Most political observers learn to take what goes on in presidential primaries in stride, but one thing I still find immensely depressing. Every four years, like gruesome clockwork, Democratic hopefuls of course try to nail down liberal votes by promising to keep abortions safe, legal, and rarely challenged.
When that fails to differentiate one pro-abortion Democrat from all the others, they start to out-abortion each other. Readers have heard the charges and denials and counter-charges: “I was for the right to choose [to abort] well before my colleague was.” “I’ve always been for the right to choose.” “Unlike my opponent, I’ve fought hard for the right to choose.” “I performed abortions in the Senate cloakroom.”
Only the last item is an exaggeration, as the latest dust-up in New Hampshire shows. The technical nature of the charges obscure the deeper conflict: Senator Hillary Clinton is alleging that Senator Barack Obama’s campaign violated laws by using robocallers to dial up people on the state’s do-not-call registry. It’s also possible the calls went on for a few extra seconds than the current campaign laws allow before identifying the messages as originating from the Obama camp.
Even if the charges are proven, it’s important to look at what drove Senator Obama to act hastily and perhaps break the rules. He employed those callers to quickly rebut a mailer the Clinton campaign had sent out alleging that he was not sufficiently pro-abortion. The calls used Wendy Frosh, a prominent spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, to rebut “Clinton’s last minute smears” by assuring voters that Obama has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record.
The calls could also have highlighted Obama’s vote as an Illinois state senator against a law which mandated medical care for what the AP called “aborted fetuses who survive” and the rest of us would call babies. One imagines it would have been utterly convincing, if in poor taste.
EARLIER IN THE campaign, there was one brief glimmer of hope for those people who oppose abortion but would like to vote for a Democrat for other reasons. In one debate, all of the Party’s hopefuls were asked which Supreme Court justice they would hold up as an example. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson mentioned Kennedy appointee Byron “Whizzer” White.
Huge mistake. White was one of the two justices in 1973 to vote against Roe v. Wade and went to his grave believing that Roe was an illegitimate decision. Richardson righted himself by declaring that he had been unaware of White’s heresy. Given that, Richardson’s new model jurist would be pro-abortion absolutist Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In fact, in every single Democratic debate, we could be sure of one thing. Whatever the candidates squabbled about, they agreed on an unlimited right to kill your child-to-be. Several of them had once voted pro-life, but they understood that if they wanted a chance to rise to the top of their Party, that was the price they’d have to pay, and they paid it.
Dennis Kucinich, the quirky Ohio congressman and far-left candidate, once bragged of his consistency by claiming he was so pro-life he wouldn’t even eat meat. But Kucinich wanted to be a player in presidential politics. So he turned hard on the issue, even casting a vote against a federal partial birth abortion ban.
That vote is worth dwelling on for a second. Partial birth abortion is a procedure the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who otherwise went along with his Party, couldn’t abide. He called it “too close to infanticide,” and most people, when confronted with the reality of the procedure, tend to drop the weasel words. After he’d read a description of a partial birth abortion, one colleague wondered to me why pro-choicers don’t say, “All right, we’ll give you that.”
A LOT OF GOOD it did Kucinich to throw his lot in with the abortion lobby. He failed to break into single digit in the Iowa caucuses; has been excluded from recent debates; and has a serious fight on his hands, for both renomination and reelection, in his House district. One mentions this not to kick a guy when he’s down (his brother also recently passed away; poor guy) but to ask Kucinich and other Democrats: Is it really worth it?
The list of Democratic politicians who used to oppose abortion and came around is a long one — from Teddy Kennedy to Jesse Jackson to Joe Biden to Al Gore. They flipped, by and large, because they wanted a chance to be president.
But their chance of even getting their party’s nomination was slim to begin with. And their position on abortion hurts them in the general election if they make it that far. In the 2004 presidential debates, Senator John Kerry never sounded more ghoulish then when he was defending his position on abortion, often in the face of perfectly reasonable-sounding voters who were not happy with their country’s regime of abortion-on-demand — at any time, for any reason whatsoever.
Democrats try various rhetorical devices to get around this voter discomfort. They say that abortions should be safe, legal, and, uh, rare. Or that they are personally opposed to abortion, but… they seek NARAL support anyway. Or that abortion is a matter that should be between a woman, her own personal Jesus, and her abortion doctor. Or, abortion is a matter best left up to conscience, not law.
The final argument is darkly comic because it assumes a private notion of “conscience” that those same politicians apply nowhere else. In the normal back-and-forth of this year’s campaign, former Senator John Edwards has been great at expressing outrage, and not just with corporate America. He recently complained to the Politico that the Clinton campaign “has no conscience.”
His charge may well be true but, who are we to judge?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?