| Exclusive: Health care for all + Dick Cheney’s heartless hypocrisy!

Dick Cheney’s Heartless Hypocrisy ~ Robert ParryConsortiumnews.

Exclusive: Dick Cheney’s new book about his life-saving heart transplant has drawn much fawning coverage. But little attention has gone to the hypocrisy of the ex-vice president accepting expensive government-funded surgeries while endorsing the Tea Party’s campaign to deny health coverage to millions of Americans, writes Robert Parry.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, out promoting his new book Heart about how his life was saved by very expensive heart-transplant surgery, is simultaneously praising the Tea Party, which is hard at work trying to prevent less fortunate Americans from getting anything close to the government-financed care that spared Cheney.

In an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show, Cheney called the Tea Party and its fierce opposition to government spending a “good thing.” He also noted how the Tea Party made possible the insurgent Wyoming Senate campaign of his daughter Liz because she was “partly motivated” by the same concerns about high taxes, high national debt and the cost of the Affordable Care Act.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Out of that zeal to repeal Obamacare, the Tea Party and its congressional adherents provoked this month’s government shutdown and near credit default. Yet, Cheney declared, “I’ve got a lot of respect for what the people are doing.”

But what the Tea Party has been doing is trying to prevent the federal government from implementing reforms in the health-insurance system that would enable some 30 million Americans, including many with pre-existing conditions, to obtain insurance often at reduced or subsidized prices. The Tea Party is also fighting expansion of Medicaid for poor families in states controlled by Republicans.

In other words, the Tea Party wants to force Americans with pre-existing medical conditions – like, say, a diseased heart – to remain at the mercy of greedy insurance companies that have made a lucrative business plan out of denying coverage to the people who need it most.

Such a victim of America’s perverse health-care system would have been Dick Cheney, who has had at least five heart attacks dating back to when he was 37. But Cheney was lucky enough to qualify for government-funded health care as a federal employee for most of his adult life, including his time in the Nixon administration, his service in Congress, and his eight years as vice president. As a retired official who is now over 65, he further qualifies for Medicare and other health benefits.

The cost of the heart transplant alone over the first year is estimated at $1 million, and the 72-year-old Cheney has received a variety of other expensive heart procedures over the decades.

Saving the Cheney Family

But Cheney’s personal hypocrisy regarding the federal government’s role to “provide for … the general Welfare” when it comes to less fortunate Americans did not start with the life-saving gift of a new heart. It traces back to the Cheney family’s rise from the hard-scrabble life that confronted many hard-working Americans who were buffeted by the periodic financial crises of unrestrained capitalism, the system idealized by the Tea Party.

In Cheney’s 2011 memoir, In My Time, he acknowledges that his personal success was made possible by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the fact that Cheney’s father managed to land a steady job with the federal government. “I’ve often reflected on how different was the utterly stable environment he provided for his family and wondered if because of that I have been able to take risks, to change directions, and to leave one career path for another with hardly a second thought,” Cheney wrote.

In that sense, Cheney’s self-assuredness may be as much a product of the New Deal as the many bridges, dams and other public works that Roosevelt commissioned in the 1930s to get Americans back to work. By contrast, the insecurity that afflicted Cheney’s father was a byproduct of the vicissitudes from laissez-faire capitalism.

In sketching his family’s history, Cheney depicted the struggles of farmers and small businessmen scratching out a living in the American Midwest and suffering devastating reversals whenever the titans of Wall Street stumbled into a financial crisis and the bankers cut off credit.

After his ancestors would make some modest headway from their hard work, they would find themselves back at square one, again and again, because of some “market” crisis or a negative weather pattern. Whenever there was a financial panic or a drought, everything was lost.

“In 1883, as the country struggled through a long economic depression, the sash and door factory that [Civil War veteran Samuel Fletcher Cheney] co-owned [in Defiance, Ohio] had to be sold to pay its debts,” Cheney wrote. “At the age of fifty-four, Samuel Cheney had to start over,” moving to Nebraska.

There, Samuel Cheney built a sod house and began a farm, enjoying some success until a drought hit, again forcing him to the edge. Despite a solid credit record, he noted that “the banks will not loan to anyone at present” and, in 1896, he had to watch all his possessions auctioned off at the Kearney County Courthouse. Samuel Cheney started another homestead in 1904 and kept working until he died in 1911 at the age of 82.

His third son, Thomas, who was nicknamed Bert (and who would become Dick Cheney’s grandfather), tried to build a different life as a cashier and part owner of a Sumner, Kansas, bank, named Farmers and Merchants Bank. But he still suffered when the economy crashed.

“Despite all his plans and success, Bert Cheney found that, like his father, he couldn’t escape the terrible power of nature,” Dick Cheney wrote. “When drought struck in the early 1930s, farmers couldn’t pay their debts, storekeepers had to close their doors, and Farmers and Merchants Bank went under. … My grandparents lost everything except for the house in which they lived.”

Bert Cheney’s son, Richard, ventured off in a different direction, working his way through Kearney State Teachers College and taking the civil service exam. He landed a job as a typist with the Veterans Administration in Lincoln, Nebraska. “After scraping by for so long, he found the prospect of a $120 monthly salary and the security of a government job too good to turn down,” his son, Dick Cheney, wrote. “Before long he was offered a job with another federal agency, the Soil Conservation Service.

“The SCS taught farmers about crop rotation, terraced planting, contour plowing, and using ‘shelter belts’ of trees as windbreaks – techniques that would prevent the soil from blowing away, as it had in the dust storms of the Great Depression. My dad stayed with the SCS for more than thirty years, doing work of which he was immensely proud. He was also proud of the pension that came with federal employment – a pride that I didn’t understand until as an adult I learned about the economic catastrophes that his parents and grandparents had experienced and that had shadowed his own youth.”

Like many Americans, the Cheney family felt it had been pulled from the depths of the Great Depression by the New Deal efforts of Franklin Roosevelt, cementing the family’s support for the Democratic president and his party. “When I was born [on Jan. 30, 1941] my granddad wanted to send a telegram to the president,” Cheney wrote in his memoir. “Both sides of my family were staunch New Deal Democrats, and Granddad was sure that FDR would want to know about the ‘little stranger’ with whom he now had a birthday in common.”

After growing up in the relative comfort of middle-class, post-World War II America, Dick Cheney would take advantage of the many opportunities that presented themselves, attaching himself to powerful Republican politicians, most notably an ambitious congressman from Illinois named Donald Rumsfeld.

When Rumsfeld left Congress for posts in the Nixon administration, he brought the hard-working Cheney along. Eventually Rumsfeld became White House chief of staff to President Gerald Ford and – when Rumsfeld was tapped to become Defense Secretary in 1975 – he recommended his young aide, Dick Cheney, to succeed him.

Cheney’s career path through the ranks of Republican national politics, with occasional trips through the revolving door into lucrative private-sector jobs, was set. He would become a major player within the GOP Establishment, establishing for himself a reputation as one of the most conservative members of Congress and a foreign policy hawk.

Cheney is now recognized as a right-wing Republican icon, inspiring a new generation of conservatives to dismantle what’s left of Roosevelt’s New Deal and shrink the federal government so it won’t be there to help some other struggling family trying to make it into the middle class and achieve the American Dream.

Indeed, if the father in that struggling family suffers from heart disease – and if the family is denied affordable health insurance due to that pre-existing condition – Cheney’s right-wing Tea Party policies would coldly calculate that the father’s life would not be worth saving.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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| Wake Up America! Congressional “Mad Dogs” render the powerful powerless!

Congressional “Mad Dogs” Render the Powerful PowerlessRALPH NADERCounterpunch.

SHUTDOWN – blared the Washington Post headline. None of the powers-that-be could stop a small faction of Republicans in the House of Representatives from shutting down many federal government operations starting on October 1.

Suddenly the powerful Business Roundtable and U.S. Chamber of Commerce are powerless, along with two hundred corporate trade associations, who see Uncle Sam as their big customer. Suddenly, the Republican dominated National Governors Association, together with Mitt Romney, the Party’s presidential nominee in 2013, are powerless. Also powerless so far are the allegedly sovereign people, who want uninterrupted safety inspections, enforcement of labor and environmental laws, children’s nutrition and educational programs (like Head Start), student loan processing, veterans benefits, detection of epidemics, access to national parks, and inspections of nuclear power plants.

All of the above want the federal government to stay open. Most of them do not want to see 800,000 federal workers (out of two million) furloughed. It doesn’t matter to House Republicans. About thirty-five to forty obscure, foot-stomping Republicans have scared the easily frightened House Speaker, John Boehner, and his curled-lip deputy, Rep. Eric Cantor, into doing what no foreign enemy since the British burned Washington in 1812 has been able to do. This cohort, representing the most cruel, ignorant, narcissistic Republicans in the Party’s history, has closed down much of the national government.

Usually lapdogs for big business or business lobbies back in their one-party dominated Congressional Districts, this small echo chamber in the House, assisted by some of their ilk in the Senate, have become “mad dogs.” These “mad dogs” do not obey their owners, they embarrass them and make our tepid economic recovery shudder. They shake foreign allies’ confidence in the super-power, whose lawless military Empire budgets are mostly untouched by the shutdown.

To make matters more calamitous, these “mad dogs” are also attempting to block the increase in the nation’s debt ceiling later this month that is necessary to pay for bills already incurred. Just the rhetoric by these ideologically inebriated Republicans is giving the stock marketers and the big business barons nightmares.

The ostensible reason for these “mad dogs” frothing at the mouth is Obamacare, or what is euphemistically called the Affordable Care Act, which does little to control the drug, hospital and insurance industry’s prices. These congressional canines bark daily that the American people are against “big government” Obamacare. They fail to point out that a solid segment in the polls consists of Americans who oppose Obamacare because they want full Medicare for all, or what is called single-payer – a far more efficient, accessible, and simple system with better outcomes and opportunities for disease and injury prevention. Under single-payer, everybody is in, nobody is out, with free choice of doctor and hospital. (Visit www.singlepayeraction.org)

Why is this Republican faction – a minority in its own Party – so extortionately against Obamacare that they would shut the government down? The answer is simple: Obama. They do not like him. Moreover, these Congressional “mad dogs”, well paid and insured by taxpayers, prefer the present ‘pay-or-die’ gouging marketplace that, according to a peer-reviewed study by Harvard Medical School researchers, takes the lives of 800 Americans each week who cannot afford health insurance to be diagnosed and treated in a timely manner (http://www.pnhp.org/excessdeaths/health-insurance-and-mortality-in-US-adults.pdf).

The question remains: Why have all these power brokers suddenly become powerless, including all the business lobbies? One explanation is that hyped-up Tea Party activists can threaten primaries against moderate Republicans. In addition these “mad dogs” are in a feeding frenzy and cannot see any reality beyond their pack.

Most puzzling are the allegedly sovereign people, including federal employees, their families and the millions of workers around the country who extend or rely on federal operations. True, there are a few scattered protests around the country. In France, were the Parliament to shut down the government, the French would likely sack the Parliament. In Washington, D.C., the press reported an “eerie silence,” before and after midnight struck on September 30. And they might have added – around the country.

How can this not embolden the “mad dogs” further?

It is one thing for America to be a nation of sheep, controlled by the multinational corporate supremacists who have no allegiance to our country other than to control it and ship jobs and industries to repressive regimes abroad. It is quite another matter altogether to be sheep led by “mad dogs” from uncompetitive Districts, whose sheepish voters brought them to Congress where they are exercising their slash and burn plundering.

Who is in charge here? Our Constitution opens with the words “We the People,” not “We the Congress” or “We the Corporations.” That is why people are deemed sovereign.

That sovereignty is in our hands only if we exercise it and challenge our wayward politicians. Time again for that oft-repeated but ignored cliché: Wake up America! (Easy first step – the Congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121 or find your member of Congress’s email address at contactingthecongress.org.) Tell Congress they are putting their own jobs at risk by allowing the shutdown to continue.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

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ObLies1

| Sliding down the fiscal cliff with a very ugly deal!

An Ugly Deal ~ , The Campaign for America’s Future.

Early this morning, the Senate passed the fiscal cliff deal by 89-8, a margin virtually guaranteeing that it will survive in the House.  The deal has some good parts.  It lets the Bush tax cuts expire on the wealthy, raises the estate tax marginally and increases taxes on capital gains and dividends a bit.  Unemployment benefits are extended for a year.  Tax boosts for the low paid workers – the child tax credit, expanded earned income credit, refundable tuition tax credits – are extended, if only for five years.  Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are not touched.

But no one should be fooled.  This is an ugly deal, with foul implications for the coming months.

1.  Setting Up the Next Extortion

The most ominous part of the deal is what was left out.  The deal makes no provision for lifting the debt ceiling.  It postpones the sequester (automatic cuts in domestic and military spending) for only two months.  It is a smaller deficit reduction package than that originally sought by the president.  It therefore sets up the right-wing House zealots to hold the economy hostage once more, while demanding deep cuts in public services (known as cuts in domestic spending), backed by a media frenzy about deficits.  And while Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid escaped unscathed in this deal, they will be the prime targets in the coming debate.

2.  Hiking Taxes for Working Americans; A Million Jobs Lost  

By allowing the payroll tax cut to expire, every working American gets a tax hike of 2% of their income (up to about $113,000 in income).  A worker making $50,000 a year will pay an extra $1,000 in taxes.  Payroll checks will be cut.  Belts will have to be tightened even more.  That will lower demand, producing job loss totaling up to an estimated million jobs.  (Taxes on the wealthy go up also, but those have only marginal effects on jobs).

3.  Compromising the Compromising President

President Obama sensibly told Republicans that he would not sign any bill or agree to any deal that extended the Bush tax cuts on those making over $250,000.   He had stumped on that across the country on this pledge and received a mandate from the voters.  Polls showed the majority of Americans were with him.  With all the Bush tax breaks due to expire, Republicans were faced with letting taxes go up on everyone just to defend tax breaks for the richest Americans.  The President began the negotiations saying this was not negotiable.  He could not have been in a stronger position.

But he chose to compromise.  The Bush tax cuts will be allowed to expire on couples making over $450,000.  This costs about $150-200 billion in revenue over 10 years.  The president argues he got the important extension of unemployment insurance and the working poor tax credits in return.  But these could have been folded into a package after going over the cliff.  And the cost to the president is significant.  Once more Republicans have learned that obstruction works, that the president will always blink.

The next extortion – the debt ceiling, automatic sequester – in the next eight weeks makes this a big deal.  The President says sensibly that he will not negotiate over lifting the debt ceiling.  Period.  And now there is even less reason for the Republicans to believe him than before. This encourages extreme demands rather than discouraging them.  This was the time to draw the line.

 4.  Feeding the deficit distraction

The deal is already being denounced in the mainstream media as “too timid,” offering too little in deficit reduction.  It guarantees the next eight weeks will be fixated on the debate about what to cut and how much to cut headed into the debt ceiling.

But this entire debate is wrong-headed.  You can’t fix the debt without fixing the economy.  And deficit reduction won’t fix the economy.  The recovery is too slow and too skewed to put people back to work.  Deficit reduction can only slow it further.

We need a big and bold debate about fundamental reforms needed to make this economy work for working people.  That includes making big investments vital to our future at a time when we can borrow for virtually nothing – rebuilding and modernizing our decrepit infrastructure, funding R&D, doing at least the basics in education.  We need to balance our trade, and revive manufacturing, beginning with capturing a leading role in the global move to clean energy.

We need to address inequality frontally.  That requires much more than small marginal increases in taxes for millionaires.  It includes raising the minimum wage, empowering workers to organize and bargain for a fair share of the profits they help to generate, limiting perverse CEO compensation schemes.  It includes a financial transaction tax that might curb Wall Street gambling.

We need to continue health care reform, taking on the entrenched lobbies — the drug and insurance companies, the private hospital complexes — that drive up our medical costs.  If we paid per capita what other industrial countries pay for health care, we’d project surpluses as far as the eye can see.  We have to fix our broken health care system.

But Washington is talking about none of this.  Instead the Congress and the President are going to continue to debate how much more to cut from public services as if that would fix the economy.   That debate is likely to turn foul.  Republicans use the debt ceiling to demand structural cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  They’ll likely be willing to repeal or dilute the sequester as an incentive to focus on the core security programs.  And they’ll be convinced that the president will fold once more.

Americans are struggling with mass unemployment, declining wages, increasing insecurity, Gilded Age inequality.  Trimming the deficit addresses none of these, and is likely to slow growth, making things worse.

We’ve had an ugly debate leading to a wretched agreement.  And that agreement only insures that the debate will get uglier.

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FiscalCliff

| Neocon wet-dream Paul Ryan is Dick Cheney with a Smile!

Paul Ryan: Dick Cheney With a Smile ~ John Nichols, The Nation.

Never afraid to go against the crowd, or the facts, Dick Cheney found Paul Ryan’s performance in Thursday night’s vice presidential debate dazzling.

Following the debate, Cheney declared that ”there is no question in my mind when I look at Joe Biden and Paul Ryan on the stage there last night, I think Paul Ryan’s got what it takes to take over as president. I don’t think Joe Biden does.”

How did George W. Bush’s number-two see what so many mere mortals missed?

Cheney pays serious attention to Ryan.

Indeed, he says: “I worship the ground that Paul Ryan walks on.”

And no one should doubt Cheney’s sincerity.

The former Republican vice president adores the Republican vice presidential candidate because Ryan is a fresh, young Cheney.

Cheney moved to Washington as soon as he could and became a political careerist, working as a Capitol Hill aide, a think-tank hanger on and then a member of Congress. Ryan followed the same insider trajectory.

Cheney’s a hyper-partisan Republican with a history of putting party loyalty above everything else. Ryan’s an equally loyal GOP mandarin.

Cheney’s a rigid ideologue who has never let reality get in the way of cockamamie neocon theories about where to start the next war. And Ryan’s every bit as much a neocon as Cheney.

Americans should reflect on Ryan’s performance in Thursday’s vice presidential debate with Cheney in mind. When they do, they will shudder.

In the 2000 vice presidential debate at Centre College in Kentucky, Cheney was asked if he favored using deadly force against Iraq. “We might have no other choice. We’ll have to see if that happens,” he replied. Why? He said he feared Saddam Hussein might have renewed his “capacity to build weapons of mass destruction.” “I certainly hope he’s not regenerating that kind of capability, but if he were, if in fact Saddam Hussein were taking steps to try to rebuild nuclear capability or weapons of mass destruction, you would have to give very serious consideration to military action to—to stop that activity.”

Two years later, Cheney was leading the drive to send US troops to invade Iraq. Three years later, US troops were bogged down in an occupation that would cost thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. No weapons of mass destruction were found and America’s international credibility took a hard hit.

Cheney didn’t care. He never apologized for leading America astray. And he never offered any indication that he had learned from the experience.

Thursday, in the 2012 vice presidential debate at Centre College, Ryan put a smile on the Cheney doctrine. But there was not a sliver of difference between the politics of the former vice president and the pretender to the vice presidency on questions of how to deal with foreign policy challenges in Afghanistan, Syria and Iran.

At the close of an extended discussion of Afghanistan, in which he repeatedly suggested that the Obama administration was insufficiently committed to fighting America’s longest war, Ryan actually suggested: “We are already sending Americans to do the job, but fewer of them. That’s the whole problem.”

On Iran, Ryan was so bombastic that an incredulous Biden finally asked: “What are you—you’re going to go to war? Is that what you want to do?”

Ryan did not answer in the affirmative Thursday night in Danville.

Neither did Cheney twelve years ago in Danville.

But Cheney signaled his inclinations in the 2000 vice presidential debate. And Ryan has signaled his intentions this year—confirming that the neoconservative fantasy, despite having been discredited by experience, dies hard on the neocon fringe of the Grand Old Party.

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| Veteran Biden laughs his way to victory in vice presidential debate!

Biden Laughs His Way to Victory in Vice Presidential DebateTracy Bloom, TruthDig.

The smile. That laugh. The look on Joe Biden’s face said it all during his commanding performance in Thursday’s vice presidential debate held in Danville, Ky.

Given President Obama’s less than stellar performance in last week’s first presidential debate, a lot was riding on Biden’s shoulders: the polls, which have swung Mitt Romney’s way in the past week, for one, and the critical undecided voter in swing states for another.

Could Biden deliver? The answer Thursday night was a resounding yes.

From the start, Biden attacked the Romney and Ryan ticket and never backed down, calling out the GOP vice presidential nominee on misleading statements and outright lies.

The first instance happened early on in the debate, when the topic turned to attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. When Ryan began criticizing the Obama administration for not having enough security at U.S. embassies, Biden took that as his moment to pounce.

“With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey,” Biden told Ryan, ripping him for Republican-enacted budget cuts to embassy security. In fact, Ryan was among the GOP congressional members who voted for those defense cuts.

It was clear that someone from the ticket took his debate prep seriously.

As the candidates moved on to the issue of Iran, Ryan criticized President Obama for not doing enough as that country races “toward a nuclear weapon.”

Biden, who pointed out how tough sanctions already are on Iran, straight up asked Ryan whether his party’s ticket wanted the U.S. to go to war.

“Are you going to war? Is that what you’re going to do now?” Biden asked.

“We want to prevent war,” Ryan responded.

These initial exchanges set the tone for the entire night, as the candidates sparred on foreign policy issues, the economy and entitlement programs. The debate also touched on women’s issues, crucial matters that were noticeably absent from the first one. (They weren’t mentioned until well over an hour in, but more on that later.)

While Obama seemed wary of going after Romney on the “47 percent” comment, Biden dived right in, bringing it up several times in the debate. “I’ve had it up to here with the 47% notion,” he said at one point.

Another time, the vice president zinged Romney for flip-flopping on political positions in what was one of the better one-liners of the evening. “I may be mistaken, he changes his mind so often,” Biden said of the GOP presidential nominee.

What Biden did particularly well throughout the evening was call out Ryan on his hypocrisies, like when the Wisconsin congressman tried to attack Obama for America’s mounting deficit. The vice president merely pointed out that the Republican had personally voted to authorize two wars, in addition to voting for a prescription drug benefit and a trillion dollar tax cut, which, as Biden put it, Republicans put on the country’s “credit card.” “All of a sudden, they’re so seized with concern for the debt they created,” he said.

The federal stimulus was another topic that Biden bested his opponent on, as he once again highlighted a glaring Ryan hypocrisy. The vice president correctly pointed out that while the congressman had railed against the stimulus, he ended up accepting federal money from it for his district, funds that he had personally asked for in two letters to Biden.

Ryan and Biden also had a spirited debate on taxes that led to perhaps the best line of the night.

The GOP vice presidential nominee once again declined to state specifics on Romney’s tax plan, refusing to say what loopholes and deductions it will eliminate in an effort to offset a 20 percent tax cut, though remaining steadfast that the math worked out.

Biden argued, however, that the economic plan Ryan presented was mathematically impossible. “It has never been done before,” he said.

Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates and increased growth,” Ryan answered, to which Biden sarcastically responded, “Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy.”

The conversation then turned serious as the two discussed how religion informed and influenced their views on abortion. Both men, as it so happens, are Catholic. Ryan, whose extreme pro-life position has been well documented, said that he didn’t see “how a person can separate their personal life and their private life.” The Republican added that he was pro-life, but that a Romney administration would allow abortion exceptions in the event of rape, incest or when the mother’s life was at risk. (Ryan has consistently indicated that he himself does not believe in any abortion exceptions.)

Biden, on the other hand, supports a woman’s right to choose, and said he believed the decision should be between a woman and her doctor. “I do not believe we have the right to tell women how to control their bodies,” he said.

At the end of the evening, it was clear that Biden was the hands-down winner. But another victor emerged Thursday night—ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, the debate moderator. Raddatz managed to cover a lot of ground, asking pointed and relevant questions while also preventing the candidates from answering vaguely (or not answering at all). She also managed to stand her ground and keep control of the candidates the entire debate. In short, where Jim Lehrer failed, she succeeded.

The big question now is whether the vice presidential debate will actually influence any voters’ decisions. The one thing that appears certain is that Joe Biden did an impressive enough job to get the Democrats out of panic mode.

Unfortunately for Democrats, Biden is done with debates. And no, Bill Clinton cannot fill in as a debate surrogate for Obama.

That means, Mr. President, it’s your turn next.

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