Michael Gerson argues--following Paul G. Kengor’s new book, God and Hillary Clinton--that HRC is sincere about her religion and very sincere about her support for the right to an abortion. Here’s MG’s prediction regarding 2008:
How are religious voters likely to respond to a religious believer who is also a social liberal? Roman Catholics, with their strong commitment to the poor, should be open to a Democratic message of economic justice. A majority of Christians, Catholic and Protestant, support the goals of broader health coverage and increased humanitarian aid abroad. But the most intensely religious Americans of both traditions also tend to be the most conservative on moral issues such as abortion. And it is hard to imagine that these voters will be successfully courted by the most comprehensively pro-choice presidential candidate in American history.
That might change under one circumstance: if Rudy Giuliani were the Republican nominee. Whatever Giuliani promised concerning the appointment of conservative judges, a pro-choice Republican nominee would blur the contrast between the parties on abortion. And between two pro-choice options, a larger number of religious voters might support the one with a stronger emphasis on poverty -- because, after all, Jesus did have a lot to say about how we treat the poor.
I’ll repeat what I’ve said many times before: there’s also an argument about how best to help the least among us, one that Republicans had better engage if they want to remain competitive in national elections, for the reasons Gerson offers.
Update: Yuval Levin makes a quick political point in agreement with Gerson. Patrick D. goes on at greater length about the problematical character of what he hopes will be "the corpse of the Frankenstein-like Christian-libertarian Republican coalition." He’s less confident than Gerson that a Giuliani-Clinton race will cause loads of bleeding from R to D; but he does think that those who are discontented with modernity might be persuaded to support a new William Jennings Bryan, thus handing the victory to HRC. I’ll suspend judgment until he comes up with a plausible WJB.