Tuesday, May 09, 2006

On Politicians (Like Mitt Romney) Who Waffle on Abortion (with "CPA")

I did this little exchange / mostly agreement with my Lutheran buddy "CPA", on his blog, Three Hierarchies, responding to his post on Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney (which was making a different point altogether). CPA's words will be in blue.

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Who cares if a politician is a Mormon? My beef with Romney is that I understand he is a pro-abort, and I don't vote for those who uphold child-killing.

Or has he coincidentally changed his mind recently (I haven't been following politics much lately)? It's possible that such a switch (if he did it) is genuine, but one should be somewhat suspicious, seeing that the same political dynamic (in the opposite direction) has occurred among Democratic candidates (just by chance, right before running for national office): Clinton, Gore, and Jesse Jackson. I believe Richard Gephardt was also pro-life at one time.

If the Republicans put up a pro-abort candidate in 2008 and abandon their pro-life platform which has remained constant since 1980, I believe they will lose for sure. They're already in enough trouble over the war, and the cyclical nature of American politics and the nature of non-incumbent elections give Democrats the advantage going in, even before issues are taken into account.

* * *

Ah, yes, the convenient shifting started about a year ago:

Romney hints of a shift on abortion; In interview, says he is 'in a different place'

By Scott S. Greenberger, Globe Staff | May 25, 2005

"Massachusetts Citizens for Life says it considers Romney to be an abortion-rights supporter, and it is unimpressed with those moves."

Adviser says governor faked stance on abortion - The Boston Globe

NOT impressive. I don't vote for people who "faked" their views on such a hugely-important issue, either: the leading ethical issue of our time. I want someone rock-solid pro-life. Here's another article along the same lines, with lots of information:

Political Hay: Mitt Romney's Choice
By W. James Antle III
The American Spectator
Published 2/23/2005 12:07:58 AM

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About Romney being "pro-abort" I guess I'm a bit unsure about this.

Remember the context: the Massachusetts constitution has an amendment guaranteeing abortion rights. When you take an oath to defend the constitution of Mass. that's what you are swearing to follow. As an anti-abortion politician you have two alternatives: 1) conclude that you cannot in conscience serve as a Massachusetss politician, and resign or not seek any and all office in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Or 2) Accept that as settled law (which it is, by legitimate procedure, in Massachusetts in a way that it isn't in the federal gov't), and move on to do what good one can in other spheres. As I've read his "pro-abort" statements, they are generally along the lines of, "I'm not going to try to change Massachusetts's abortion law." If he tried, I agree with his practical estimation that his political career in Massachusetts would have never started.

Politicians who do 2 are not necessarily pro-abort. Are anti-abortion politicians in Massachusetts required to do the Don Quixote thing and lose all elections beyond dog-catcher in all instances? (But yes, living with an evil law does tend to weaken one's abhorrence of it.)

I agree there is a certain difficulty here, but certainly Romney will not run as a pro-abort president, any more than the first President Bush did. Still less will he advocate any change in the program. The question will be, how sincere is he? Is he at heart an anti-abortion politician who recognizes Massachusetts political reality? Or at heart an abortion rights supporter who recognizes nation-wide Republican primaries reality?

The evidence at hand to me suggests the first, not the second. But I do not feel so very certain about it, it's true.

Well, in one of the articles about him that I tracked down, it said he supported abortion even before Roe v. Wade, in a 1970 Michigan referendum (his dad was governor of Michigan in the 60s: my home state). That ought to give an idea of his basic commitments in this area (at least in the past). It's possible that he has had a change of heart, like Reagan and the elder Bush.

In any event, I intensely dislike the "play the game to be elected in liberal states" routine. I don't think honesty and integrity of position must go out the window the moment one decides to enter politics.

Granted, this means that it will be considerably more difficult to be elected in the first place, but hey, life is tough. In the long run, people respect folks who take a stand and stick to their principles, rather than wafflers. This applies to both sides. Neither the pro-life advocates nor the pro-abortion crowd in MA. think much of him in this regard, because he has been waffling and playing the game of equivocation. He's betwixt and between; neither fish nor fowl. That double-talking should be left to the Clintons and the Democrats, not conservative (?) Republicans.

Besides, I want someone solidly pro-life in the oval office, because they will be appointing Supreme Court Justices, and this is the issue I care about the most, by far. I want the slaughter to stop, or at least to start a trend downward with real change. Men-pleasers and wafflers won't accomplish that; it'll have to be someone with firm convictions and political guts. Romney just ain't showing that; sorry.

Even if he says he has changed by 2008, I don't see him being a vigorous pro-life advocate. President W. Bush hasn't done as much as he could have, and he claims to be that, so if someone is less committed to life than he is, we can reasonably assume that he will do even less. And we don't need that. Now is the time to re-align the Supreme Court. If the liberals who die or retire in the next six years get replaced by other liberals, then the Court will remain liberal for another generation.

I do agree with a lot of what you say, with a quibble or two, the main one of which is that saying "I will not make a futile effort to change the settled law of this state in this manner" is not the same as pretending to be pro-abortion. If it is, it would mean that, for example, Lincoln was pro-slavery, because before Ft. Sumter (and even after) he repeatedly and clearly renounced any desire to abolish the institution of slavery in states where it existed. His position was "I'm going to leave it legal, call it a bad thing, and wait for popular opinion to change." (Has Romney called it a bad thing? I don't know.)

As for W., the one thing I am (unfortunately) pretty certain of is that all those social conservatives bellyaching about his lack of backbone on life issues are going to be romanticizing the Bush years as the "good old days" pretty soon after 2008, no matter which party wins.
saying "I will not make a futile effort to change the settled law of this state in this manner" is not the same as pretending to be pro-abortion.
Yep, I know, but it is in effect the same as being the stereotypical "personally against but pro-choice," which is the crux of the legal-political posturing that I object to (and hardly distinguishable pragmatically from a liberal Democrat's public formulations).

To be pro-life is (at least in my book, as a pro-life activist from way back) to firmly stand up and say so, and give the reasons why. By that standard, I dare say that Romney can't possibly be pleasing to a principled pro-lifer.

If he truly has changed his mind, then he has ample opportunity to now firmly state that and make it clear that he is consistently, forcefully pro-life, and give cogent reasons why, just like we Catholic converts did (or in some cases were forced by circumstance to do) when we changed our minds about Protestantism and embraced what we consider a fuller, truer position.

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