laisze faire state. I believe that personal morality and decency is what keeps us from tyranny or anarchy. I'm pro life but i know it means more then just being against the injustice of abortion. I sometimes think the Democrat party has abandoned me on the fronts of faith and morality and the Republican party on the questions of the larger social contract.

In the past I've used the issue of abortion as a kind of litmus test in the belief that a person who supports the fundamental right to life can, at least, be drawn to better things based on that understanding but a person who believes that the State and not God is the source of human rights (and this is a core of the abortion argument) has the potential to do great harm. I've also looked at how they would appoint judges because I believe in the current political climate the freedom to practice my faith can be changed in an instant depending on who sits on any given court. So I sit back and digest it all knowing that one person will never fit all my criteria and they and I will be making imperfect choices.

Having said all that I will go to bed. I know which of the two human beings I will be voting for and the debate didn't reverse that choice. But I'm glad for the fact that we still have the right to debate and make the choice.

I pray I make a good one.


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