Thursday, April 17, 2008

McCain Manipulating The Abortion Issue

I always have believed that John McCain was not the strongest candidate the Repub Party could have nominated to run against Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. I still believe that, but his manner of addressing the issue of abortion during the April 15, 2008 episode of MSNBC's Hardball gave me concern.

Here is what the Arizona senator said in relevant part:

And I want to say that the rights of the unborn is one of my most important values, but we can have disagreement.... I realize you’re going to have to change the culture of America before there’s full respect given to the right of the unborn.

Logically or not: 1)approximately 45% of this country can be considered "pro-choice," approximately 45% "pro-life," and approximately 10% unsure or very much middle-of-the-road; 2)most Americans-virtually all of those who are "pro-life" and some who are not- oppose, even in some cases fear, the repeal of Roe v. Wade; 3)some (probably a large minority) of those who are pro-choice believe nevertheless that life begins at conception while very few of those who are pro-life believe that life does not begin at conception. Hence, most voters- the pro-life contingent and most sitting on the fence- are likely to be sympathetic to McCain's reference to fetuses as "the unborn."

Still, the brilliance of McCain's remarks is better illustrated by the declaration "you're going to have to change the culture of America." To the anti-abortion rights faction he is saying: I'm anti-abortion, period- and I recognize the decadence of 'the culture.' And to all others he is saying (with a nod and a wink), what Repub politicians have said in recent years. (This includes George W. Bush, who in response to a question at a 10/03 press conference declared "I don't think the culture has changed to the extent that the American people or the Congress would totally ban abortions.") It is this: "Don't worry, I'm not going to press for the repeal of Roe v. Wade. I'm going to talk a good game, remind you that I believe that the act of abortion is an abomination, but it'll still be an option when necessary."

If you don't believe this is an effective balancing act, consider that syndicated conservative talk show host Michael Medved on his program of 4/16/08 spoke approvingly of McCain's abortion comments, not realizing that he was being had. Or possibly, like many liberal folks (especially in the mainstream media), I am comforted by McCain's words of moderation, not realizing that at base he is, and in the White House will be, hard right. But on this issue at least, not likely- I've seen this act before. Ronald Wilson Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush: abortion to be used as a wedge issue to mollify the conservative base, but nothing really to be concerned about.

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