A Small Hopeful Sign

It has been a difficult and stressful week nationally. Congress struggled with whether to pass a $700  billion “rescue bill” to alleviate instability in the financial markets. The decision was not an easy one. Would it be better to allow those companies that made unwise economic decisions to suffer the economic consequences or would the fallout from such failures cause an unnecessarily deep economic collapse? Are our current economic problems the consequence of unfettered free enterprise or the fault of government sponsored enterprisee like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae encouraging loans to individuals and families without sufficient resources to repay them.

This week, 70 million of us also experienced the vice-presidential debate contest between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin. With the competitive spirit unleashed from the debate, there was the simple temptation to consider here the observation that the lower income Palin family appears to be far more generous than the Biden family with their charitable donations. Although there are many liberals that are very generous, the reliance on government, practiced and advocated by Liberals, attenuates personal responsibility for charitable giving making Liberals less likely to embrace private donations. See Who Really Cares by Author Brooks for documentation.

Rather now, in the midst of charged and sometimes mean-spirited partisan rancor, it is heartening to witness small, but revealing acts of humanity.

At the end of the vice-presidential debate, the Sarah Palin and Joe Biden families met on stage and exchanged pleasantries and handshakes. There was a brief moment shown in the picture (from Reuters on the left) with Palin and Biden engaging in friendly post-debate conversation. Between them, stood Piper, Palin’s 7-year old daughter. Like any neighbor might, Biden had his hands gently and protectively resting on Piper’s shoulders. Quite obviously, Piper has been brought up well enough to know how to conduct herself around adults. The whole picture had the air of a friendly chat after a PTA meeting where the principals were debating whether to spend PTA money on a swing set.

The issues debated, of course, were of far more import. Nonetheless, the scene is a salutary reminder that Palin and Biden are good and decent people and that both deserve the respect of honest policy criticism and not the personal attacks that have drowned out so much of the legitimate political conversation.

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