THE BLOG

Yes We Can... Lose

10/12/2012 09:41 am ET | Updated Dec 12, 2012

0-2, Mr. President

It was almost too painful to watch... again.

The vice president, a good and loyal man, could not be who he is not. It was all too awkward watching him, at the behest of some well-meaning coach no doubt, attempting to mimic Mitt Romney's contrived sincerity.

It was wrong to try and graft an unnatural smile, Sir, onto Joe.

Only Mitt can do that -- that is, hold a condescending smile for the length of an entire debate.

It was wrong to coach Joe to mockingly laugh when laughter was inappropriate.

Again, only Mitt can do that.

It was wrong to not let Joe brag a bit about his son's military service in a manner that uniquely gave him, and even more, the thousands of families whose mothers and fathers did not return from battle or returned mentally or physically wounded without adequate care, standing to remind all that the war in Iraq was:

  • undertaken on false pretenses
  • unconscionably costly in terms of U.S. and Iraqi human life
  • bankrupting insofar as the money we borrowed to finance the war was much needed to help finance food, shelter, jobs for the middle class, yes, but especially for the over 35 million Americans below the poverty line or the 25 percent of children under six imprisoned there;

and that, of all the candidates, you, Sir, voted against and consistently opposed the Iraq war, and well... ENDED IT!

No, only Mitt and Paul can wrap themselves in the outworn cloak of hawkish "peace through strength" irresponsibility, prospectively setting us up for more Iraqs.

It was wrong not to have Joe remind all watching that you, Sir, against all odds, persuaded Congress to devise a practical structure for the provision of health care for tens of millions who lack it today and that this includes millions wrongfully denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions; or the exclusion of millions of children of middle class families who simply by reason of reaching 21 are tossed off their parents' policies making the improving, but presently, difficult economic prospects for recent grads that much worse.

No, only Mitt and Paul can show concern for the middle class by pledging on their first day to revoke these tangible measures of improvement in their lives.

It was wrong to let Joe only glance and note that his faith has always characterized health care as a human right, that you held true to that vision moving us closer to universal care, even when good people of faith seemingly forgot or abandoned their calling; that this pretense of being the righteous defenders of the faith is... well, to pick one of the rare moments when the real Joe Biden escaped the grip of his "let's pretend we are Mitt" debate coaching, 'just plain malarkey," since only hyper-technical academics could seriously assert that there is any meaningful threat to religious freedom in America; perhaps someone will notice that the Church has been losing in its legal challenge of the president.

And yes, Sir, you and I still disagree on abortion, as you disagree with Joe -- it is the nature of this sensitive subject -- but why not allow Joe, or yourself, to point out that on close analysis there is not a dime's worth of difference among the four of you since the lot of you still pretend that what's wrong or right here is the Supreme Court. Why not say honestly and clearly that the law of abortion is in the hands of the people as it has always been and that you welcome an up or down vote on a constitutional amendment that would include unborn children in the definition of "person"?

Now that, Sir, is an exercise of true religious freedom and it would have the salutary result of once and for all:

  • separating the wholly unenlightening nature of discussions of this topic as a measure of the qualities of a judicial candidate; and
  • hell (sorry), it would even ferret out the claimed "pro-life (now, but not before)" Romney to take a stand for or against the legal protection of unborn life, rather than pretend that reversing Roe somehow "defends" life when it only kicks the issue back to the states;

No Sir, if you want the faithful to sit up and notice your genuine commitment to religious freedom, which is abundantly clear from your inspiring remarks on the subject at home and abroad, and challenges the "blame the Supreme Court" nonsense that even the hierarchy of my Church too often hides behind, then invite these self-anointed defenders of the faith to mount their campaigns for constitutional amendment, or frankly, shut up already.

Mr. President, here is your record of achievement of:

  • stabilizing an economic system that had been badly mangled by corporate bonuses paid for statistical misrepresentation; and
  • addressing the tragic foreclosures triggered by lending practices that jeopardized the life savings of millions of U.S. families, and by the bundling of fraudulent financial instruments, the savings of even greater numbers in the world economy; and
  • steadying an aging auto industry into believing Clint Eastwood who showed up at the Super Bowl, that it really is only half-time in America and the nation's team -- your team -- is ready to take the field again; and
  • dramatically stopping the hemorrhaging of job loss with an unmistakable reversal in favor of job growth that will be jeopardized by GOP budgets and tax policies that will only preserve the economic distortion that allows the bottom 50 percent (including Mitt's entitlement unworthy 47 percent) , despite all of their nation's largesse, holds only 1 percent of the nation's wealth; and
  • making it more possible to start a small business by reducing tax rates on these businesses 17 times, and that the conservative mudslinging over your eloquent reminder that no one succeeds in life or business alone is an important reminder of those first principles my conservative friends they live by; well, they just might need to be reminded that, yes, Ronald Reagan was fond of thinking of America as that "shining city on the hill," but he was wise enough to read the words in the context of John Winthrop's sermon aboard the America-bound Arabella that we would only be so honored if we kept our covenant with God and recognized our inter-dependency and the very different talents each of us have been given; and
  • conducting a foreign policy that has earned the trust of Europe and Asia, but cannot be taken for granted by either, since your foreign policy is the one my diplomatic friend and colleague died for: It is one that stands ready to help old friends and new nations, irrespective of whether it is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or none of the above, so long as it, as Thomas Friedman so crisply articulated: "1) educates their people up to the most modern standards; 2) empowers their women; 3) embraces religious pluralism; 4) has multiple parties, regular elections and a free press; 5) maintains their treaty commitments; and 6) controls their violent extremists with security forces governed by the rule of law."

As a diplomat serving in the region who had your support, and that of the Secretary of State, when it was needed to take on the evil of human trafficking; to persuade my host country of the necessity, despite enormous economic sacrifice, to separate their trade and the operations of one of the busiest and strategic ports in the world from Iran because of its daily threat of nuclear misuse and its outrageous and unprovoked hostility toward our nation, Israel, and by any reasoned deduction, the peaceful aspirations of the entire Middle East and the larger world, and at least for a good while, managed with your influence to keep a large and sometimes mistaken bureaucracy focused on promoting the mutual respect that comes from mutual understanding and the pursuit of inter-faith diplomacy.

And Sir, you gave me the privilege to represent our country in another, and in so doing, help resettle hundreds of refugees who yearn only for freedom and a life well-lived for themselves and their children, and when war came to our doorstep, and commercial aircraft and sea-going vessels left close to one hundred American diplomats in harm's way of Gaddafi's madness you and the secretary did not hesitate to provide the resources necessary to help me and my embassy rescue those lives, including those that Chris Stevens worked with every day. When Chris returned to my embassy a few months later, his spirit was filled with the potential of a democratic government for neighboring Libya, and within reason, he was given every assistance in planning and security. Much has been made in recent days of security needs that went unmet. This is the nature of the risk and sacrifice made each day by the men and women in our foreign and military services. It is well understood by them. I can tell you from personal conversation, it was known by Chris, as the limits of the possible are recognized by ambassadors and all who live in a world of scarce resource. If Chris still walked among the historic byzantine sites of Libya, he would tell Congress that himself. That's what made him a hero; that is what inspires me and others who ask to take up his work now.

So, yes Mr. President, you can lose, but Chris Stevens and all that he stood for depends upon a renewal of hope that in debates and a second term to come -- you will prevail.