March 13, 2005

Condi & Abortion

A friend asks:

Did Condi just sink her best shot at an '08 run with
the pro choice bit? Iíve felt all along that, as a
party, we are in for a bigger free fall than the dems
if someone like Arnold or Rudy gets the nomination. I
assumed Condi was hard pro life and that she could
keep the religious nuts and that she world pull in
faithful on the dem side too. The rest of the
moderates republicans would go for her for obvious
reasons. Now I think we might actually have another
president Clinton, as Hillary continues to

Hmm, maybe my heart is talking and not my wise political head but I think she's still viable.

I think that she is religious by nature and that will keep the "nuts" in line. I think the GOP is best served by continuing to oppose abortion but you have to keep in mind that a large libertarian wing is up for grabs, and that she could be having her Sister Soljah moment very early in the campaign...

Again, it could be my heart talking. I want a Rice '08 run very badly and her announcement describes my feelings pretty accurately. So, she didn't scare me off. She could come out in favor of the Ten Commandments in courthouses and out-triangulate Senator Clinton.

Pro-lifers, I love to hear: did she scare you off?

Politics Posted by John Kranz at March 13, 2005 3:33 PM

As a pro-lifer, I was disappointed by her position, as I expected her to be pro-life. I was surprised though, that her position included a mention of libertarianism.
So there's hope for other policies, which she may not have had an opportunity to explain.

However, given a choice of Hillary vs Condi, the pro-lifers would line up behind Dr Rice. Why?
A vote for Hillary is a vote for a radical judicary, on many issues, not just pro-life ones. The judiciary is where the abortion issue was "settled." It's where it's going to happen again.

It's Hugh Hewitt's hypothesis of Casey vs Santorum.

In the primaries, it's still anyone's guess over the abortion issue. How many pro-choice GOPers are going to run? Guiliani? Mass's Romney? and Rice? Abortion won't be the big issue.
Who's on the pro-life side and planning on running? Frist? Santorum?
Rice has them beat.
If she runs, it'll be hers.

Immigration is the big issue. It's where the GOP is weakest, and where Hillary could hit very hard.

Posted by: AlexC at March 13, 2005 5:19 PM

As a NON pro-lifer (a.k.a. pro-government controller) I was heartened by Condi's disclosure. Not so much because I'd prefer to see an "it's none of the government's business" chief executive (hey, wasn't that GWB's position in 2000?) but because it puts Rudy on better footing with her in the primaries, and he'd be a better president. Assuming, of course, that he steers clear of gun legislation.

Posted by: johngalt at March 13, 2005 5:25 PM

Can you say President John Kerry? Thanks to the three million plus evangelical Christians, who chose to not sit out the last election, John Kerry doesn't get to hear "Hail To the Chief" when he walks into rooms. Alex C is right to point out the importance of the Supreme Court, but for a lot of these voters, it simply doesn't matter; they will not go to the polls for a pro-choice candidate. It is much easier for moderate, pro-choice Republican to support a pro-life candidate, than the other way around.
Nothing would warm my heart more than the party of Lincoln sending a Black woman to the White House, but I would find it very difficult to vote for that woman if she were pro choice. I would rather lose an election in the hope of bringing the party back to the right than win one and lose it to the middle permanently. Assuming there isn't another terrorist attack on our soil, and that the electorate stays split 50/50, a pro choice Republican can't win the White House.

Posted by: sugarchuck at March 14, 2005 3:57 PM

I'm going to composite a "no" response. If this diverse group is not scared off, I don't think it's over. I even wonder if it might be good politics. President Clinton's "safe, legal, and rare, and we all appreciated the libertarian slant to some extent.

Johngalt, Secretary Rice is rock solid on gun issues, with a convincing tale of personal defense among black citizens in the segregated south.

Posted by: jk at March 14, 2005 4:09 PM

I did not see SugarChuck's comment before I tallied the result.

What she said was: "I am a strong proponent of parental notification. I am a strong proponent of a ban on late-term abortion. These are all things that I think unite people and I think that that's where we should be.
"We ought to have a culture that says, 'Who wants to have an abortion? Who wants to see a daughter or a friend or a sibling go through something like that?' "
Miss Rice described abortion as an "extremely difficult moral issue" which she approaches as "a deeply religious person."
"My faith is a part of everything that I do," she said. "It's not something that I can set outside of anything that I do, because it's so integral to who I am."
I find it difficult to believe that an evangelical Christian would stay home rather than vote for the speaker of those words. Especially against whomever NARAL nominates on the other side.

I could be wrong, but I'd guess the number would be comparable to the number of libertarians afraid of W's religiosity.

Posted by: jk at March 14, 2005 4:28 PM

A comment comes through email, suggesting that a Condi-Hillary run would include similar language from both camps on faith. But that a President Clinton 44 (It pains me to type that sequence....) would surely nominate another Ginsberg and abortions would be provided in public schools at taxpayer expense.

A President Rice, my friend fears, or even Giuliani, might give us another Souter. "If you are looking for the supreme court to interpret the constitution based on what it says and what was intended by the framers, rather than to divine emanations and penumbra, your best bet is a pro life candidate, whether you hold that position or not. Any judicial nominee who gives Roe a pass can't be a true conservative judge. I know you know the history of Roe and the state v. fed arguments, so I won't go into them, but if you support a Rudy or Condi and expect them to put conservative judges on the bench you will be Soutered..."

I was hit where I live as strict constructionist judges are what I crave. I appreciate the argument that a pro-lifer is a good way to get there, but question that it is the best or only way.

Here is where Rice could do well. She could say "I personally believe abortion is a matter of the heart and I worry about government intrusion. By the same token, I oppose Roe v. Wade as it prevents State governments from enacting the reasonable restrictions most Americans would support: bans on partial-birth, parental notifications, &c."

That's a winning position that moves the GOP in a more libertarian direction without abandoning its social conservative base.

Posted by: jk at March 15, 2005 10:49 AM

Electing Hillary would be a straight path to taxpayer funded abortions in public schools? Nothing like toning down the rhetoric eh, JK? Look at the Hillary v. Condi election another way, as the first in many years to not be tainted by Roe. Maybe all the pro-lifers will stay home on election day and the rest of us can consider some other issues as we vote for president.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at March 15, 2005 12:51 PM

You and Hillary would like that very much, wouldn't you Silence? I think "pro-lifers" i.e. pro-unborn baby's life and anti-mother's life, are wrong but I appreciate the fact that they are more often than not traditionalists. You know, the tradition that says that all laws of this land must be consistent with the Constitution?

As for the sniping about rhetoric, I took it as a humorous attempt at predicting one possible scenario under the "anything goes" doctrine of the Deaniac wing of the Dementiacrat Party.

Posted by: johngalt at March 15, 2005 3:01 PM


Just having a little fun -- I thought the jocular hyperbole was obvious.

I think the original point was that, if the pro-lifers all stay home, Senator Clinton will win. I don't want that and the reasons have little to do with abortion.

Guys like us want abortion to go away like the presidents between Tyler and Lincoln wanted slavery to go away. I don't think it will happen until Roe v. Wade is overturned, and the individual states can enact their own laws.

So I welcome a candidate that might make the distinction between support for Roe v. Wade and support for abortion. I would consider that a principled position and I think it could be good politics.

I'll retract my slam on Senator Clinton but claim the point holds that any Democrat will likely give us another Ginsberg, and that pro-lifers should ascertain that we do no worse than another Souter.

Posted by: jk at March 15, 2005 3:14 PM

If you would like a conservative judge, like Robert Bork, making decisions about national security, busniness, trade, etc... know that he will find Roe abhorent and only a president that finds Roe equally abhorent will commit to the hard task of putting a judge like Bork on the bench.
If, on the other hand, you would like to see a moderate or moderate to left justice nursemaid the constitution through its evolution, or if you'd like a justice who feels he must not only interpret our laws, but the laws of other countries and foriegn bodies as well, pick a moderate, status quo candidate for president.
It is possible that a Rudy or Condi might ignore their own views on abortion and appoint a strict construcitonist, but i doubt it. Nor do I think that "doing no worse than Souter" will suffice. If you want a justice, pick a pro life candidate for the presidency. If you want a legislator with a life time term, pick a moderate.

Posted by: sugarchuck at March 15, 2005 3:38 PM

I fear that you might be right, sc, but I hope that you are not. If I were President (don't laugh, Silence, and I'll get you a good cabinet position) *I* would Appoint -- and back to the hilt -- strict constructionist justices.

And yet I describe my position, mirabile dictu, almost exactly the same as does Secretary Rice!

Posted by: jk at March 16, 2005 1:30 PM

This is an interesting conversation about political philosophy and as such, I am compelled to add a couple observations.

First, one must be specific about his usage of the term "moderate." One Barry Goldwater changed positions from anti-abortion to pro-choice ( yet is also famous for the assertion, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

Second, I believe JK has let slip evidence that he simply doesn't understand what the abortion debate is all about. He writes, "Guys like us want abortion to go away like the presidents between Tyler and Lincoln wanted slavery to go away. I don't think it will happen until Roe v. Wade is overturned, and the individual states can enact their own laws." The laws that states may enact if Roe is overturned are laws of prohibition on individual liberty. History has proven such laws to be a waste of time. Prohibition comes to mind, as do the totalitarian rules in places like Ukraine, Lebanon and Iran.

Yes, no matter how you slice it an abortion is a homicide, but imposing a law against it denies self-determination for the greater of the two parties involved - the mother. If individual liberty is your highest value then a law against abortion is immoral. If your morality calls for outlawing rational individual self-determination then you are a collectivist.

Any abortion alternative, and I support them all, MUST be chosen by the mother without duress.

Posted by: johngalt at March 16, 2005 3:14 PM

IF this were a dinner party, my wife would have long ago told me to shut up and pulled me from the table, before further embarrassing myself, but she is not here, so I'll dribble rebuttal down my shirtfront.
Keep in mind there is abortion and there is Roe v. Wade. They are not the same thing. The strict constructionist will object to Roe, not because of his moral views on abortion but because of the way it was decided. For an excellent explanation of Roe, I would suggest Robert Bork's "The Tempting of America."
The problem for supporters of abortion rights, that might otherwise wish to see a strict construcitonist on the bench, is that that judge will be a "no" vote, should the court revisit Roe. Any justice willing to give Roe a pass will be at best a situational constructionist, deciding more on personal whim that on text and intent. So do you pick a president that will undermine your moral stance on abortion in order to have decisions on security, commerce, environment etc... based on the constitution, or do you pick a president who will want to preserve Roe and accept the crapshoot of emanations and penumbra that will certainly follow.
Sometime remind me to tell ya'all about the time me and Al Gore's best buddy squared off on the Supreme Court, abortion and Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. That was a wang dang doodle!

Posted by: sugarchuck at March 16, 2005 5:05 PM

Sugarchuck: You must share that tale with us. If you'd be so kind as to email it to me, I would give it its own post, which it obviously deserves.

Johngalt: Man, I pay money to be insulted like this -- that must be a failure of free market capitalism on some level. I think I profoundly and dispassionately understand the abortion debate, but that's just my trademark modesty.

If the good people of the great State of Nebraska wish to legislate, through legal means, that D&X abortions will not be performed in the state, or that no doctor shall perform any abortion on a minor without a "reasonable effort" to notify a parent or guardian, I am all for it. Surely you are not countenancing the judicial overreach that is Roe v. Wade just because you approve of the outcome?

And while I'm defending myself: of course, sc, I expect my strict constructionist to strike down Roe v. Wade. But that is a byproduct of intellectual honesty, not a raison d'etre. I absolutely do not want to keep Roe v. Wade, but I can look moderate voters in the eye and tell them that I am not doing this to outlaw abortion. Principled Leadership in a jk administration (Silence, how about Education? Interior? EPA? HUD?)

Posted by: jk at March 16, 2005 5:48 PM

At the risk of jeopardizing my cabinet appointment I have to disagree a bit with JK and I guess quite a bit with sugarchuck. My reading of the Constitution and the 9th and 14th amendments (those most specifically claimed to have been infringed by the Texas criminal statutes that brought about the suit by Jane Roe) in particular lead me to a rather different analysis of what constitutes a "constructionist" judge. The 9th and 10th amendments were meant to be catch-alls, namely the 9th did not limit citizen's rights to those specifically enumerated in the Constitution and the 10th gave to the States powers not claimed by the Federal government. The 9th has always seemed to me to be one of those far sighted pieces of the Constitution that provided for change, even change that the framers might not be able to imagine. So in this amendment, part of the Bill of Rights without which we likely would not have had a Constitution, is a specific reference to a multitude of personal rights both those not stated at the time and those not even imagined at the time. Next up is the 14th, often thought of as the right to privacy, but in fact encompassing due process, the right to life, liberty and property, and equally treatment under law. This was a direct result of the 13th amendment ending slavery and was meant to bestow upon all citizens a right of freedom to live their life as they should so choose, to have free choice in all matters concerning their life, liberty and property. The reality of the times was that even though slaves had been freed from their masters, many state laws and regulations existed to deprive former slaves of true freedom to determine their own lives. So in the 9th amendment the Constitution granted unenumerated personal rights directly to the citizens themselves and the 14th strengthened this by specifically forbidding States to pass laws infringing these rights. I would say that both by wording and by spirit the amendments sought to construct a Constitution with vast personal freedom not to be abridged without due process.

Does your constructionist argument against Roe stem from the 10th amendment that the States have the power to enact laws against abortion? The actual Roe decision sought very specifically to enumerate a viability point before which a fetus was part of the mother's body and thus covered by Constitutional protections afforded to her, and after which the States would have a right to regulate abortion except for preservation of the mother's life. The decision did not trample the 10th amendment but sought to balance it with the 9th and 14th. The point of viability is of course a sticky wicket and one that medical science has and will continue to change. This however begs the question of how the baby's viability would be protected, by forcing the mother to carry to term, by removing the fetus and using a surrogate or laboratory? Seems to me there would be just a few Constitutional issues with any of those outcomes, thereby putting you right back in the Constitutional interpretation area that you sought to avoid

Posted by: Silence Dogood at March 17, 2005 11:30 AM

Excellent analysis Silence. One with which I agree except for your choice of the word "change" as a characteristic of the constitution that the framers intended. Instead I would say that your catch-all characterization is correct, and that the ninth amendment was the framers' way of telling the government to "leave people alone."

I'd also like to add to your analysis that the fourth amendment is germane to this issue: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, ... against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated," to which I say what is more unreasonable than to search a woman's uterus? I believe that this is the infamous "right to privacy" that the anti-abortionists cite as an abominable revision of the framers' intent. But, especially when coupled with the ninth amendment, this is a perfectly valid conclusion as to the broad meaning of the fourth. Once again, leave the people alone.

Posted by: johngalt at March 17, 2005 3:04 PM | What do you think? [16]