Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Bush v. Kerry, Round Three.

Just finished watching the final presidential debate of the season, and though I think both candidates gave strong performances I'd have to give Kerry the edge. Interestingly, while Kerry was fairly consistent in all three debates Bush offered a different side of himself each time: hunched and stammering in the first debate, on fire the second time around, and surprisingly quiet and composed this time. Bush's handling of the flu vaccine question seemed at odds with his treatment of the prescription drug issue in St. Louis; I'm curious why Canadian pills are to be considered dangerous but Canadian flu vaccine is apparently safe. As for Kerry, I was most impressed with his handling of moderator Bob Schieffer's question about the attitude of some Catholic bishops toward his candidacy. Kerry's brief but thoughtful exploration of the ways in which his Catholic faith has impacted his life and his work as a public official served as a potent reminder that volatile wedge issues like abortion are not the only indicia of a candidate's religious bona fides. By contrast, Bush's claims about promoting a "culture of life" struck me as rather hollow, given that his understanding of what such a culture entails seems to be limited to the abortion issue and does not seem to include a concomitant concern for building social structures that support human flourishing. Some readers may find my assessment in this area somewhat biased, and I'll admit that it is. At this point, I might as well admit (to the perhaps negligible proportion of readers who didn't know already) that I am a Democrat and will be voting for Senator Kerry. I recognize that some readers may take exception to my choice of candidate, and I ask only that they respect the fruit of my political discernment just as I respect their own views. This election has occasioned a lively and often rancorous debate on the proper role of Catholic citizens in public life. I have no interest in rendering an already-charged political atmosphere more volatile, but by stating my personal preferences as I have here I hope that I can at least help buck up any readers who feel beleaguered by the harsh tone of some of the voices that have been raised in the present debate. Leaving aside partisan considerations for what I hope will be the last time on this blog, I have to say that I'm also an ardent political junkie, and in that capacity I enjoyed this year's presidential debates enormously. Regardless of your political leanings, I hope all interested readers can say the same. AMDG.