Eric Johnston, a Catholic University graduate student, has an op-ed in the New York Times today that claims that that the pro-life cause might benefit more from a pro-choice President Rudy than from a pro-life president.
Unlike Mr. Huckabee or Sam Brownback, who are deeply religious and reliably pro-life, Mr. Giuliani has said he attends Catholic Mass only “occasionally” and he ducks questions about his personal faith. Mr. Giuliani’s lack of religious devotion gives him the potential to upend the nation’s moribund abortion debate.
Johnston claims that Rudy is on the pro-life side for “democratic, but not devout motives.” As such, Johnston believes he might be able to bridge the gap in the abortion debate where religious conservatives have failed. Assuming that Rudy follows through on his promise to nominate judges in the mold of Alito and Roberts, Johnston may well be right: A President Rudy might oversee, indeed contribute to, the overturning of Roe. Obviously that’s a good thing. But what then? Should Roe be overturned it will undoubtedly save thousands, if not ultimately millions, of lives–but it would only do so in certain states, say South Carolina, that vote to outlaw the murderous practice. Real change, a change that would stop abortions in California, New York, and Massachusetts, will only come when America has a pervasive culture of life. And that’s not something that can be brought about by any judge or half-right politician. Instead, it will come from a persuasion offensive–one, I think, which needs the leadership of the president. Rudy, despite his many admirable qualities, is not the man for that task. I think he’d probably tell you that himself.
Johnston’s column also includes some strange comments and loose reasoning. Try this one on for size:
Mr. Giuliani’s personal beliefs about abortion might resemble John Kerry’s, but the policies he calls for look more like President Bush’s. To cite just one example, Mr. Kerry pledged to restore Medicaid financing of abortions, but Mr. Giuliani pledges his support for the Hyde Amendment, which bans such financing. Pro-lifers care about many important policy questions related to abortion, and Mr. Giuliani consistently stands with us.
Consistently stands with us? I think that’d be news to the Giuliani campaign.
Finally, Johnston addresses the issue of whether a President Rudy would support federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. Don’t worry he says, Rudy once took a stand against a portrait of the Virgin Mary splattered with elephant dung…ergo he’s on our side because he believes “if you’re going to use taxpayers’ dollars, you have to be sensitive to the feelings of the public.” Memo to Johnston: Rudy supported tax-payer funded abortions as mayor of NYC. I wouldn’t exactly call that being “sensitive” to the feelings of the public, would you?
Look, I don’t mean to attack Johnston or even Rudy with all of this, but I do think pro-lifers need to be careful not to convince themselves that Rudy is someone he is not. The truth is that if he really “hated” abortion then he would oppose it. But he doesn’t. So if you want to cast a vote for Rudy, do so because you think he’ll be great on the war or on taxes or crime (he would be great on all three, for the record). But for goodness sake, don’t go convincing yourself that he’s going to win the abortion debate because he doesn’t actually believe in the cause.