Readers and friends know I take a keen interest in politics; the truth is, however, parish life keeps me pretty busy, so I spend far less time on the subject than I might enjoy.
Some time back, when former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani began to be talked about as a presidential candidate in 2008, a lot of his vocal supporters and cheerleaders included folks who claim to be prolife--in this case, they became "prolife, but," as in, "I'm prolife, but I think the need for a strong leader in this time of crisis is of first order, so I back Giuliani." And then came explanations for why someone who had been outspoken for legal abortion, even for tax funding of abortion, would still be someone prolifers could get along with and even make progress with.
Well, there may be other arguments for Giuliani, but that one was patently ridiculous. A far better argument can be made for how Bill Clinton's presidency meant progress for prolifers: because of the resulting activism of prolifers to his election, translating into election of many more prolife politicians to Congress and state legislatures, and that in turn resulting in better policy in many places. That happens to be true. But no one has, to my knowledge, suggested Giuliani will have a similar effect.
No, the argument meant to induce prolifers to accept Giuliani was that he'd mute his pro-abortion position, and he'd advance the prolife cause by naming good justices to the Supreme Court.
Well...then he said in the recent debate that he'd be "okay" with Roe v. Wade being overturned, and he'd be okay with it being upheld--and he saw either outcome as something a strict constructionist justice could do.
In his column today, Charles Krauthammer points out, reasonably, how this might be true--that a "strict constructionist" justice might reason that Roe had been part of the law too long to be repealed. But all that does is highlight that the term "strict constructionist" is deceptive in its meaning in these discussions. To be blunt: politicians trot out the term to soothe and lull people into a false sense of security. Our current president, and also Giuliani (and many others), say "strict constructionist" to prolifers, expecting them to hear, "will overturn Roe." It's code, and everyone knows it.
After all, the centerpiece of the "prolife" argument for Giuliani was his pledge to appoint justices "like Roberts and Alito." (Never mind neither has yet demonstrated he'll cast aside Roe.)
Giuliani's candor on Roe knocked the props out from under these so-called prolifers who backed him. I say so-called, not because I believe a prolifer cannot back Giuliani. I happen to believe that; but I also can understand that not everyone has clarity on that, and I don't care to fight over that question, just now. No, the folks I call "so-called prolifers" are those who, in my judgment, are attempting a fraud--either deliberately, or they simply have deluded themselves. They are trying to claim someone like Giuliani would represent progress, or at worst, no change, when it comes to the prolife cause. It would be far more honest to concede he's terrible on the prolife cause, and would hurt the cause--but some extenuating circumstances make that the least bad alternative. I wouldn't agree with that argument--but it's a more honest one.
Back to Giuliani's answer on Roe--it is your warning, prolifers, to discount all the talk about "strict constructionist" judges and look for more substantive responses. (I might point out, in passing, that Giuliani, in that recent debate, either erred accidentally, or showed his ignorance of the law, or tried to snow us, when he referred to Roe being upheld, and then it'd be up to the states. The fact is, part of what makes Roe a travesty is that it does not leave it up to the states. The pro-aborts know it, so anything that opens the door, even a crack, to federal or state regulation of abortion represents a backing away from the absolutism of Roe, and its companion case, Doe. And, I might also point out here that this is why it's a little disingenuous to speak of Roe as "settled law" because it has been modified, several times, since 1973.) I'm not saying strict constructionist justices aren't a good thing, nor am I saying that what we should want is justices whose vote on Roe is pre-determined. What I think is that these politicians are trying to play word games with us, and Giuliani's candor on Roe the other day reveals that.
As does the recent silence of those who were claiming prolifers could make progress with Giuliani. They can't point to his promises on justices anymore, and I suspect they are afraid to say anything else in defense of him on the prolife cause, for fear he'll cut 'em off at the knees with the next revelation. For example, he claims to be "personally prolife" (like John Kerry), and yet it turns out he gave money to the world's leading abortion industry, Planned Parenthood. Better to talk about the war on terror.