Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Richard Land, post Values Voters summit

Southern Baptist heavyweight Richard Land continues to talk tough about Guiliani, even after a speech that contains the following passages:

First, I will veto any reduction in the impact of the Hyde Amendment or other existing limits on abortions or the public funding of abortions. (Applause.) I will support
-- I will support any reasonable suggestion that promises to reduce the number of
abortions. I support parental notification and will continue to, and I supported and
continue to support the ban on partial-birth abortion.


In many ways
-- in many ways, our liberty as Americans is protected by the separation of powers
between and among the three branches of government. In order for that to work as it was intended by our Founding Fathers, each one of the branches must respect the limitations that are placed on it by the Constitution. So it is critical that judges be conscientious in their role of interpreting the law, not creating the law.


And each opportunity I have, I
guarantee you I will appoint men and women who understand and act upon the principle
that I just said to you -- that it is their role to determine what other people meant when they wrote the words of our Constitution or the laws, not what they would like it to mean.


And if you need a yardstick, well what kind of judges would he appoint, then I can tell you I would appoint Supreme Court justices in the mold of Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, or Chief Justice Roberts. They might not agree on every interpretation, but over the course of hundreds of opinions, you will see a
consistency of interpretation that evidences their determination to figure out what the Constitution means.

This comes pretty close to what Land says he wants Giuliani to say:

He would [have to] say, number one, "This is a pro-life party. I realize I am out of step with where the party is, and I am not going to try to in any way weaken the [pro-life] plank." He could say, "I will only appoint strict constructionists, original-intent jurists to the federal judiciary." Strict constructionists by definition think that Roe v. Wade was an overreach and is a badly decided decision. If he were to agree to appoint a pro-life attorney general in the mode of a John Ashcroft …


And if he also said, "I will not veto any legislation that comes across my desk that restricts abortion. And if he were then to further say, "I will veto any legislation that comes to my desk that expands abortion rights …" If he did that he would mitigate the damage.

But Land remains obdurate: the summit speech did nothing in his view to mitigate his position among conservative Christians. Still, he’ll concede RG this much:

In the recent debate I think he helped himself a lot—[particularly] when he made the statement that if some sort of critical mass of four, five or six states [allow] same-sex marriage, he would support a constitutional amendment [to ban it]. He said that had always been his position. It may have been, but he certainly kept it a well-guarded secret. That will help him among social conservatives.

Call me squishy, but I’d be celebrating Giuliani’s gestures and looking for common ground wherever possible, at least to the point of being able to keep a door open for reconciliation. Stated another way: I’d rather be able to declare victory if Giuliani met me at 75% of the way, rather than have to concede defeat if he didn’t come all the way over to my side. Here’s RG invoking the shade of Reagan:

Ronald Reagan had a great way of summarizing it. He used to say, “My 80 percent friend is not my 100 percent enemy.”

That’s politics. If Land doesn’t want to play politics, he shouldn’t be giving interviews to Newsweek.

Discussions - 10 Comments

I’d rather be able to declare victory if Giuliani met me at 75% of the way,

And what if Giuliani met you at 5% of the way, which is what he is doing?

Here’s RG invoking the shade of Reagan:

Reagan must be spinning in his grave at being invoked by a liberal like Giuliani.

Joe: (And please note the distinction) For the PRIMARY round, you're squishy. Land's stubbornness (and mine) is born of two things: principle and.....a tactical hope to influence the outcome of the primaries. Tactics will change...if Rudy is the nominee.
BTW, do you actually *BELIEVE* Rudy when he makes those promises? If you look at his record and his history (and not his latest speech to a group he knows he must court), then Rudy's not even close to being your "80% friend."

" That’s politics. If Land doesn’t want to play politics, he shouldn’t be giving interviews to Newsweek. "

Please Mr. Knippenberg. What is compromise without principles? I know you are trying very hard to keep social conservatives on board with the GOP (something I don't think you will be successful with by the way - we have already had too many years of GOP tough rhetoric and squeamish governance), but let's keep is above board here.

Some things are open to compromise, some things are open to a "pragmatic" implementation given political realities. We understand that. We also understand character, and to put it in a secular context "past performance is the best predictor of future performance". Rudy just is too much of a stretch. You have to morph him into something he is not. It's simple deceit to say Rudy is going to, even reluctantly, carry the most important issues of social conservatives. Shoot, even the most important issues of traditional conservatives. The sooner the GOP realizes that, the sooner they can either move on and find a viable candidate, or concede defeat in 2008...

Gary you stole my thunder. I was going to ask why anyone would believe Giuliani if he did say what Land wants him to say. Look at his judicial appointments as Mayor of NYC. They were almost all libs.

Even if the socon leadership knows that they will not actively oppose Rudy in the general if he is the nominee, what would be the benefit of preemptively playing nice? Then you loose all bargaining power.

I'm not anointing RG an honorary social conservative, but I'm all for leaving the lines of communication open, should he prove to be the nominee. And I'd be welcoming gestures like his pledge not to accept any rollback of the Hyde Amendment.

I am, by the way. least concerned about his judicial nominations (which is not the same as saying I'm totally unconcerned).

From G. we still need a clear statement that ROE was wrongly decided (and why). I agree with Gary that for "social conservatives" prudence in the primaries is pretty much limited to the choice between Romney and Huckabee. In the event Rudy is nominated, he is surely better than Hillary and would deserve support.

The whole idea that if Rudy is nominated that we should support him because he's better than Hillary is the wrong attitude. All we are doing is saying we should move to a higher point on the deck of a sinking ship. The higher point is better than the lower one since we wont go under as soon, but we're still sinking! Better to let Hillary win and vote for a real conservative, in a third party if nessisary, than compromise on what makes us conservative. If we endorse positions that destroy what conservatism is all about through a candidate that has an extremely liberal record, why even bother saying we are conservative?

Needless to say, I agree with Brutus. A conservative movement that tanked Rudy and had Hillary as a foil would be much stronger and more effective than a conservative movement that went along with Rudy. They would lose the ability to complain and would feel the need to defend Rudy from his Democratic critics. Much as they were silenced when Bush was passing prescription drug coverage and No Child Left Behind.

I have not been particularly active in GOP politics for a while, but I have become somewhat active recently so I can more effectively promote Paul. Going to the convention, local get togethers, etc. My impression of the Rudy supporters is that they are the people who have always opposed the social conservatives. Many seem motivated in their support of Rudy by an express desire to defeat and decrease the influence of the socons. (Who do you think the Georgia Log Cabin leadership is supporting?) I have a couple of contacts in Georgia GOP circles and their impression is the same. Why on earth would you give those clowns the pleasure of seeing sheepish socons vote for a pro-abort? Better to send the unmistakable signal, "If he is the nominee, we are gone." How is that not a more powerful political strategy than preemptively conceding you will vote for the guy?

"prudence in the primaries is pretty much limited to the choice between Romney and Huckabee."

Why not Thompson from a "prudent" standpoint? But that whole line of thinking is self fulfilling. I don't think anyone interested in "prudence" would back Paul, but why didn't prudent people early on recognize the problems with Romney and Rudy and get behind Hunter for example? Then maybe he would be in the conversation today. We are letting the MSM be the first primary.

Kudos to Joe for the post.

You note something very important. The problem with Land and the Arlington group is that they have pretty much cut off communication with Rudy. Let's say Rudy wins the whole enchilada, what then? They will not be as influential as they otherwise would have been had they not declared war on Rudy. I think Perkins and Bauer have already realized this and have backed off their original claim to support a 3rd party.

Part of their realization could be their followers are not as strong followers as they used to be. As it sits right now, many Evangelicals are not taking the advice of Dobson.

What I found striking about this is that I'd always regarded Richard Land as one of the least "heavy-handed" of the conservative evangelical "heavies." I would think that he'd be encouraging RG's "evolution" as he seems to be receptive to Romney's "evolution."

And I can't imagine he's really interested in a second Clinton Administration, which I don't think will be as happily galvanizing an event for the nation as some conservatives seem to suppose.

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