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Hiding pro-lifers

posted by awelborn

Manuel Miranda on the administration, pro-lifers, and the Supreme Court nominations:

Preparing for the Supreme Court fight, pro-lifers were told by White House surrogates to stay out of the light and out of the newspapers, to be quiet so as not to scare the horses. Even before Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement this summer, while liberal reporters worked to connect conservative concern over the Supreme Court with the abortion issue, pro-lifers were measuring their words, beating each other up, and trying not to appear too demanding of the president that, in the small margins that matter, they had elected.

Ever so smoothly, pro-lifers were corralled and managed, so that if the president appointed yet another Republican disappointment to the Supreme Court, it would be too late after the fact to do anything about it. It isn’t that pro-life leaders don’t trust President George W. Bush. They do. They trust what they think is a working internal compass. Yet there is the fear that for some who surround him "Roe versus Wade" are merely two alternative means of exiting New Orleans.

(That last line apparently being a variation a joke someone sent me a couple of weeks ago, that I guess was making the rounds: Q: What does the President think of Roe v. Wade?  A: The president really doesn’t care how people leave New Orleans. )

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posted September 26, 2005 at 12:24 am

I hadn’t heard that one.

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Daniel Jeffries

posted September 26, 2005 at 1:04 am

I really hope that abortion could be made illegal in America, could have a huge influence on the rest of the world. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

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posted September 26, 2005 at 8:42 am

Sounds like a great way to transform the culture!
It’s a mortal sin to vote for our opponenets, since they support abortion, but then we’d really appreciate it if you would keep quiet about the million unborn children being killed every year.

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posted September 26, 2005 at 8:58 am

Sounds like a good political decision to me. Spector would never have voted for Roberts and he may not have made it out of committee. But Bush needs to recommend a strong conservative as his next nominee to the High Court in order to set his legacy. If he fails to recommend a strong conservative he will be remembered as a president who squandered opportunity and he will be remembered as a man without convictions. Hopefully he will think about long term results and their impact on the USA and the world, something he has failed to do in the last few years.

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posted September 26, 2005 at 10:45 am

To clarify my point a bit, we’re not going to end the scourge of abortion by sneaking in a few justices who will overrule Roe v. Wade. We’re going to do it by boldly proclaiming the worth of unborn life so that it is shared and affirmed by everyone.
Yes, overturning Roe v. Wade is a necessary first step, but if we do it by being really quiet and sneaky, I don’t think it’s going to transform the culture.
This president was elected in large part by the pro-life vote. We shouldn’t be afraid to flex our muscles at times other than presidential elections.

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posted September 26, 2005 at 10:49 am

Here’s what I posted on my own site (click on my name 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; it is contacting its own members and generating letters, petitions and postcards, directed to the Senate and White House.
If Mr. Miranda didn’t know about it, 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.

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posted September 26, 2005 at 11:04 am

Let me add something further:
This highlights the crucial decision that was made, over five years ago, to give then-Gov. Bush the “pro-life seal of approval.” Back then, in the primaries, was when prolifers had their leverage on the White House over this; not now.
And that leverage was squandered by at least one major prolife organization.
Alan Keyes and Gary Bauer — then primary opponents of Gov. Bush — hammered George Bush over his weakness on prolife: he supported (then and now) abortion for rape-and-incest (i.e., he took a weaker stance than Reagan and, yes, his own father’s stance in 1988 and 1992), and he refused to pledge his court nominees would be solid on Roe.
In GOP primaries, these are potent issues, and Bush was weak in this area. It was the key time for prolifers to have their greatest impact on him.
Unfortunately, the National Right to Life Committee issued a release criticizing…wait for it…
Bauer and Keyes! For causing problems for the eventual nominee, blah blah blah.
Prolife objections to Bush were brushed aside as trivial; “we should all pull together,” we were told, and the moment passed. “Don’t worry, Bush will do the right thing,” we were told; and anyone who doubted was scolded.
That was the moment.

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posted September 26, 2005 at 11:24 am

Ever feel like you’re walking around with the word “SUCKER” tatooed on your forehead? Pretty much started for me when I walked out of the voting booth.

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posted September 26, 2005 at 11:43 am

In my experience, a lot of pro-life groups (like any activist groups) develop a sort of “tunnel vision” that their approach is the ONLY approach.
Like “Elect a Republican President who’ll appoint Supreme Court Justices who’ll overturn Roe v Wade”.
Or the above with threats of hellfire and damnation (American Life League used that on me during the Bork circus).
Or Operation Rescue’s “If you don’t join in our street action and go to jail with us, you’re not Really a Christian.”
These days I throw in my $$$ with Human Life Alliance (based in Minnesota). They have a unique approach (paid advertising supplements promoting their view), seem to have their head on straight, and have NEVER high-pressured me.

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David W.

posted September 26, 2005 at 11:43 am

The President’s failure to end government support of embryonic stem cell research in August 2001 is a good example of his weakness on pro-life issues. A complete end to funding would have actually done little to change the overall research in this area because it is primarily privately funded. However, it would have sent a clear message about the value of human life, and perhaps, would have fomented more examination of the flimsy arguments that support this research. The point was not actually the government’s money, but the government’s endorsement which he gave by his weak compromise. Like any half-measure to stop a problem, it failed, and the problem came back with reinforcements.

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posted September 26, 2005 at 4:01 pm

Bush has demonstrated time and again that he will not go to the mat on the issue of abortion. There is no way he will nominate someone who is on the record as being anti-Roe. To do so would trigger a fillibuster and Bush isn’t willing to do that. If the nominee were openly anti-Roe the Republicans would be very unlikely to garner the 60 votes necessary to overcome the fillibuster.
I agree with the person above that the culture is the larger issue and reversing Roe is only a first step. I’m a pro-life activist and I’m continually discouraged at how little the pro-life message is understood and accepted by the average person out there. Because this is the grass roots reality out there, the political reality is that if Bush nominated a McConnell or a Janice Brown, i.e., someone that us pro-lifers would love, the Dems could easily get their outrage machine going and block the nomination.

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posted September 26, 2005 at 4:29 pm

My point isn’t that Bush shouldn’t nominate a pro-life justice, and that pro-lifers don’t have a right to expect it — quite the contrary.
But to try to sneak one in while telling pro-lifers to keep it all on the QT isn’t going to do it.
We’re right on this issue; we don’t have to keep pretending it’s something to be ashamed of.

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Ed the Roman

posted September 26, 2005 at 10:31 pm

He won’t nominate someone who is on record saying “I will vote to overturn Roe” because anyone who said that would recuse from voting to overturn Roe.
There is very little point in busting W because he won’t pee in the wind. Even if Roe were overturned, most abortions would be unaffected. We have a lot of work to do that has nothing to do the Judiciary.

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