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Buckley on Romney’s and His Own Conscientious Thought About Abortion

Bill asks us not to be quick to dismiss those who confess that they have doubts and even changes of mind on great moral questions. The truly damning charge against the Democrats is that they want to stifle moral deliberation on issues over which the country is, quite understandably, divided. And that’s the same charge that was rightly brought against the Democrats in the years prior to the Civil War.

Discussions - 11 Comments

Hmmm ... another abortion/slavery comparison.

An excellent column.

This is the same kind of conversion B.S. that infiltrated evangelicalism in the 1800's on. Somehow we think that people who were once on the bad side and then converted or "evolved" are great saints. Switching positions somehow makes them more complete, thoughtful, and understanding human beings. NO, a person who was wrong for years and then became right is not as appealing as one who always was right.

For example: I used to believe in and practice eating little kids. I thought that as long as I purchased them, it was my God-given right. However, a few years ago, I was walking down the road to Salt Lake, and a lighting bolt came out of the sky and the angel Moroni told me that this was wrong. I thought about this revelation a while and decided that I should change my ways. Therefore, I present myself as the perfect candidate because I was bad, but now I am good. I understand both sides and can reason and/or revelate to those who are misled as I once was.

Having society, common-sense, and sanity demands stifling certain moral issues and deliberations. I could wake up everyday and turn my whole life into a moral issue. It's immoral for me to eat breakfast because somewhere someone is hungry. It's immoral for me to do anything other than help the poor because I won't starve tomorrow. For my own existence, I necessarily stifle these questions. I could get up everyday and ponder the moral question of whether or not I even exist, but that would be even less productive.

Like the individual, societies must stifle certain moral questions...i.e. murder. We don't need to have a constant moral conversation on murder every election, and we don't need to have one on abortion either. There is no need and no good in discussing certain things. It only leads to a confused society and a confused man. Prudence demands that we take certain moral questions off both the individual and social table upon the foundation of society. Abortion (in the sense that Roe demands) ought to be one of these issues, and as such, Mitt Romney's "changes of mind on great moral questions" are far from endearing in any way!

So, we take the killing of a certain kind of human life off the table and not deal with the issue in a sane, rational manner that deals with concrete specifics and scientific facts regarding human life?

Flip-flopping aside, I have always compared the abortion debate with the slavery debate. The parallels are uncanny (the reluctant pro-choicers - Giuliani - are similar to those who didn't like slavery but thought it necessary to the Souther economy, the more eager pro-choicers are similar to those who argued that slavery was in fact a positive good for the slave).

Regardless of whether Lincoln was a "tyrant" or not, I think those who would like to see abortion severely curtailed ought to pay close attention to what he had to say about slavery.

And Clint, while I don't believe your concern is unfounded, I would not presuppose that Romney changed his mind for political reasons. There are a million reasons (and yes, some of them are political expediency) for which someone might change their views, and in light of Giuliani's persistent waffling on the issue (he has lost my unofficial support) I am willing to hope that Romney is sincere and if not hope that he will at least fulfill his promises.

Clint, your comments have no application to Buckley, and I hope you'll read his column and acknowledge that they don't. He doesn't claim a superlative, saintlike moral status for Romney. He says we should be grateful for people who think about these things, rather than harden their hearts and consciences as the liberals have.

I have complained that this presidential campaign is going to be too long and too tedious to bear. David Henninger wrote a very good column for last Thursday's WSJ saying that it might be actually too short for Republicans, given the muddle over who is the right candidate, which stems from the muddle about what it is to be a Republican. He convinced me.


Clint, in some ideal world, abortion would not be a moral question. A right to life would be an absolute. In our world, it is just that, a moral question and if we do not discuss and persuade as to morality, then people tend to do what is practical. Abortion is practical. Murder might be practical, too, but as the victim might be me, I can see the immorality of the thing. Forbidding abortion is going to be a hard sell because of the impractical morality that requires this absolute good over whatever it means in practical terms to you. Well, not you, but to someone. The victim is unseen.


We have to be grateful to people who change their minds on this issue, as Reagan did. To have been right from the beginning would be lovely, but surely conversion to right is better than a blind adherence to wrong for the sake of consistency.

I'm glad you're all so open minded. David: Buckley clearly endorses the view that Romney's abortion stance is the result of a "thoughtful moral process."

We should be grateful for this thoughtful moral process, sounds like he's building up Romney to me.

Yeah, and what's wrong with that? I'll certainly take Buckley's judgment over most people's, especially on an issue like this.

What's wrong with Romney? Figure it out for yourself

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