Tim Kaine interrupted Mike Pence to spout a Biblical quotation as Mike Pence was in the middle of responding to the invitation to "discuss in detail a time when you struggled to balance your personal faith and a public policy position."
Kaine's interrupting had been exasperating from the outset of last night's debate, but Pence annoyed me by resisting the question, praising his own religiosity, and then going on about his favorite religious issue, abortion.
Pence's answer had nothing about any balancing of personal faith with public policy. Kaine had something quite specific: As governor of Virginia, he did not rescue every condemned person from execution, even though his Catholic faith demands opposition to the death penalty. In fact, Pence used his turn to call attention to a second religious struggle of Kaine's:
I know Senator Kaine, you hold pro-life views personally — but the very idea that a child that is almost born into the world could still have their life taken from them is just anathema to me. And I cannot — I can’t conscience about — about a party that supports that. Or that — I know you’ve historically opposed taxpayer funding of abortion. But Hillary Clinton wants to — wants to repeal the longstanding provision in the law where we said we wouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion.Kaine reacts, stressing that women should be "trust[ed]" to make their own decision about abortion and asserting that Donald Trump said "women should be punished, as Donald Trump said they should, for making the decision to have an abortion." (Here's my old post on exactly what Trump said and how he quickly corrected it.) Pence defended Trump and a dialogue ensued that ended with a Biblical quote:
PENCE: Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that punished women who made the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy.So Pence's idea was that Trump's wording some things badly is the downside of something we ought to like: He's not a career politician. Kaine's comeback is: When you're not wording things carefully, we get the advantage of seeing what you really think.
KAINE: Then why did Donald Trump say that?
PENCE: We just never would.
KAINE: Why did he say that?
PENCE: Well, look, it’s — look, he’s not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton. And so...
KAINE: Well, I would admit that’s not a polished...
PENCE: You know, things don’t always come out exactly the way he means them.
KAINE: Well, can I say...
PENCE: But I’m telling you what the policy of our administration would be.
KAINE: Great line from the — great line from the gospel of Matthew. From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.
I think the passage in Matthew is this, spoken by Jesus:
“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! how can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”It's hard to find a translation that uses "fullness" for "abundance," but "fullness" doesn't make it much easier to understand. The New English Translation is nicely comprehensible: "For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart." If you say something, it's because that's what you mean.
That's a hard proposition to apply to politicians, since so much of what they say is not what they mean. But sometimes the truth slips out. And yet the person who is saying That time you told the truth is probably a political player, accusing you of telling the truth because it serves his interest. If you credit your opponent with telling the truth only when it helps you in your quest for worldly power, will you "on the day of judgment... be justified... [or] condemned"?
If you really believe your religion, how can you dare to participate in politics? The risk is too great.