Here's the spin provided by his press secretary:
“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.”Guy Benson, who extracted that response from the press secretary, is pleased to hear that condemnation of the policy, but says:
I still fail to see how publicly and proactively declining to "second guess" a policy that one finds "repugnant" amounts to "arguing against" it. If the Vice President's conviction is that China's policy is morally abhorrent, he should have said so when he raised the issue on Chinese soil.It's a carefully framed statement. He was "arguing against the One Child Policy to a Chinese audience," but not on the moral ground. He "believes such practices are repugnant," but that's not what he chose to say to the Chinese. The argument against the policy that he made was an economic one: It's not sustainable to have so many older people supported by a too-small number of younger workers.
Benson, presenting the clip, says "Do you detect any revulsion here?" The answer is no. But why is it no? Is it because he, in fact, does not have a moral problem with the "one child" policy? I think he made a decision to set that issue aside to isolate the economic point he wanted to make. He could realistically have thought that there was nothing to be gained with this audience by expressing revulsion toward the policy. He may very well have thought that it would be a distraction and it would undercut his credibility with respect to the economic argument that he believed was the common ground.
Now, clearly, the more strongly you are opposed to abortion (and birth control), the more horrifying forced abortion and forced birth control seem. Perhaps we should all feel that it is wholly unacceptable that the Vice President should refer to that policy without making it clear that he condemns it. When can you mention an evil, then set it aside to talk about something closely related? Here's an analogy: If someone were pointing a gun at your head, you might go straight for the argument that the shooter will be caught and go to prison. That doesn't mean you don't really, really believe that murder is evil.
IN THE COMMENTS: Tim gives the clearest example of the type of comment I anticipated:
So then, Biden's argument against the Holocaust: "The diversion of critical resources from the war to identify, round up, transport, house and then exterminate as many as 20 million would severely handicap Germany's ability to win its war against the Allies."