Monday, September 26, 2005

Are Prolifers to blame?

Manuel Miranda, the former aide to Senate Minority (oops--Majority; sometimes I can't tell) Leader Bill Frist, has been writing interesting things about the nomination process for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, he has a column in the Wall Street Journal: "Roe Row: Pro-lifers largely stayed out of the Roberts fight. That was a mistake. " (Click on headline above to go there.)

It is not true that prolifers were silent, though perhaps they could be louder.

The National Pro Life Alliance (in the interest of full disclosure, I am affiliated with it) has consistently called on the President only to name prolife nominees, in its newsletter and mailings to its nearly half-million members.

Never heard it? Well, NPLA is small, but growing; and while expensive PR may eventually get the Washington Post, NYT and the rest of the chattering class talking, that seems like a very expensive, long, roundabout trip to the people who matter: prolife VOTERS, who in turn have greatest influence on Senators.

So NPLA isn't doing PR, which is why we didn't call Mr. Miranda. Rather, NPLA is contacting its own members and generating letters, petitions and postcards, directed to the Senate and White House.

If Mr. Miranda didn't find out on his own, perhaps he's talking to the wrong people; if he didn't hear about it, maybe he's listening in the wrong places.

Is it working? Hard to say, until we can get candid interviews with folks in the White House; but I feel confident prolifers writing postcards to the White House had a positive influence.

Unfortunately, some prolife organizations have, since 2000, told everyone far and wide that President Bush was our hero, could do no wrong, was utterly trustworthy just because he's our friend--which is certainly kind of them, but can only put a damper on the very sort of grass roots pressure Mr. Miranda says is needed.

Since the battle at question is in the White House--who will the President choose?--then this sort of talk translates into, "the battle is won already." That sort of talk doesn't bring your troops out to the battlefield. Surprise, surprise.

Further, just how much leverage can we have on the White House? The President isn't up for re-election. We can have more on the Senators. And it is worth noting how several of the Senators on the Judiciary Committee highlighted the prolife issue in the hearings.

But just how much heat do you suppose must be created before a GOP Senator will openly oppose a GOP President's nominee? That Brownback and Coburn are showing signs of impatience is a testimony, not to prolife passivity, but impatience from prolife grass roots.

Update: In fairness to Mr. Miranda, I should say more: I think what he writes is largely true in this regard: certainly the White House has been trying to tame prolifers, and keep them singing the White House-written chorus; and I have no doubt many prolifers of prominence went along with this.

I'm proud to say the NPLA doesn't play that game. The NPLA takes its marching orders from conscience and from its members, not politicians.

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