In this article, the Weekly Standard comes out of the neo-con closet on the abortion issue: time to throw the prolifers under the bus.
The Weekly Standard has promoted itself as a conservative journal, and often publishes articles in that vein. But it's neo-conservative roots are beginning to show.
"Neo-conservatism" is a movement that has its roots in disillusioned liberals, coming out of the culture shock of the late '60s and the '70s, who basically said, "we never thought it would go that far!" They "moved to the right" insofar as they stayed put, while their fellow liberals continued lurching leftward. (The whole "left/right" thing is a questionable paradigm, but it's too familiar, and I don't care to dissect it just now.) In fairness, the neo-cons did move somewhat rightward, but not so much. Just because Ralph Nader called Al Gore a "rightie" doesn't make it so. Look at what they believe.
Neo-cons tended to be more hawkish on foreign policy, in distinction to those they broke ranks with, who really went wobbly on the Cold War; also, they tended not to be rapturous about every latest mutation of the counterculture, nor constantly apologetic for being white, American, heterosexual, middle class, and Western. So there was a basis for them to line up with conservatives and the GOP, particularly in the Democratic Party of McGovern and Jimmy Carter.
That said, the neo-cons were themselves wobbly on issues that have always been essentially conservative. Conservatives really don't like big government; neo-cons say, "eh!" One of the litmus-test issues that, in the past, divided a neo-conservative from a conservative was how you handled Big Labor. Conservatives have little use for the way unionism works under existing laws, as it tends to be compulsory-collectivist, class-warfare-oriented, and it works from a lumpenproletariat mindset that simply can't fathom that workers can really succeed as individuals, so they should shut up and fall in line with the union, for their own good. Neo-conservatives, in the past, have always been embarrassed by the Right to Work issue, and have always tried to have it both ways; maintain the present, conflict-promoting, coercion-imposing labor-law system, but restraining its worst excesses.
Likewise, conservatives don't advocate new government programs to advance conservative objectives; they want less government: as President Reagan said, "government isn't the solution to the problem; government is the problem." Neo-cons went along with that because they agreed with Reagan on the Cold War. This present Bush administration is essentially neo-conservative.
Conservatives derive their views on abortion, pornography, homosexual "marriage" and related issues from religion, in effect, Christianity. (Yes, I know that not all conservatives are Christian, and there's no need that they be; but Christianity remains the source nonetheless. I don't know how athiests who are conservative rationalize this, but probably something like Oriana Fallaci, who was an athiest, and yet essentially identified with Christianity, because she valued Western Civilization, and she considered the latter impossible without the former.)
Neo-cons are of various religious beliefs (it's a nasty crack to try to suggest "neo-con equals Jew," and I don't see it that way), but it sure seems they don't feel as visceral about the so-called "social issues" as conservatives do. Indeed, conservatives don't even like to call them that, since that diminishes their importance. Neo-cons tend to view such issues as more peripheral, where conservatives view them as far more essential. (These terms are not meant as a dichotomy, as if everyone who is some sort of conservative is one of these two categories; there are, in fact, quite a variety among conservatives, including so-called "paleos" and those who tend to be strongly libertarian. And then, of course, you have those who seem to belong to more than one category at once.)
Anyway, I offer all this both to explain what I mean by "neo-conservative," which I don't intend as a pejorative--at least in this article!--and to preface my remarks on the Weakly Standard (oops--how did that extra "a" get in there? Must be this sticky keyboard...).
Now, onto the article itself...
It is all part of the fever that infects more and more folks as elections near: the sense that winning the next election is so supremely important that more and more must be thrown overboard in order to do it. Thus the condescending lectures that are being given these days to various conservative folks that they should just get over their concerns, and get on board the Giuliani (or Romney or McCain or fill in your own name) bandwagon.
It perpetuates the lie -- I'm sorry, that's what it is -- that somehow, the "litmus test" of the 100% prolife position is an albatross for the GOP--that the GOP would be better off if it weren't forced to nominate prolife candidates for president.
Now, it is true that not all professions of support for the prolife cause are equally sincere, and I think there are some signs that prolifers themselves are getting savvier about that. The torpedoing of hapless Harriet Meirs--who may, in fact, have been good on the issue for all we know--shows that, I think. And it is true that prolifers are not immune to the fever I described above, especially when it comes to the presidency--so our current President has gotten something of a pass for not really being 100% prolife (he supports legal abortion for rape and incest).
The article either betrays a laughable credulity on the part of the author, or the author expects his readers to be gullible dolts, when it says, oh, sure, Giuliani is pro-abortion, but he'll choose the kind of judges prolifers want! Hold on, hold on...
First: Giuliani said he'd name justices like Alito and Roberts. Hasn't anyone noticed that these judges have yet to demonstrate they are the kind of judges we hope for, and were promised?
Second: and we're supposed to be impressed that Giuliani says this? What do you expect him to say? "I tend to favor nominees like Ginsberg and Thurgood Marshall." I think if you go back, you will find GOP nominees always say the right things about who they'll nominate as judges--the elder Bush did, so did Reagan. And Reagan has street cred as a conservative--yet of three he named to the high court, two were bad; Bush the elder was 50/50.
So please, how stupid do they think we are? "I'll pick great judges" Oh, well, glad that's settled...
Third: the article sidesteps the question of why Giuliani is pro-abortion. I don't happen to know why he came to that view, but I do know how he justified his support for gun-control: he said, well, it was New York! I.e., he tailored his views so he'd get elected.
Oh, but of course, he'd never do that once he's president...he wouldn't want to get pro-aborts on board with anything he wanted, by trading away a supreme court justice? No, not Giuliani...
Another glaring flaw of the article--it's really insulting, because it is as if the author thinks we're too stupid to notice--is that it suggests that all conservatives have to object to is just this little ole difference, it's not so great, really... I mean, it's not like Giuliani is only a teensy-bit pro-abortion.
Only a few years ago, Giuliani was appearing before the National Abortion Rights Action League, proud to identify with them. "But he hasn't done that lately!" Yeah, I wonder why?
Now, if you read those remarks--yes, they are brief--but they show him rather an advocate of the GOP being "pro choice" on abortion. If he was sincere, that suggests to me he will not be content to be a lonely pro-abort in a sea of prolifers. And of all the things you can assert about Giuliani, the idea that he's going to leave the levers of power unhandled is pretty hard to swallow. If he becomes President, you can bet he'll shape the party as he believes. Of course, he might not have been sincere in those remarks; fine--then don't argue he's sincere in what he promises you, now.
Also, the WS article expects you to be too inattentive to notice that Giuliani is lousy on more than abortion. As noted, he's a gun-grabber.
The idea that he is simultaneously in favor of punching holes in the Second Amendment, and also some sort of libertarian, is more cognitive dissonance than I can endure, but perhaps you are made of sterner stuff.
While I don't for a moment accept his libertarian justification for being "pro-choice," whatever persuasiveness it has evaporates when one comes to guns, and thus his credibility evaporates as well. What some people fail to realize is that the right to own a gun is essentially inseparable from the right to use one in self-defense (i.e., despite the incompetent argumentation of the NRA, gun rights are not essentially about hunting and sports, but about self defense); and that, from the right of self-defense itself.
It is, in fact, a question of self-possession, vs. being a ward of the state. Because gun rights--however distasteful many find the idea--are about your autonomy when it comes to preserving your own life. If someone comes after you with a big, nasty gun, do you have the right -- legally, and morally -- to use an equally big, nasty gun, or even one that is bigger and nastier, to stop that aggression? The answer is, yes you do. No, you may not run around and hurt people with that big, nasty gun; but you have every right--and even a positive duty--to stop someone who aims to rape and kill you and others. And in the real world, you need big, nasty guns to do it. The gun-grabbers say, "let the government do it for you." Well, when you cede control, to government, over the maintenance of your life, what is left of your own liberty? As it happens, the government clearly does not guarantee to arrive in time to stop the thugs from killing you and yours, so the duty to be prepared remains your own. (By the way, there is something rather distasteful about the idea that while the Second Amendment is fine for most folks, it's not for those people in cities. But I guess the NAACP has its hands full with Lacrosse.)
Then you have Giuliani's position on "gay rights"; and where he stands on Right to Work, I'll leave for another day. My point is, the argument that he's otherwise a conservative is untenable. It's a well-used one--Schwarzenegger got the same promotion for awhile, till it became totally laughable (and was no longer needed). (Maybe all we need is to say, no Republicans with unspellable names.)
The Weekly Standard article is one of many showing up here and there, trying to sell conservatives on Giuliani. It reminds me of the scene in A Man for All Seasons, where one of the nobles got irritated with Thomas More (this is a paraphrase): we've all sold out, it wasn't so hard--why do you have to be so prissy?
Who knows what will happen--but my gut is that if Giuliani somehow were to get the nomination, I think the GOP could be in for a big, nasty surprise in November 2008, especially if the Democrats were to decide 2008 were the year to stop being so aggressively pro-abortion (say, they nominated Obama, who seems to be playing a rhetorical game akin to Giuliani's).