In one of his patented off-the-cuff blunders, Vice President Joe Biden made a remark on Sunday that made it sound like he supports China's one-child policy. Cue the attack by Republicans, who are suddenly very concerned about human rights violations in China — because it gives them an opportunity to talk about abortion.
The Washington Post reports that while speaking to students at Sichuan University in Chengdu about the economy, the topic veered into China's demographic problems. Biden said:
"You have no safety net. Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I'm not second-guessing — of one child per family ... The result being that you're in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable."
It seems he was trying to express that he comprehended the policy, but in Biden-speak that came out as a declaration that he's all for the terrible methods sometimes used to limit family size.
At first the flub wasn't widely reported in the U.S., and Biden probably thought he'd gotten a lucky break. However, yesterday Mitt Romney took the opportunity to attack Biden with this statement:
"China's one-child policy is gruesome and barbaric ... Vice President Biden's acquiescence to such a policy should shock the conscience of every American. Instead of condoning the policy, Vice President Biden should have condemned it in the strongest possible terms. There can be no defense of a government that engages in compulsory sterilization and forced abortions in the name of population control."
The White House responded with a statement explaining that it's actually against these horrible practices:
"The Obama Administration strongly opposes all aspects of China's coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization. The Vice President believes such practices are repugnant. He also pointed out, in China, that the policy is, as a practical matter, unsustainable. He was arguing against the One Child Policy to a Chinese audience."
But by then the Republicans were already piling on. John Boehner said he was "deeply troubled" by Biden's comment, adding that the administration:
"... Should be focusing on jobs for the American people, not encouraging foreign governments to utilize abortion as a means of population and deficit control."
Yes, our unemployment problems would be over if the President would just stop scheming to make women in other countries get unwanted abortions.
John Huntsman's aide pointed out that he has a personal connection to the issue, since he's "an adoptive father, whose daughter was abandoned by parents in China." He said the policy is heartbreaking and "runs counter to the fundamental value of human life." Rick Perry wins for the most disproportionate response, with his declaration that Biden's "refusal to 'second-guess' this horrendous policy demonstrates great moral indifference on the part of the Obama Administration." Clearly this wasn't a case of a politician misspeaking, but evidence that the entire administration is morally bankrupt.
Biden definitely deserves much of this, as he should have condemned the Chinese policy rather than pussyfooting around the issue. However, it's obvious that conservative politicians aren't all that interested in fighting to improve human rights in China. They just saw an opportunity to promote their belief that reproductive choice should be more limited in the United States.
Vice President Biden Taking Heat Back Home For His Remark On China's One-Child Policy [Washington Post]
Romney Jumps On Biden Remark About China's One-Child Policy [WSJ]
Under Fire, Biden Blasts 'Repugnant' China Policies [AFP]
Image via Asia Glab/Shutterstock.com.