by Dave Andrusko
September 17, 2007
LifeNews.com Note: Dave Andrusko is the editor of National Right to Life News and an author and editor of several books on abortion topics.
Sometimes (more often than I care to admit), something has to be seen to be believed. You actually must read/see something with your own two eyes to figure out how in the world anyone could possibly believe what was just said.
Enter "Anti-Roe and Pro-Rudy," a mind-bending op-ed that runs in today’s New York Times. The author, Eric Johnston, says he is a "fervent pro-lifer," and since we don’t know him, we take him at his word.
Johnston supports pro-abortion Rudy Giuliani: "I think Mr. Giuliani will be the most effective advocate for the pro-life cause precisely because he is unreligious and a supporter of abortion rights."
Well, that’s the kind of statement that’ll get your attention. Let’s see how Johnston attempts to square the circle.
To understand his approach, it helps to recall the now familiar "Nixon goes to China’" historical reference. Johnston doesn’t use the parallel and no doubt would reject it, but as you remember the idea was that only Nixon, a fervent anti-communist, could have gone to Communist China to begin the normalization of Sino-American relations.
Likewise, only Giuliani, who has a long track record of support for abortion, can "shake up the nearly 35-year-old debate over Roe v. Wade," according to Johnston.
Note that Johnston begins with an argument Giuliani supporters often make to soften the resistance of people who would otherwise not even consider the former Mayor of New York City. And that is that even though the Republican party is against abortion, Giuliani has been ahead in the GOP presidential polls for months.
Understand what Johnston is doing: combining an "is" –Giuliani is leading in the polls–with an "ought"–pro-lifers should get behind him because Giuliani can best shake up the "status quo" on the abortion debate.
We talked about the poll numbers on Monday.
To recapitulate: (1) according to Gallup, among those Republican voters who are aware of the broader field of GOP presidential candidates, former Senator Fred Thompson leads Giuliani, 33% to 25%. (2) According to the Rasmussen Report, among the pool of people who will choose the GOP presidential nominee–likely Republican primary voters–Thompson garners 27% and Giuliani 19%.
All this could change again and again, but there is no inevitability to a Giuliani win. His numbers have been dropping.
Johnston leavens this with what might be called the bogeyman argument. Any candidate who sounds too serious about reversing Roe will spook the voters, especially if they are "deeply religious."
Giuliani is just the man, according to Johnston, to overcome this. Giuliani is (in Johnston’s overly generous assessment) personally "ambivalent" about abortion but says he will appoint "strict constructionist judges (judges who will not use the courts "to achieve political ends")–and "ducks questions about his personal faith."
And because he is a "constitutionalist who supports abortion rights," Johnston writes, Giuliani "can create an anti-Roe majority by explaining that the end of Roe means letting the people decide, state by state, about abortion."
But precisely why is Giuliani "more persuasive" about this federalism argument than the other GOP presidential candidates? "[B]ecause he will not be perceived as trying to advance his own religious preferences," Johnston argues. "By taking the side of pro-lifers for democratic, but not devout, motives, a President Giuliani could shake up the nearly 35-year-old debate over Roe v. Wade."
It is both insulting and flat-out wrong to suggest that the candidates running for the GOP presidential nomination who oppose abortion are raising (or will eventually raise) the hackles of mainstream America. Whatever their personal faith, they convey their opposition to abortion in language accessible to people of all faiths or no faith.
They have made it clear in a variety of forums that the reversal of Roe is their ultimate objective; that this much-to-be-desired turn of events is not around the corner; that in the interim they are working to hedge in the "right" to abortion; and that when Roe is in ruins, the debate over abortion will return primarily to the legislative bodies.
The "strict constructionist" label is intended to convince skeptics that all the expressly and exuberantly pro-abortion statements Giuliani has made in the past are to count for nothing. That list goes on and on.
To cite just one, speaking at the NARAL’s "Champions of Choice" luncheon in Manhattan in 2001, Giuliani said, "As a Republican who supports a woman’s right to choose, it is particularly an honor to be here." He added, "The government shouldn’t dictate that choice by making it a crime or making it illegal."
But, equally important, every time Giuliani talks about appointing "strict constructionists," inquiring minds think back to his judicial appointments while Mayor. A few months ago, the newspaper, Politico, for example, did a review of "the 75 judges Giuliani appointed to three of New York state’s lower courts."
The newspaper first quoted what he told South Carolina Republicans in February: "I would want judges who are strict constructionists because I am," adding, "Those are the kinds of justices I would appoint — Scalia, Alito and Roberts."
But Politico’s analysis found that "[M]ost of Giuliani’s judicial appointments during his eight years as mayor of New York were hardly in the model of Chief Justice John Roberts or Samuel Alito — much less aggressive conservatives in the mold of Antonin Scalia."
For our purposes, no less a source than Kelli Conlin, the head of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, said of Giuliani’s appointments, "They were decent, moderate people."
(Johnston also argues that "Mr. Giuliani pledges his support for the Hyde Amendment," which may be true this minute, but hasn’t been the case in the past and may well not be in the future.)
We’ve heard a ton of arguments why pro-lifers should make their peace with Giuliani. Most of them center around the likelihood of his winning the nomination. As we have seen, that rationalization is wearing thin.
Eric Johnston’s complementary argument–that Giuliani would actually advance the cause quicker and more effectively–is both bizarre and unpersuasive.
I’m sure you won’t be fooled, even for a second.