Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Giuliani and Abortion

Ann Althouse discusses Sean Hannity's interview with Rudy Giuliani and the latter's aparent attempt to apeal to social conservatives. His points are fairly unremarkable and pretty much what we have heard from centrists for the past few decades. Easy to ignore, actually. But pay a little attention to what he says about whether Roe v. Wade was a good decision:

Where I stand on abortion is: I oppose it. I don't like it. I hate it. I think abortion is something that, as a personal matter, I would advise somebody against. However, I believe in a woman's right to choose. I think you have to ultimately not put a woman in jail for that, and I think, ultimately, you have to leave that to a disagreement of conscience, and you have to respect the choice that somebody makes.

Note, first of all, that he did not answer the question. But the disturbing thing about Giuliani's statement is not what it reveals about his policy preference -- which we knew and could be persuaded to accomodate for reasons of expediency -- but what it shows about his view of conservatives. The mere suggestion that conservatives would like to see women thrown into jail for seeking an abortion is insulting and shows a disturbing lack of engagement with conservative principles.

If Giuliani had been trying to appeal to liberal voters and had said, "Of course, I believe in a woman's right to choose, but I think women ought to be prevented from actually eating their babies," wouldn't that make you want to scream? But that is only slightly more exagerated than what he implies about the conservative position.

This is precisely the problem that Bush had with the Miers nomination. He wants to appeal to conservatives but he does not have a clear idea about what conservatives find appealing or, more importantly, why.

Note, also, that this proves that Sean Hannity is not a conservative ideologue but merely a republican tool. If he were the former, he would not have let Giuliani's slur go unrebuked. At least he could have made some comment to counteract the proliferation of this facile caricature. If you watch his show regularly, it quickly becomes aparent that he is only good at rebutting the Cynthia McKinney faction of the crazy-left. If he is confronted with a liberal (or centrist) that has a modicum of sense, he retreats to his list of talking points and waits for the commercial break. Maybe that is all we can expect of media pundits, but I confess that I have long since lost my patience with the lot of them.


sonia said...

Interesting nuances.

However, the root of the problem is the internal contradiction of the conservative position. Religion is found on the principle that people can do wrong or they can do right. There is free will involved.

But on the issue of abortion, this principle is slightly deformed. Conservatives want abortion to be forbidden by law, therefore forcing people to do right.

Right now, every woman who refuses to have an abortion despite her difficult circumstances, is a hero. She makes the right decision.

But if abortion was illegal, no woman could make the right decision, the heroic decision. Doing the right thing would be compulsory, and therefore meaningless...

Jack said...

Hmm. Actually I think religion is founded on the principle that we ought to love God so you are partly right that this involves uncoerced behavior. (I don't much like the "free will" language, since it often brings a lot of unnecessary confusion to the issue.)

But government is not religion and does not have the same foundation. The purpose of government is to protect innocent people from those that can't be trusted to do the right thing voluntarily. Surely, you will acknowledge that there are lots of such people in positions of power? Heroism and martyrdom occur when there is no chance of getting the powerful to do the right thing, but as long as we have some chance of achieving the latter, that is what we should strive for.

Wouldn't your analogy apply to slavery as well? A slave owner prior to 1865 in the US who voluntarily freed his slaves would have done a nobler thing than the same slave owner acting under coercion after the Civil War. But that isn't really a good argument against abolition of slavery, is it?

merben said...

I am confused with Giuliani's stand on Abortion. He claims that he hates it because it is wrong but he supports it. He says adoption is a better option than abortion. If so, then he should advocate it instead of abortion.