I'm serving leftovers today, but sometimes they're pretty tasty, we'll see.
The bulk of this was posted Feb. 20; I'm reposting it, with some additional stuff, to continue a good conversation. I will keep the old post, as it was, as a separate post, but I moved the comments here, if that's all right?
Before long, posting something like this will just generate too much gnashing of teeth. As we get closer to November, the one thought that will dominate so many otherwise sensible people is, the Presidency is everything, "we" dare not lose it...reminding me, to be candid, of how--in the Lord of the Rings trilogy--so many otherwise level-headed and presumably moral people became seduced by The Ring.
Meanwhile, we have now a presumptive GOP standard-bearer who is hostile to the First Amendment; Sen. John McCain's signature accomplishment is his McCain-Feingold "Campaign Reform" law, which candidate Bush denounced as unconstitutional, but President Bush signed into law. Some say, that's just one issue--but of course, what's the Bill of Rights among friends?
The salient issue for many of us of course is the end of abortion-on-demand, and most think that the only practical way to get at that is the Supreme Court; so every four years, we are told how many justices the next president will name to the High Court. The predictions keep inflating--lately, we're told the next president will "likely" name "four or five." And overwrought activists fall for it.
Never mind that, since 1969, we've had seven presidents, over 38 years (not counting W. Bush's last year, still to come), and in that time, they've named how many justices? Nixon, 4; Ford, 1; Carter: 0; Reagan: 3; Bush (I): 2; Clinton: 2; Bush (II): 2; that yields an average of...1.4 justices named per four-year term; and that reaches back to the 1970s--since that time, people are living a lot longer. No one knows, but based on more recent history, two justices looks like a good estimate, not "four or five." (Of course, an asteroid could hit, and President Obama could name all nine!!!
Now, there's another thing about this argument that the scaremongers hope you will be too panicky to notice. They try to make you think that if Obama or Hilary wins, the Supreme Court will get worse...but then they acknowledge that the two most likely justices to be replaced are Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens! In case anyone hasn't noticed, these are the two most liberal justices. So if they are replaced with newer liberals, yes it will be a missed opportunity--but no, it won't change much of anything, at least on the issue of Roe v. Wade, which is what this all about. So the merits of the, "it's all about the Supreme Court" argument all hinges on how confident you can be that the GOP candidate will name really good justices; because I point out that it was Republican named justices who gave us Roe and upheld it in the 1992 Casey decision.
So we come back to Senator McCain. And last week, Andrew McCarthy had an outstanding column at National Review Online that dealt with this. (See original post, below, for the rest of this if you like...)
Till now, we haven't even discussed McCain's stance on more direct prolife issues...
McCain has repeatedly voted for tax-funded baby-destroying "research." Yes, Obama and Clinton will be "worse" on many other prolife issues, but with the exception of tax funding for abortions (which a GOP Congress can prevent, and did under Clinton), this is the issue that is most likely to come to the next president in the form of legislation. There's not a doubt in my mind that if McCain is president, he'll work to prevent any really good legislation from coming to a vote, because that's just what he always did as a Senator. And given where we stand with Roe, and given the dim hopes McCain will make any difference there, except for the worse, there's not much the pro-aborts can do, realistically, to make things worse. The main front will be "research"--where McCain is as bad as the Democrats.
Update: now, what's new since I posted this on Feb. 20?
This gives me a chance to comment on an editorial in the very fine National Catholic Register. While the NCReg editors make some good points, they really demonstrate my point about how, in the heat of an election like this, people get a little feverish and panicky.
Consider the laundry-list they give of things they assert, without qualification, that "we will get", which I reproduce below, interspersed with my own commentary in italics. Please note in particular the source for this scary list--not any particular expert in the political process, or someone associated with either party; nor even someone who represents a major, prolife organization; no, it was one, unnamed "prolife blogger"! I'm sorry, NCReg, but that suggests the editors were in too much of a hurry to get this editorial to print.
• two more Supreme Court justices who consider abortion a right, plus more than a hundred Federal court appointments to foul our justice system for another 50 years,
Wrong. The only way we can get "two more" is if pro-Roe justices replace current anti-Roe justices, and that is very far from certain; the two justices almost always deemed "next to go" are Ginsberg and Stevens, who are pro-abortion. I.e., Obama and Clinton won't make the court worse, but their election may mean it won't get better. But then, there's every reason to expect the same from McCain.
• federally funded embryonic stem-cell research,
We already have this, and McCain is wrong on this, so why is this an argument for McCain?
• federally funded cloning and “chimera” research,
See last answer; given McCain's position on tax-funded use of embryonic humans for research, what's the basis for expecting him to be stalwart here?
• federally funded abortion on demand,
Do the NCReg. editors expect Clinton or Obama to assume dictatorial powers and dissolve Congress and the courts? Because otherwise, Congress must enact legislation funding abortions. Either we have the votes to stop it (we have so far, including under Bill Clinton) or we don't.
• abortion in military hospitals,
Same answer as last.
• federally funded abortion overseas,
Same answer as last.
• vicious regulatory attacks on pro-life doctors, nurses, clinics and non-profit groups,
While the President can issue "vicious regulatory attacks," we are not powerless against such things, both in terms of legislation and court action. Again, a President is not a dictator, and it's not as though the millions of prolifers will be powerless to fight back. This is hardly a reason why we must vote for McCain.
• the repeal of conscience-clause exceptions for doctors and pharmacists,
See answer regarding tax-funding above.
• efforts to reclassify churches and pro-life activities, threating their tax-exempt status,
This is absurd. Go after churches' and other organizations' tax-exempt status? 'Oh, please don't throw me into that briarpatch!'
• “the Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA), which is like the Human Life Bill in reverse — a federal statute mandating abortion on demand in every state,
Again, unless Clinton or Obama become dictators, this has to pass both houses of Congress, including past a filibuster--which, thankfully we didn't wreck (give McCain his due on this one).
• the end of abstinence education, and
I wasn't aware that the President, all by himself, could outlaw all abstinence education in all public schools nationwide. How does he do that? What the person claiming this must mean is that a President Obama or Clinton will zero out federal funding for such education, and that's possible, but by no means certain. We can't stop earmarks for toilet-paper museums, which nobody cares about, but Clinton or Obama will take a Horatio-at-the-bridge stance against something like this that enjoys very strong support nationwide? What's more, even if such federal funding is cancelled, what prevents state funding? That's where most of this happens anyway, and the President is extremely unlikely to try to stop that. And a lot of us don't really want federal funding, even for things we like--it's a Trojan Horse.
• the end of the highly successful approach to AIDS in Africa that stresses abstinence and monogamy.
Far from clear to me, (a) that Congress will go along and if Congress does want to go in that direction, that (b) McCain will be reliable against that, for reasons already cited.
That’s to say nothing of nationalized health care, which in other countries has become a synonym for rationed care and has brought inexorable pressures against respect for the dignity of human life. Under national health care, bureaucrats will determine that limited resources go where they can do “the most good.” So the system will simply refuse to cover high-risk pregnancies or humane end-of-life care for the elderly and the dying.
Right--simply electing a Democrat to the White House, along with a Democratic Congress, is all that it takes to get this sort of thing; after all, remember how President Bill Clinton rammed this through in 1993? Oh, wait...never mind.
That’s also to say nothing of the appointments presidents make to federal agencies. The Obama and Clinton teams will appoint political operatives to agencies across the federal government. Many of them will be pro-abortion activists. They will build their ideology directly or indirectly into countless regulations, national policies and guidelines — and not just in our schools, and federal welfare programs, but in the myriad programs the government is involved in.
Probably on balance, Obama or Clinton's appointments will be more offensive to me than McCain's. But this is not a huge consideration. Did eight years of Bush's appointment-power make everything wonderful? No; and neither will four years of Obama's make everything terrible. This is a very weak argument, seems to me.
I really like the National Catholic Register, but when people ask me what I mean by "overwrought activists," this is precisely what I mean.