Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Audacity Of Nope

I have a policy to not delve into politics here except when it is unavoidable due to the moral dimension that some political issue brings to the table. In cases like that, I can't help myself. One of those cases is Barack Obama's stance on abortion. A quick summary of my view:

When it comes to the abortion issue, Barack Obama is a moral coward.

That ought to be succinct enough. I don't say things like that lightly so let me explain why I'm saying it now. I'll start with Obama's response to Rick Warren at his recent appearance at Saddleback Church in southern California. Here's the exchange:
WARREN: ... Now, let’s deal with abortion; 40 million abortions since Roe v. Wade. As a pastor, I have to deal with this all of the time, all of the pain and all of the conflicts. I know this is a very complex issue. Forty million abortions, at what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.
What pay grade is he talking about? His current, and lifetime appointed, pay grade as a human being or his potential pay grade as President of the United States of America? I can do no better than my friend Jay at addressing the "pay grade" issue (here) so I won't. But this is nothing but a spineless diversion from the actual topic in question. Obama knows that if a fetus is a person (i.e. life begins at conception) he cannot defend his pro-abortion view. So instead of confronting that moral question, he punts. Let me just say that his answer to that question was all I needed to come to my "moral coward" assessment. But there is more that I have learned since that has only strengthened my confidence in that assessment.
OBAMA: But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion, because this is something obviously the country wrestles with. One thing that I’m absolutely convinced of is that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue. And so I think anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue, I think, is not paying attention. So that would be point number one.
He says this in the breath after he just blatantly avoided the "moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue." But make no mistake -- he is paying attention. We know that from the continuation of his response ...
But point number two, I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade, and I come to that conclusion not because I’m pro-abortion, but because, ultimately, I don’t think women make these decisions casually. I think they — they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with their pastors or their spouses or their doctors or their family members. And so, for me, the goal right now should be — and this is where I think we can find common ground. And by the way, I’ve now inserted this into the Democratic party platform, is how do we reduce the number of abortions? The fact is that although we have had a president who is opposed to abortion over the last eight years, abortions have not gone down and that is something we have to address.

WARREN: Have you ever voted to limit or reduce abortions?

OBAMA: I am in favor, for example, of limits on late-term abortions, if there is an exception for the mother’s health.
Obama has made a conscious decision to be "pro-choice." That decision, regardless of what he, or any other abortion proponent, says, is not morally neutral. It has consequences -- disastrous consequences if you happen to be a fetus -- that flow from it. Fifty million at last count.

Here I fault Rick Warren for not asking the simple question, "Why?"

Why should we seek to reduce the number of abortions in this country? If the fetus is not a human person, killing it requires no justification and the motivation to reduce the number of abortions disappears. Warren should be ashamed that he didn't ask that question. The very fact that Obama claims to want to reduce the number of abortions is a tacit admission that he really knows this but looks the other way while it goes on. He is therefore a moral coward.

His answer in the exchange also tells us that he most certainly is paying attention because he deliberately avoided answering the direct question posed to him in the last line. That is obvious, but the history behind his dodge not only confirms that he is paying attention, it also cements my assessment of Obama as a moral coward when it comes to the abortion issue. Here's why ...

The latest issue of National Review (September 1, 2008) uncovers Obama's record as an Illinois State Senator regarding this issue and here it is: On 7 separate occasions Obama voted "present" when confronted with abortion related votes.
That's what Obama did on two separate attempts to ban partial-birth abortion, two parental notification abortion bills, and three bills meant to protect a child if it survived a failed abortion.
Please note that, when asked the question above, he never answered. He never does. In Illinois he never even answered the call to vote at all. When asked, through the mechanism of a vote, to state his position, he just replied, "Nope." Not "yes" or "no" on the issue itself -- he voted "nope" on voting on the issue.

While I would challenge a "no" vote as being indefensible, at least the "no" voter would have demonstrated some conviction about the matter. This guy doesn't have the guts to vote "no." He just doesn't vote. As I have heard Greg Koukl say, Obama doesn't want a choice, he wants a corpse.

Obama's explanation for his demonstration of moral cowardice is that the "Born Alive Infant Protection Act," which required medical care to be given to live infants who survived abortions, "did not include a provision stating the bill was not meant to influence the legal standing of a fetus before birth." But this is a blatant lie. The bill contained just such a provision. The result is that Barack Obama said "nope" about taking a stand on whether or not a baby who survives an abortion can be killed anyway.

That's not all! Obama has yet another explanation that covers all the "nope" votes. He did it because ...
Groups like Planned Parenthood wanted to get as many legislators as possible voting "present" The idea was [as reported in the Chicago Tribune] ... to make the votes "look less like a hedge or a cop-out and more like a constitutional concern or other high-minded qualm."
So it was a PR trick -- a deliberate obfuscation meant to make Obama (and others like him) look high-minded while they simultaneously opted out of taking a stand on killing babies that survived botched abortion attempts.

Now that's audacious. You have to give him that. Too bad the substitution of audacity for moral courage entails a category error that no amount of hope could ever change. Yes, Barack Obama is a moral coward. He proves it repeatedly with his own words -- words that invoke a thousand pictures of babies who will never live to see the light of day.

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