Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fred... not quite pro-life

A good friend of mine wants to know about Fred Thompson. Ask and ye shall receive.

When Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney all failed to excite the republican base, the party turned to Fred Thompson, an ostensible Reaganite who would unite the base, in the hopes, certainly not of winning the election, but at least of keeping the race close enough so that Hillary's win didn't seem to be a foregone conclusion. In other words, Fred was to be Bob Dole 2.0.

There was a fair amount of enthusiasm for Thompson, but upon entering the race, he proved even less exciting that Rudy McRomney. Joe Carter of The Evangelical Outpost, and the founder of Blogs For Fred, yanked his support of Thompson--good--only to support Huckabee--worse.

(Huckabee is a different topic for another day; for some reason, his campaign is doing okay. I still hold that he'll be given the V.P. in order to attract members of the religious right who tend to forget that mere belief in Christ is not concomitant with governing according to Christian principles.)

Ann Coulter, whose incendiary ravings border on the sophistical, but who is nonetheless one of the few conservative commentators who isn't buying into the "anybody but Hillary" nonsense, was similarly unimpressed. She writes:

Conservatives unhappy with our Republican presidential candidates seem to be drifting aimlessly toward Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee in the misguided belief that these candidates are more conservative than Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. This is like breaking up with Bobby Brown so you can date Phil Spector...

In 1999, Sen. Fred Thompson joined legal giants like Sens. Jim Jeffords, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to vote against removing Bill Clinton from office for perjury.

Thompson, whom President Nixon once called "dumb as hell," claimed to have carefully studied the Constitution and determined that perjury by the president of the United States did not constitute "high crimes and misdemeanors." He must have been looking at one of those living, breathing Constitutions we've heard so much about.

Fred's big thing is "federalism". Much like George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism", "federalism" is a term which can be used in a vague way so as to ensure willfully naive conservatives that Fred is one of them. In 2000, John McCain was considered too liberal, so we went for the strange man from Texas who seemed conservative enough. Fast forward seven years, and Fred, whose Senatorial votes place him right with John McCain, is now the conservative hero. Only he's so dull he can't even pose as a viable alternative to Giuliani.

But the problems with Fred don't stop there. Earlier in the week, he received the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC). This move is surpassed in senselessness only by Pat Robertson's recent endorsement of Rudy Giuliani. I loathe political pragmaticism, and both of these moves demonstrate political pragmaticism of the worst kind. For Fred is not particularly pro-life; and whereas Robertson can argue--wrongly--that his guy can beat Hillary, Fred's campaign is dead in the water. Perhaps the NRLC was hoping to inject some needed momentum into a campaign which is as sluggish as the sloth who is running it; but, if that's the case, why not endorse someone who is strongly pro-life. Maybe even someone who has delivered over four thousand babies. You know, someone like Ron Paul.

It's embarrassing, too, how an organization with one goal, which is both noble and legitimate, can fail so spectacularly at picking out a candidate who firmly supports attaining that goal. Vox Day wasn't fooled by the man he calls "the Tennessee Toad", and with the easy access of information provided by the Internet, it's not that hard to conclude, with Vox, that Fred isn't a man pro-lifers can support:

Consider the way in which Sean Hannity intervened to prevent the senator from committing a gaffe that would have betrayed his true views on abortion to pro-life Republicans on Hannity's show:

[Sean speaking in the next paragraph. How does one embed italics within italics?]

After asserting he "always thought Roe v. Wade was a wrong decision," the actor-politician said: "I would not be, and never have been, for a law that says, on the state level, if I were back in Tennessee voting on this, for example, that, if they chose to criminalize a young woman, and ..." Co-host Sean Hannity then interrupted: "So, states rights for you?" Thompson replied: "Essentially, federalism. It's in the Constitution."

[Vox again:]

In other words, while Thompson believes, quite properly, that Roe v. Wade infringes upon states rights, he still opposes the criminalization of abortion on a state level. This means he is pro-choice; he is simply not rabidly pro-choice like feminists and other Democrats who are perfectly happy to use the Constitution as toilet paper if that will allow them to murder just one more unborn child.

I'm a firm believer that the Republican Party doesn't want to do anything about abortion; after all, maintaining the status quo helps keep pro-lifers voting for candidates who, wonder of wonders, never manage to do anything about the abortion holocaust. We're assured that the judges they appoint will one day reverse Roe, and, at the very least, return the case to the states, where the decision should be rightfully made. And yet, with seven of nine justices on SCOTUS appointed by republican presidents, Roe is alive and well. You may doubt my cynicism, but when major newspapers like the Washington Post, not known for controversial subjects, are questioning the judgment of the NRLC, you know something might be remiss when it comes to Fred's "pro-life" views:

Recently, Mr. Thompson refused to support a constitutional amendment that would protect innocent life by restricting the availability of abortions. The sanctity-of-life amendment was a core plank in the Republican Party's 2004 election platform, and yet Mr. Thompson said he could not support it, saying his objection stems from his federalist views.

However, in 1995 he voted for a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning. If he were concerned about states rights he would have let them issue their own laws on the matter. Also, if Mr. Thompson were concerned about cluttering the constitution with superfluous amendments, he would not have supported a 1997 constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.

These are some of the facts showing why we think it is interesting that the nation's premier pro-life organization would back a candidate with such a checkered past and present on abortion.

Pro-lifers need to be careful about following in the footsteps of every nominal pro-life candidate or organization. As humans, we are all fallible, and as conservatives have been finding out during Bush's years, we are more than capable of being duped. It'd be nice if Fred experienced a genuine conversion regarding abortion, but all the evidence demonstrates that he hasn't.

It doesn't really matter if Hillary wins when the republicans running for the presidency all share her views. If Ron Paul does manage to get the nod, pro-lifers will be able to enthusiastically support him in good conscience. Barring that, we'll have to find ourselves a third-party candidate--or just stay home. It won't be the first time, and, unfortunately, it probably won't be the last. But supporting the lesser evil comes with a hefty price tag, and it's not even vaguely worth paying.


troutsky said...

Reading over your last few posts I sense a yearning for a system that is more worthy ,still has ideals, is not just a cynical game.In order to help create one you simply need to be willing to discard what isn't working in favor of something that might.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

In order to help create one you simply need to be willing to discard what isn't working in favor of something that might.

I'll bite. Can you expound?

I think the current system of government we have is incompatible with liberty. Universal suffrage is a tremendously bad idea. Ron Paul has given me some hope, but I'm lucky in that my Faith allows me to put little stock in this world.

Throughout history, only a small number of people have been fortunate enough to have been reasonably free. Still smaller is the group that has responsible for the state of mankind's freedom.

So while it is disappointing that things are going badly, there is little I, or anyone else, can do about it.

After all, if the elites thought we could enact drastic change, they wouldn't let us vote.