A Cynical Attempt To Harvest Votes?

EJ Dionne reflects on the meaning of Rudy Giuliani’s decision to speak plainly about his support for abortion rights and what it means for the Republican Party. Instead of acknowledging that his front-runner status despite his well-known pro-choice views demonstrates a larger tent than the media usually credits the GOP for having, Dionne argues that it reveals a cynical reliance on pro-life emotions to harvest votes:

Giuliani will also test the seriousness of those who claim that abortion is the decisive issue in the political choices they make.
Will conservative Catholic bishops and intellectuals, along with evangelical preachers and political entrepreneurs, be as tough on Giuliani as they were on John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign? If they are not, how will they defend themselves against charges of partisan or ideological hypocrisy?
Republicans in power have done remarkably little to live up to their promises to antiabortion voters. Yes, President Bush signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, and the two justices Bush appointed to the Supreme Court joined the 5 to 4 majority to uphold it. But all third-trimester abortions combined account for less than 1 percent of abortions.
Republicans are steadfast against using public money to pay for abortions. That leaves abortions available to better-off women who can afford them and who often vote Republican. It limits access only for low-income women, who rarely vote Republican.
What Republicans have stopped pushing, or even talking much about, is a constitutional amendment to repeal Roe v. Wade, the landmark case legalizing abortion. They prefer gauzy language that sends soothing messages to pro-lifers without upsetting voters who favor abortion rights.

It’s probably best to take these arguments one at a time. First, Giuliani has not tried to use his Catholicism as a campaign point. Kerry made quite a show of attending Mass as part of his presidential campaigning in 2004, and he was not alone in that, either; other pro-choicers like Nancy Pelosi did the same. The Church reacted to that by reminding them that support for abortion violated the basic tenets of Church teaching and put Kerry, Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, and others in danger of excommunication — a stand that Pope Benedict reiterated in Mexico earlier this month.
Kerry made his Catholicism an issue, and critics pointed out the hypocrisy. I doubt Giuliani will make that mistake, and up to now, he hasn’t.
It’s true that third-trimester abortions account for less than 1% of all abortions. It’s also true that the US has aborted over 44 million children in the past four decades, which means that we have aborted almost a half-million viable infants in the third trimester. That’s nothing to shrug off. Note also that the partial-birth abortion kills the child by delivering all but the head and then deliberately murdering it by sucking out its brain. Even its supporters couldn’t come up with a single objective reason to perform that procedure.
Republicans oppose public financing for abortions because we don’t believe that the federal government should be in the business of aborting babies. If it’s a choice, as abortion supporters keep reminding us, then let it remain a choice. It’s not a question of keeping abortion an option only for the rich, and that formulation is very disingenuous. And if Dionne believes that women of means who choose abortions routinely vote Republican, then I’d like to have a little of what he’s drinking today.
Republicans have stopped talking about a constitutional amendment because Republicans can count. Not only will it not happen, it won’t even come close. Further, Republicans have decided that what ails the Constitution isn’t a lack of amendments but judges who like to legislate from the bench. Eventually, Roe will get overturned not because a Supreme Court wants to make abortion illegal but because a Court will eventually have the intellectual honesty to admit that the decision amounts to an egregious and dangerous overreach by the judiciary. When that happens, abortion will still be legal — but the issue will return to the state legislatures, where it belonged in the first place.
Nothing Rudy has said or done in his public career conflicts with anything Dionne has mentioned in this column. It’s true that Rudy will face some strong opposition from single-issue voters — but the real story is that those have proven far fewer thus far than the media has credited.

9 thoughts on “A Cynical Attempt To Harvest Votes?”

  1. Intellectual honesty from the courts? From the branch that’s “more equal than others”?
    I can’t wait.
    But to pass the time (there’ll be plenty), The GOP could think about entering a candidate that makes tax reform (i.e. FairTax), national defense, and a recognition of the 10th Amendment major points in their platform.
    I can’t think of a single declared candidate I’d give the time of day to.

  2. Many Dems are afraid that Rudy could actually get nominated, chose a “real” conservative for his running mate to please the Rupublican base, and then go on to beat the dems in 2008.
    My only request to Guiliani is that he show some interest in enforcing the immigration laws. He need to show some “growth” on that issue.

  3. Immigration should be the issue of the 2008 campaign. Neither party wants this to be “front & center”; the people will have to make it so.
    Abortion has been the preferred topic of choice most of my adult life. Professional lip service is all it is. “Immigration” & the “war on terror” are the two most pressing concerns for me.

  4. Regarding PBA, I have a liberal friend who insists that everyone who reads The New Yorker knows that PBA is only performed when the baby is anencephalic or would otherwise die within hours of birth and that PBA is safer for the mother than either a natural birth or a C-section. Unfortunately, she cannot point me to the article she remembers reading.

  5. Per Al’s comment, there are good reasons for D&X, and I’m a bit surprised by the captain’s oversight (one can simply read Ginsberg’s dissent in the recent SCOTUS case). The short version is that there are times when D&X is safer for the woman, and carries fewer risks of complication.

  6. The media template is already clear :
    HIghlight Republican front-runner “weaknesses” by using wedge issues that will divide and depress the Republican base.
    Giuliani – Abortion, Gays, Guns
    Romney – Mormon, Mormon, Mormon
    McCain – Iraq, Temper, Unstable
    Fred Thompson – Actor playing a role
    At the same time, the only major problem they can find with Democrats is that mistakes were made in believing President Bush.

  7. Good reasons for ‘D&X’? Depends on what counts as a ‘good reason’. The flat medical fact is that any baby who would have been killed by PBA could easily have been delivered and his life attempted to be saved, at little excess risk to the mom. But by all means, let’s continue this barbaric procedure on the 100’s of babies a year currently being murdered by butchers in this way; we couldn’t possibly ask any woman to risk even a teensy weensy bit to enhance the welfare of her baby, now could we?
    We are in so deep. Millions of babies a year. God is simply not going to let that kind of thing go on indefinitely. He shut down the child sacrifices to Moloch, and He’ll shut down the sacrifices to the god of ‘choice’ eventually. And we won’t like the bill He’s going to send us.

  8. This is so silly. Reminds of the Dave Barry quote:
    “The candidate garnered 54% of the vote to emerge victorious, despite widespread allegations of vote-garnering.”

  9. Rudy’s a Catholic? How so? He’s divorced and remarried (I think current is wife numero tre) so his problems with Catholics run deeper than just his opinion on the legality of abortion, as contrasted with his opinion on the morality of it.
    I just don’t understand why these people continue to insist that he’s a Catholic…

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