Monday, September 8, 2008

Politics are vexing

Over on dotCommonweal David Gibson gives more detail on both Democratic candidates' interviews on two Sunday news programs. Of particular note is the extneded response given by Senator Obama on ABC's This Week to his Saddleback misstep. In the interview he goes on to give the answer that, in Gibsons' words, "he wishes he’d given" at the Saddleback debate.

“What I do know is that abortion is a moral issue, that it’s one that families struggle with all the time. And that in wrestling with those issues, I don’t think that the government criminalizing the choices that families make is the best answer for reducing abortions.

“I think the better answer — and this was reflected in the Democratic platform — is to figure out, how do we make sure the young mothers, or women who have a pregnancy that’s unexpected or difficult, have the kind of support they need to make a whole range of choices, including adoption and keeping the child."

Now, that is answer with which I can live. It is far superior to the response given by his running mate, Sen. Biden, who began his answer with "Look, I know when [life] begins for me. It’s a personal and private issue". For more read Gibson's post.

Meanwhile, Molly Wilson O'Reilly, also writing on dotCommonweal, gives us more analysis of the convention speech given by the most famous representative of that false demographic, no better or worse than any other kind of mom, self-proclaimed hockey mom Sarah Palin, who says of Sen. Obama-
"Victory in Iraq is finally in sight… he wants to forfeit.

"Terrorist states are seeking new-clear [sic] weapons without delay… he wants to meet them without preconditions.

"Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America… he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights?"
Okay, explain to me again the appeal, I drifted off in the middle. Didn't somebody tell her that the Iraqis themselves are throwing us out come 2011? That maybe, just maybe, working with allies and using diplomatic means will work with Iran, as it has with North Korea? Is she aware that Sen. Obama wants to re-double our efforts in Afghanistan precisely to prevent Al Qaeda from becoming resurgent there and to protect our country by good intelligence and counter-terrorism, which requires the rebuilding of strained and broken alliances as well as the forging of new ones? Oh yeah, human rights, who needs 'em when you have water-boarding? Let's ask ourselves, apart from economic opportunity, what makes the U.S. a beacon of light in world?


  1. An anonymous commenter relays the following:

    "I think it's important to balance Sen. Obama's comment about support of mothers with his campaign pledge to Abortion groups to pass a piece of federal legislation that will eliminate all state and federal restrictions on abortion. The bill will remove informed consent laws, waiting periods, family notice laws for minors, restrictions on partial birth abortion and will require funding of elective abortions with taxpayer money.

    "It is quite clear that these laws have led to fewer abortions, but Obama is pledging to eliminate them all. How does this square with his concern to have policies that result in fewer abortions? It doesn't. His words are empty rhetoric."

  2. First, I would need to see the comment Sen. Obama made to these abortion groups.

    Second, even if such a pledge were made the likelihood of such an audacious promise becoming law, (i.e., making its way through Congress) is nil. Besides, the constitutionality of striking down state restrictions that have already passed judicial review is shaky at best.

    Third, while I have no problem accepting the claim that these restrictions have led to fewer abortions (I certainly hope they have), it would be tricky to track this. The only way to do so would be to see if the number of abortions went down overall after they were put into place.

    To answer the question, a decline in the number of abortions began during the Clinton presidency and has continued into and throughout the Bush presidency. It is difficult to statistically correlate the decline with specific laws or policies, we can be thankful that the trend is in the right direction.

    No doubt a combination of social policies, like the ones Sen. Obama mentions, and legal restrictions have achieved this result.

    When it comes to abortion, reponsible people on both sides of the issue see it as a moral issue with huge implications and that, as a country, we have an interest in doing what we can to dramatically reduce and even to eliminate most abortions. In many cases, it comes down to means, not ends. Dennis O'Brien discusses many of the implications of a criminalization only policy, which too often seems the only solution offered to the problem by people who fancy themselves pro-life, in the article I have referenced many times. So, while you may disagree with Sen. Obama's approach, his words about abortion are not "empty rhetoric".

  3. I too would like to see the comment Obama supposedly made to the abortion rights groups. Perhaps the commenter will direct us to them.

    I recall the 60s, and at that time most of the people I knew thought that "such an audacious promise" of legalization of abortion promoted by some would ever become law, because we thought the constitutionality of state prohibitions would be difficult to remove, and certainly upheld by the highest court in the land. Weren't we surprised by the Supreme Court's ruling on Roe. So I would not so easily dismiss the real possibility that a Pres. Obama could bring about elimination of all federal and state restrictions on abortion.

    Regarding criminalization of abortion, my question is why should we satisfy ourselves with legalizing something we recognize as the unjust taking of human life? We do not do so in any other circumstance, except for the death penality, which all too often has ended in the execution of innocent men and women, or in Oregon's case regarding euthanasia (both of which I strongly disagree and abhor.


A political non-rant

In the wake of yesterday's Helsinki press conference, which, like a lot of my fellow U.S. citizens, as well as many people abroad, left ...