Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Clarity on Giuliani’s Views About Abortion

I think Michael Medved makes some very important points in this article today about Rudy Giuliani’s position on the abortion question. As he explains, Giuliani really is "pro-choice" as distinguished from "pro-abortion." Many of us in the pro-life movement have been loathe to make that distinction in the past. But I think it is a real one that should be considered more seriously by pro-life folks. Like Medved, I would consider myself unhesitatingly pro-life. But I can also see that my position is a minority one. I think Rudy comes closer to representing what the vast majority of Americans think about the abortion issue and--when compared to the views of all leading Democrats--it is different and there is much to be preferred in it. It is at least worth considering a possible irony . . . could the least "pro-life" candidate actually do more to advance the pro-life cause than the other more emphatically pro-life candidates? I think it is a distinct possibility.

Discussions - 50 Comments

This position (or distinction) of Mr. Medved's is not new. It is ultimately a class of "distinction without a (significant) difference", and that is not due to the alleged "anger" as Mr. Medved puts it (on both sides), but simply a reality of the subject matter.

Some things, most things (almost all?) in life are "multifaceted", or a "compound", or however your preferred core understanding of the diverse factors that influence most decisions and understandings of the world. However, their is a minority of things that really are more simple. We express this reality when we say "you are either pregnant, or not - one can not be sort of pregnant".

One glaring aspect of life issues, from abortion to euthanasia to capital punishment, is the fact of personhood. You are either a person, or not. So much rests on this fact, morally and practically, that is rightly controls the terms of the debate politically.

Yes, "pro-choice but not pro-abortion" is really a distinction without a difference, because it avoids the central problematic - when is a person a person? It is an attempt at (in this case political) compromise when compromise is neither called for nor practical, given the nature of the subject. It is not a compromise at all, because too many (and here I would disagree with Julie's assessment of the American’s people mood on this subject) know (you can't really not know it) that the central question, the real dilemma, remains unanswered.

Just as an aside, one reason why I think that the mood of the country is changing is the new ultrasound technology that allows people to see the baby in the womb. When people are confronted with a picture, the question "what IS this?" arises, even unconsciously, and it must be answered either way to satisfaction...

I believe that this has been the position of many Democrats, including Bill Clinton, as reflected in his mantra that he sought to make abortion "safe, legal, and rare." One would only seek to make it rare if one thought it was not a desirable option. It amazes me to witness all my Republican friends doing backstands and amazing contortions to accommodate Rudy's deeply flawed abortion position. The phrase "win at any price" comes to mind.

All the discussion of whether Rudy will appoint the right sorts of Justices only shows how badly this issue has been framed in our contemporary politics. Overturning Roe v. Wade was always only a means; its overturning would throw the issue back to the States, and it can be well suspected that very little would change - certainly not immediately. This is a terse way of saying that the abortion issue would become a political issue rather than, strictly speaking, a judicial issue. Given that the true end of overturning Roe is to make the issue once again subject to popular settlement, the idea that we seek a President who will throw us a bone on this issue with a few appointments becomes deeply problematic (as it has always been). Will Rudy be a leader on this issue (any more than any Republican has been since a pro-life plank was added to the platform)? Is there someone who can articulate, from the bully pulpit, the kind of culture in which life in all of its forms will be valued? Has Rudy ever said anything that gives us confidence that he will exert the powers of the office and his rhetorical ability toward effecting this cultural change were the issue to fully re-enter the political arena?

Before I get grief for suggesting that Bill Clinton's position somehow resembles Giuliani's, let me offer another example - that of a line of Catholic Democrats who say that they personally oppose abortion but publically are bound to enforce the Court's decisions. Again I ask - is this position that was once rightly attacked by sensible people on the Right to be embraced in order to garner support for Rudy?

Deneen is right, Democrats for the past 10 years have tried to be pro-choice and pro-life. Your blind partisianship just misses that. Giuliani takes his abortion position straight from the Democratic platform.

To apply Julie's logic: "I consider myself anti-slavery, but I recognize that the majority of the people prefer to choose slave or free. Therefore, I will vote for Douglas because he is the most electable and supports what the people want. In the long term his personal anti-slavery opinion combined with his allowing people to be pro-choice on the slavery issue will lead to freedom."

I thought you claimed to love Lincoln. Once again, you misapply prudence.

Patrick asks: Is there someone who can articulate, from the bully pulpit, the kind of culture in which life in all of its forms will be valued? Leaving aside the question of whether we want to equally value life "in all its forms" (I'm assuming you mean human and not, say animal or plant life) I think the answer right now is "no." There isn't such a person. Many have tried but all have failed. I think that's because I am right about the state of public opinion. It more closely resembles Rudy's than ours. If that is to change, I think it will have to come from the bottom up--not from the "bully pulpit." I don't think that change will come unless or until it once again becomes a "political" and not a "judicial" debate. Getting this back into the states is crucial. Otherwise, many people view this as the exclusive concern of the judicial elites. They don't think their opinions matter because they can't effect anything. Why are they wrong? The only thing our opinions can do is affect who makes court appointments and make some minimal impact on marginal issues like parental consent, etc. I would argue that most people younger than . . . say 45, haven't really considered this issue very deeply because it has been so completely out of our ability to influence it anyway.

Clint: Popular sovereignty a la Douglas on slavery was NEVER a legitimate position because slavery was a recognized (though tolerated) evil in the Constitution. Permitting the voting up or down of slavery would have undone that recognized moral framework. Abortion does not have that kind of history in our Constitution. The pre-1973 abortion situation was always one of state politics and legislation with no moral presumption either way in the Constitution. It was legal in some places and illegal in others. In order to get rid of slavery across the country, we had to have the 13th amendment. Lincoln knew public opinion had to change before that could happen. I am not certain what I think about a pro-life amendment--but I do know it would never pass right now.

There's a lot to what Dr. Pat says. AND the candidate has to understand why it is a constitutional necessity that ROE be overturned. Rudy still hasn't stepped up to the plate...

Peter L. is more correct about his second point--but I welcome the discussion with Deneen. I still can hope that Rudy will step up. He might if he's smart enough to see that it would help him.

I find myself agreeing somewhat more with Julie here. Rudy calls abortion wrong, not right--and he associates with a party and platform that call it wrong. Rudy then is in a position like unto Lincoln's--IF he would use it. But there's the rub, would he? And that's PJD's question too. Appointing SC justices that would overturn Roe does seem to require reasons. I do think there is reason to think that RG really means it when he says abortion is wrong and would seek to restrict them--unlike the Clintons. What reason is there, by the way, to think that Mitt would know a judicial originalist if one looked him in the face. Rudy is more likely to recognize at least a Federalist Society type. Mitt reminds me more of Nixon, and Nixon's promises on judicial appointments to Strom--but Nixon didn't really have a clue.

Remember Julie, Rudy is looking to take New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A MAJOR part of his sales pitch to the GOP is that he can win a couple of blue states in the general. Were he to tack too far in search of the support of people like Dobson, he might throw away the Electoral College votes of the Garden and the Keystone states.

I think Rudy is banking on the fact that Ohio is gone to the GOP, because of the supreme incompetency of Ohio Republicans. That it's vain and foolish to try to save an Ohio that is already way beyond any Republican. And that means that the GOP has to find Electoral College votes elsewhere.

Rudy intends to make up the loss of Ohio's votes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Dan makes a fair point about the ballet Rudy has to dance. Let's just hope he doesn't don a tutu this time. What I like best about Rudy is that when I agree with him, I can trust him not to embarrass me for it. When I disagree, he doesn't try to pander to me as much as many other pols do. He just puts it out there and I can react accordingly.

Yes, public opinion needs to change, but under your reasoning, Douglas would have been the man to change public opinion, not Lincoln.

There was not a "moral framework" against slavery in the constitution. Any moral framework was in the Declaraton, and I'm pretty sure that abortion would find a framework just as strong there. The Constitution is ammoral, except for what morality you import to it from the Declaration.

Reacting accordingly, it is going to be hard to vote for Guiliani in spite of his "pro-choice" position if he wins the nomination. Yet I think the point of party backing makes quite a bit of difference between a Guiliani position and a Clinton position. Clinton is NEVER going to support any kind of inhibition to abortion, and Guiliani just might, because of the political pressure of the party. This is especially true if pro-life folk vote for him in the general election.

Kate and Julie, Good points. But I still think that G. isn't coming out against ROE out of principle. He won't say straight out what he doesn't think is true. And certainly the outlawing of partial birth abortion and the Hyde amendment can be squared with a reasonable interpretation of ROE.

could the least "pro-life" candidate actually do more to advance the pro-life cause than the other more emphatically pro-life candidates?

How?

Frankly, I think its disgusting to see how eager many Republicans are to prostitute their principles in exchange for what they think will be power.

Giuliani is fools gold in any case.

Rudy calls abortion wrong, not right-

That's been his position ever since he decided to run for President as a Republican. Do you think he means it?

But I still think that G. isn't coming out against ROE out of principle.

He has not come out against Roe at all. The best he'll say is that its up to the courts to decide it, and that he'll accept whatever they say.

If he does the right thing for the wrong reasons, I won't lose too much sleep over that Peter. My real hope is that his ambition will move him more my way than the other way.

You're trying to be too clever here, Clint. That's not quite right. The Constitution's view of slavery was certainly grounded in the Declaration but the so-called "compromises" with slavery were not morally neutral--nor is it accurate to say that the Constitution is "ammoral" except for what you "import" to it. Check out Herbert Storing's famous essay, "Slavery and the Moral Foundations of the Republic" among many other resources. Douglas could not have changed anyone's mind on slavery. His view was the "don't care" view. I think Rudy is more of the Douglas "don't care" school on abortion. I do care, but I also don't think the parallel between abortion and slavery is as smooth as you imagine. We need to do much more work from the ground up.

Refusing to support Rudy over Hillary is only defensible for those who would rather "witness" than win. My answer to them is: You can witness every day of the week by campaigning against abortion. Just don't screw up a presidential campaign with your unwillingness to do anything BUT witness. A Rudy administration allows more breathing room for pro-life politics and policy than does a Hillary administration. In addition, Julie is right: Rudy is genuinely pro-choice, not pro-abortion. One gets the impression that many Democratic leaders are genuinely pro-abortion. This distinction should not be too subtle to grasp. And perhaps it won't be, if enough of us explain it to our brethren.

19: To pick up on your point, Julie, I believe it's also true that Douglas never said he hated slavery. Rudy has repeatedly said, "I hate abortion." While that's easy to dismiss, I'm not sure it should be. Lincoln, I think rightly, made a big deal out of the fact that Douglas -- quite independent of the "Nebraska principle" Lincoln opposed -- never denounced slavery.

I also agree, Julie, that there's no "smooth" parallel between abortion and slavery. There is a partial parallel, but it's as important to understand the limits of the comparison as to understand that it does have some basis.

David and Julie: First Douglas was against slavery-he morally believed a man, everyman, ought to be free, but for political reasons was willing to compromise with choice. It was probably a pragmatic compromise because even Kansan, awfully far south, voted to be free. However, it was a compromise Lincoln was unwilling to make. Now I'm sure the parallels between slavery and abortion are extremely strong, your hero Reagan noted something of the sort I believe.

However, your mere saying that it is not a perfect analogy does not undercut the argument that Rudy has an unconstitutional and un-Declaration[al] view of abortion. If life is greater than liberty, then abortion a greater wrong than slavery, and every bit as oppossed to the principles of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The constitution protected the right to slavery, [or holding persons in service or labor]. Whether or not it was designed to eventually destroy slavery (doubtful in my mind), it did not end slavery. Why? Because it set out no long-lasting moral principle against slavery, and when the practical conditions changed, slavery would have constitutionally continued forever. A fine moral statement if I ever saw one!

But I digress into the obvious analogy again. I forgot, that I was going to explain abortion while trying to set aside the history of our nation while dealing with injustice. Please excuse me.

Anyway, just take a look at Roe if you want to see how far from the Constitution the right to choose an abortion is. When you get lost in penumbras and emanations, maybe you can search the Declaration for a while to find the right to an abortion. Hillary Clinton is genuinly pro-choice, not pro-abortion, but neither her nor Giulian with their live-and-let-live policies will change public opinion. How do you defend the myopic view that a person who believes free choice (apparently to choose abortion even) is a principle will make any improvement in public opinion becoming more pro-life--a belief specifically founded on their being certain acts a human being cannot choose to do.

Refusing to support Rudy over Hillary is only defensible for those who would rather "witness" than win.

That depends on what exactly it is you want to win.

(Setting aside the typical Rudy supporters insistence that we are faced with a choice between those two candidates.)

Rudy has repeatedly said, "I hate abortion."

Repeatedly, starting when? I think you'll find that his hatred of abortion started about the time he decided to run for President.

The question of whether Guiliani's Supreme Court appointees would overturn ROE v WADE is moot. Chief Justice Roberts said in an interview and during his hearings that he would not overturn the precedent. What possible reason could anyone give the Court to overturn it? Judicial Activism? Stupidity by the Justices in 1973? That seems unlikely.

I am not a lawyer, but I think that the more appropriate way to discourage and end abortion is to choke off funding. Granted there may be occasions that we do want to allow it on a voluntary basis (rape, for instance), but though the law now says that abortion is a right, no law says the federal government has to fund it. I believe that for many of the pro-abortinists, this is more a fight for money than principle. If we take this approach, it disarms many of the arguments now made in support of it.

As Julie pointed out, awareness of the life in the womb will also cause more women to reconsider the abortion option, and in turn, a reduction in abortions. It is hard to look at a ultra-sound and not see the child.

Popular sovereignty a la Douglas on slavery was NEVER a legitimate position because slavery was a recognized (though tolerated) evil in the Constitution. Permitting the voting up or down of slavery would have undone that recognized moral framework. Abortion does not have that kind of history in our Constitution.

It should also be noted that states were free to deal with slavery as they saw fit under our constitution...just like abortion pre-Roe. Julie, you are confusing territories for states. The constitution kept the choice of slavery out of territorial governments' hands, but once a state there was no reason that many states could not have chosen slavery. Almost every state had slavery at our founding, and slowly states in the Northeast chose freedom, an obvious state choice that was constitutional. There is no constitutional reason that states that abolished slavery could not have by the same power reinstituted it.

Your "constitutional" argument is confusing territories, which the Lincoln-Douglas, Kansas-Nebraska blow-up was about with State Powers.

What I like best about Rudy is that when I agree with him, I can trust him not to embarrass me for it.

When do you agree with him?

Marc, I too would be surprised if Roberts voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. However, this would be a bad event, from both a pro-life standpoint and a general conservative standpoint. What we want, and what I think Roberts (and Alito and Scalia and Thomas) may well accomplish with just one more vote, is a gradual destruction of Roe. This would occur through a series of constitutionalist decisions that permit a slowly widening array of pro-life legislation. Similarly, Rudy is certainly not the president who will outlaw abortion. But then, no president can. He may well be a president who provides the necessary political space for the pro-life cause to make further progress. People who mouth off on Rudy's acceptability or lack thereof shouldn't be listened to unless then can intelligently address this point -- however they come out on it. "Can't vote for a pro-choicer" or "pro-abort" or "baby-killer" won't cut it in rational discourse.

Quite right. We have had one and a half terms of a pro-life president and what has that bought us on this issue? How far have we turned the debate much less the politics on the abortion issue? The best point made in the public debate has been made by the new and wonderfully clear ultra-sounds, as Marc says.


I'll still have a hard time voting for Guiliani, as I did for Ford.

Which is to say, I did not vote for Ford and regretted it. I will not make the mistake again.

He may well be a president who provides the necessary political space for the pro-life cause to make further progress.

Bill Clinton had the exact same position on abortion. How much political space (whatever that is) did he make for the pro-life cause?

Using this bizarro logic, we should elect Hillary because she will make political space for the small government cause.

You're not following that "bizarro" logic at all. Hillary and Rudy are both pro-choice, but Hillary seems more likely to increase abortion "rights"; Hillary and Rudy are both big-government executives, but Hillary seems more likely to increase the size of government. Sheesh. Maybe you're weak analytical skills are what lead you to your "no Union with baby-killers" stance.

Clint: I know very well that Douglas and Lincoln were debating popular sovereignty in the territories. That's why the argument became so violent in the end. Since a territory was under federal jurisdiction, allowing the citizens of it to "choose" implied a moral neutrality toward slavery in the Federal government. Prior to that, it was all compromises and bargains on the basis of what was practical--deals with the devil, to be sure--but never supposing that the devil was anything other than a necessary (and in most cases pre-existing) evil.

The Constitution recognized the evil of slavery in such measures as the 3/5 clause--which were instituted NOT because the founders supposed that African slaves were only as good as 3/5 of a white man but in order to limit the influence of the slave powers in Congress. The better position would have been to have slaves count for nothing. It also put a limit on the slave trade and referred to slaves as "persons." This is not morally neutral language--even if it did make provisions that were in violation of their natural rights. I think it is clear that they were kicking the can down the road but also making a statement about how they hoped it might come out.

So how could Douglas have been more persuasive about the immorality of slavery when he said he "didn't care" how a territory voted? I agree with you, (I think) that Rudy will not persuade anyone that abortion is wrong. But what I'm saying is that the parallel is not perfect and that we don't need a Lincoln to begin persuading people that abortion is wrong. I think the debate is at a stalemate. I don't think there's been any significant movement in either direction for 20 years or more. People state their ground, agree to disagree, and walk from it. That's because what we think doesn't matter. Everyone understands that it is now in the hands of judges. We have no responsibility for the efficacy of the argument, just loyalty to it. We choose the most emphatic--though not always the most effective--pro-life candidates to choose our judges. We think that's all we can do. There are all kinds of problems with that . . . one big one is that a very pro-life judge may be an otherwise lousy judge. We have seen that knowing the law and being pro-life aren't the same thing.

All I'm saying is that Rudy may (and only may, I have not said he will) be the most likely to force the issue back into the public square. I do not say that he will lead this charge--I say it may be an ironic and even unintended consequence if he is elected.

All I'm saying is that Rudy may (and only may, I have not said he will) be the most likely to force the issue back into the public square. I do not say that he will lead this charge--I say it may be an ironic and even unintended consequence if he is elected.

That's really grasping at straws, isn't it? He may have the inadvertent effect of raising the profile of the abortion issue, even if his goal is the opposite?

Purely as a thought exercise, sure, there is some non-zero possibility that such a thing might happen. But you could make an argument for electing HRC using this kind of thinking.

And it's not as if abortion is low-profile at present.

So: Should a pro-life Republican vote for Giuliani in a primary or caucus? No. In November? Of course. The fact that Giuliani is acceptable doesn't make him preferable.

Not so fast, Peter. I'm not saying this is my view (yet) but if a pro-life voter really believed that the other "preferable" (on the life issue) candidates had no good or reasonable chance of winning and also believed that Giuliani did; I think he would be justified in voting for him in the primary. Primaries aren't just an opportunity for exercising the deepest recesses of your conscience--though there's more room for it there. Primaries are also about figuring out which candidate can best do the job you're asking him to do. Part of the job requirement of a candidate must be to win.

Julie, you refused to address the point that states did have jurisdiction over slavery.

Rudy can't persuade anyone, and even Huckabee probably can't. But I figure that Huckabee is worth a shot because if he fails, then we really only have one choice for the future-a Ceasar.

Because that wasn't my point, Clint. I wasn't saying that abortion could be distinguished from from slavery just because states could vote on it pre-Roe. My point was that the Constitution and laws of the United States government were not neutral on the question of the morality of slavery, as you claimed. But the evidence that the Constitution and laws of the United States were other than neutral about abortion pre-1973 is not as clear to me. When it came to slavery, they compromised with it, but never acknowledged that it was anything other than a necessary evil. I see no evidence of the Constitution or broader laws of the United States addressing the question of abortion in the same way. The specifics of the comparison are just not as neat as one is tempted to believe.

The pre-1973 abortion situation was always one of state politics and legislation with no moral presumption either way in the Constitution. It was legal in some places and illegal in others. In order to get rid of slavery across the country, we had to have the 13th amendment. (Comment 7)

Your reply in 38 is fair enough, but it requires you to drop the argument about abortion was one of "state politics and legislation" because slavery was as well. Recognizing state powers to legislate over either, what you really are arguing is the second part-that there was a moral presumption against slavery in the Constitution but none against abortion.

This strikes me as an odd argument for being less pro-life than one would otherwise expect for these reasons:

1. While familiar with the F. Douglass line about how the 3/5 clause, careful use of words other than slave, and the ending of importation, it is not particularly believable. And even accepting everything Douglass argues, there is nothing moral about any of those provisions. They may (or may not) be used for a moral end. The necessity of the civil war shows they really were at best ineffective.

2. Why do you think that the constitution must speak to everything to make it a national issue? This might be the old-fashioned viewpoint, but certainly it has been long abandoned by everyone in politics. The National government invades numerous areas of life in which the constitution is silent.

3. Again, why does "moral" language in the Constitution against slavery make it more of a clear issue than abortion, merely because there is no language about abortion. There is no language about murder in the constitution either, but I highly doubt you would argue that this mere fact indicates that the founders or our principles thought murder was morally in question. You might say such things were left to the states (as was slavery), but if a state refused to convict murderers there is little doubt that the federal government would quite rightly step in. Countless other principles are not mentioned in the Constitution, but that adds not one smudge to their moral clarity.

The salient point in the quote you pull is "no moral presumption either way in the Constitution." Look--the slavery/abortion comparison does not work for the reasons I stated above. Though states had some regulatory powers over slavery and could decide whether or not to be slave states, you know there was much more to it. It just is not right to say that slavery in the Founding of the Republic and on into the Civil War was equally merely a state and local issue as was abortion pre-1973--there were all kinds of national laws about slavery (e.g., Fugitive Slave Law, Missouri Compromise, the ongoing fight over what to do about the territories, etc.) and the object of those who did not like slavery (as the Founders did not) was always to make sure that nothing in them ever suggested that the posture of the United States Government was one of complicity with the goodness or justice of slavery. Until Dred Scott and the threat of Stephen Douglas, nothing had. Lincoln's arguments and statesmanship put an end to that. But there is also this: slavery's history is so bound up with the Founding and the history of the Republic that clear understanding of it and its meaning is cheapened and made less clear if every moral question can be said to be "just like slavery." The abortion question is not just like slavery. Probably nothing is or ever will be "just like slavery." There are parallels and we can learn from the slavery debates--and if you want to outlaw it nation-wide, you'll need an amendment (as with slavery)--but this is very different than saying the arguments are mirror images.

Call me old-fashioned, but "yes"--the Constitution must speak to something to make it a national issue. That is to say, the Constitution must delegate some power to the federal government somewhere to legislate or regulate about a thing before it may presume to do so. Abortion (to the extent it was ever considered in those days), was like murder or other questions of public morality; a matter for state or local regulation. I believe the presumption was that--like murder--it would pretty much be illegal everywhere. The special circumstances and cases (as in murder cases--first, second degree, etc.) that require legislation or judgment really should not be the province of Congress or the Supreme Court under the Constitution as it exists now. You may want to amend it. I am not sure I would support that.

What we really disagree about, it seems, is whether the Founders were morally neutral about slavery. I maintain that they were not. You seem to maintain that their objections to it were not believable because we had to have a Civil War. About that I would say that they probably knew a war--or, barring that, something almost as disagreeable--would come. But they didn't want it to come then. I think they were right to avoid it and I think Frederick Douglass was right to be glad that they avoided it too.

While it is true that I'll give blind founder followers few passes on slavery, the real issue is whether or not the constitution must speak to something to make it 1) immoral and 2) against our principles in such a way that it should be banned. You seem to have the view that since the constitution does not mention it, that it should just be left to the states. How do you even claim to be part of today's practical politics with a few like this?

The critical point is that slavery was wrong--not because of the Declaration or the Constitution but because it is morally wrong. Abortion is the same, and therefore, we should stop it. The Constitution, the Declaration, the statutes we have, all of them are merely a means to an end. They all need to be interpreted in light of the end, and when they are not they can be used in support of shocking immorality. A good rhetorician could spin even the idealogical Declaration into something to support any immoral action (see today's secularists). If you refuse to ground our documents, in fact our whole nation, in the right as God gives us the ability to see the right, America will fail.

So you would agree with the radical Republican Charles Sumner who said, "Anything for human rights is constitutional." I don't. I believe that it is also a supreme point of morality to follow the rule of law. If you don't, you open the door to tyranny and any number of moral outrages. The ends cannot always justify the means--even if the ends are REALLY important. I want to stop abortion too. But I want to do it in a way that is both effective and preserves the integrity of our country.

Sure, you've referenced him before as your typical example of a crazy person who seeks justice. "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice...moderation in the pusuit of justice is no virtue," might be another way to put it. And yes I agree with that quote.

So you would agree with the prudent pharisees who upheld the form of the law above all else. After all justice could only exist within the letter of the law, right? What would you do if you lived in a nation, Julie that did not have as high of principles as America? Would you follow the laws of China? Pakistan? Saudi Arabia? They are all the rules of men, beneath the rules of God.

If you ever hope to be effective in the world of politics, you need to face the fact that the Founders were wrong to keep slavery. NEWS FLASH:::THE FOUNDING WAS NOT PERFECT. It takes leadership and morality to set public opinion. I don't want public opinion to set societies' morals. Until you fight a little harder for the right as God gives us the ability to see the right, I'll continue to consider you one of those good people more or less content to do nothing but compromise with evil.

P.S. I am wondering if your general viewpoints on Giuliani/abortion/compromise go back to your thesis on Lincoln. If so perhaps we need to look there to find the root of the disagreement.

The founders may have been "wrong," as you put it, to compromise with slavery. I freely concede that Jefferson (as one example) was wrong not to free his own slaves when the opportunity came to him. The founding was not "perfect," as you say. But consider the consequences of holding "perfection" as your standard. We do not (thank God) live in China, or Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia or even Canada. And so--while our rule of law is still beneath the rule of God--it is as damn close to perfect as I ever hope to see in this life. One of the reasons it is so is because men like the founders were able to see past perfection and not make it the enemy of the good. More important, the set up as the standard maxim of free government the principles of the (as I see it, flawless) Declaration of Independence. It is there so that we may (in Lincoln's words) come to know it as the beacon "which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere."

Political perfection should be articulated and defended in the abstract--but it is a sign of political immaturity to expect that you can actually achieve every aspect of it here. In the end, such blind pursuits always lead to bad judgment and (very often) to tyranny.

Julie if you disagree with Charles Sumner do you agree with Preston Brooks? Actually Charles Sumner sounds like a really interesting guy...

JL: Obviously I don't agree with Brooks. And Sumner was an extraordinary and intensely interesting guy. But there may be a reason why Sumner got caned and Lincoln, instead, got shot. Sumner cited people to anger and rage in the heat of debate. Lincoln's coolness of purpose reliance on firm logic led his enemies to have to plot against him. They were thinking too hard in the midst of debate. In the end, who did more to effect actual and complete change? The man who asked people completely to change their principles or the man who, instead, merely asked them to live up to those principles? Sumner was an annoyance to people like Brooks but his rhetoric wasn't going to persuade anyone not already disposed to agree with him. Lincoln, on the other hand, was able to unite disparate and even discordant elements together for one noble purpose. Instead of constantly reminding them of their limitations and imperfections and sin, he understood what together made them all better than they would otherwise have been. In so appreciating them, he even inspired them to higher aims.

And Lincoln knew that no good deed of his would go unpunished. He had to know that he put his life in danger. But he took that course anyway . . . not because the passion of his argument drew him to incite the rage of his enemies as sport, but because the rightness of his argument could not honestly be disputed. The Sumners of this world are probably necessary soldiers in any fight. But they should not be the generals.

"We do not have the right to move God’s standard to meet the cultural norm but we need to move the cultural norm to meet God’s standards."

-Mike Huckabee, Future President because he actually understands and will do what is right rather than compromise in the name of prewdense.

I don't object to Huckabee's quote but the fact that you wrote what you did after it, is telling. I think you are going to be a bitterly disappointed young man in a few months.

I trust you don't think Lincoln was trying to "move God's standards" though he was prudent--look at some of his speeches where he seems to defend anti-miscegenation laws (but doesn't). Knowing your audience and speaking to them so as to inspire what is best in them is not the same thing as "moving God's standards." It is, in fact, moving public opinion to God's standards. Though it may be much slower than Clint would like it to be. I also don't see how you think it is respecting "God's standards" to choose someone to argue poorly and ineffectively on behalf of them. At times, I'd rather have someone who disagreed with me on things like abortion as President than have someone who agrees with me but is such a piss-poor advocate for my position that he makes it look stupid.

Giuliani isn't going to argue at all for the pro-life cause, and he will not even attempt to move the country towards "God's standards" or even any standard except secularist "freedom." Free choice for all on everything!

I hope you are not calling Huckabee a poor advocate. Last I heard he makes an extremely compelling argument for "faith, family, freedom."-More compelling than any other GOP candidate. I suppose that you don't think he will win and expect my disappointment. I was on this blog talking about Huckabee when he was a complete unknown at 1%, so my candidate has been making strides ahead for months while all the others are stagnant and falling. "No one" thought the W could beat Ann Richards either. Politics is about momentum, the people, and the real secret is the zeitgeist and how it flows throught the people. You need to know what will inspire people to be able to know politics. Giuliani doesn't cut it. Despite no money, no nothing, Huckabee has an even shot at pulling it off.

On another disappointment note, I won't really be shocked or distraught if Hillary is the next President. God can work through anyone at anytime, and He will. You might think this destroys the argument of even selecting a candidate on any basis, but because God's will rules, woe to those that it must correct. As Lincoln said we might have to pay every drop drawn with the lash, America has many sins (not just abortion) to pay for. The punishment must come if we elect Hillary or Giuliani, but I'll stave off disappointment.

Giuliani isn't going to argue at all for the pro-life cause . . .God can work through anyone at anytime, and He will.

Yep. That's what I think. But I think He will get more done with G. than with H.--unless, as you suggest, his purpose is retribution for our sins. G's not arguing on behalf of the pro-life cause leaves the void open for better advocates. And he can't simply ignore those advocates because they are in his own party and he's going to need them. Within the party, G. is the odd man out. In the nation as a whole, he has broad appeal. You should be talking about Romney if you're really this committed to getting a pro-life candidate. But I think Romney suffers from the thing I described above--not being a particularly strong advocate for a cause I believe in. We can talk about Huck in 4, maybe 8 years. He did well for himself showing some traction without much funding, etc. But he's got other issues. His social appeal is apparent, but his other Republican credentials are weak. For now . . . vice presidential timber (as Lawler said) about sums him up. He can add to a ticket but I don't think he can lead it. And while I don't think Huck is a bad advocate for the life issue (he's not embarrassing, let us say), I do think he speaks mainly to the choir. I want to see someone who can persuade new voters--esp. young voters. I need to see someone who can make a fresh argument and explain not only why the life issue is consistent with the laws of God and the principles of morality, but also why it is in the interest of those young people to support it. Young people have to be shown why it is in their interest to be good. I don't think Huck's the guy to do that.

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