Sunday, October 9


If you're a Republican and a Pro-Lifer and Roe v. Wade is anathema to you (as it is to me), this op-ed piece by Francis Wilkinson, published in today's "Houston Chronicle" (registration required for online edition), won't give you much cause for cheer. Indeed, and in the context of President Bush's disappointing nomination of cipher Harriet Miers, it may give you a good case of heartburn or make your coffee taste unpalatably bitter.

Wilkinson writes (excerpts follow):

There are various theories to explain these instances of Sudden Pro-Choice Syndrome but no clear explanation. It's the darnedest thing, but when it comes to the most sacred cause in the Republican canon, the right to life, Republican presidents somehow find a way to mess up. You'd almost think they were doing it on purpose.

Of course, it's possible that Republican presidents are just really, really bad at picking judges who share their beliefs. But try to imagine a reverse situation in which President Bill Clinton opens up the newspaper to discover that one of his two appointments to the court has voted to overturn the constitutional right to privacy and abortion. There's a reason this is hard to imagine: it borders on the preposterous.

Roe v. Wade is not a fine point of law that busy presidents and their staffs overlook. It is the most visceral, emotional and politically contentious issue the court has decided in the past three decades.

If you were president of the United States and truly believed abortion to be a modified form of murder, I suspect you would not only nominate someone who seemed to share your view on this paramount issue, but you'd also make damned sure there was no margin for error.

Yet as more than a few abortion opponents have come to suspect, in the Oval Office the "culture of life" is from time to time trumped by the culture of electability.

With abortion rights safeguarded by Roe, and Roe, in turn, safeguarded by the court, a candidate's public opposition to abortion is treated by much of the nation's pro-choice majority as a more or less immaterial wish that's unlikely to be fulfilled.

Ms. Wilkinson continues, and with arched pessimism:

But imagine what would happen if a Republican president actually honored the promise, explicit or implied, to engineer a court majority to overturn Roe. Republican opposition to abortion rights would no longer be theoretical. And moderate voters, who have learned to discount anti-abortion hypocrisy, would surely exact a high electoral price for the Republicans' new sincerity.

Unless President Bush is cut from truer anti-abortion timber than his two Republican predecessors, my guess is we'll discover down the road that he, too, has appointed at least one pro-Roe justice to the court and that the status quo endures.

In her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the president's latest Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers, will surely dodge, duck, weave and stonewall to avoid revealing her thoughts on Roe. Democrats and pro-choice advocates will suspect she is eager to avoid raising alarms in pro-choice environs. Maybe they'll be right.

But no group will have more cause for suspicion than the anti-abortion stalwarts who make up the backbone of the Republican Party. They've suffered multiple betrayals at the highest level. But they keep putting their faith in Republican presidents just the same.

"Multiple betrayals." If Chief Justice John Roberts doesn't continue the tradition, one suspects Harriet Miers most assuredly will. And that's precisely why many within the "Rebel Alliance" were indeed scrapping for a fight in the U.S. Senate, because a Bush nominee with incontestable pro-life credentials would most assuredly have been a shot across the bow of the Left-tacking, Democratic Party-steered Senate galleon and fire would have been returned, and a battle worthy of answering the 48+ million unborns aborted since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision would have ensued. Instead the "Gang of 14" and seven Senate Republicans led by John McCain (RINO-AZ), in particular, scuttled the likelihood that the president would stand tall, engage the enemy, and demonstrate steely political courage in fighting for the sanctity of life and the protection of the innocents.

And, astonishingly, this Robert Novak column (H/T "Patterico") dismayingly suggests that President Bush had no intentions of storming the ramparts, but rather only of beating a retreat from his campaign promises.