There’s a lot to like about Rudy Giuliani on other grounds. And this isn’t 1860, when there was just one issue in the election. Still, I’m reminded of what Harry Jaffa says (in his great book on Lincoln, A New Birth of Freedom) of a moment in the late 1850s when some in the Republican Party dallied with the idea of making the Illinois Democrat Stephen A. Douglas its standard-bearer. Douglas was to slavery then what Giuliani is to abortion now—the “don’t care” man, who declared that it mattered not to him which way people voted on slavery in the territories, just as Rudy shrugs at either outcome the next time Roe is tested in the Supreme Court. As Jaffa puts it in describing this crisis moment for the Republicans and the country then:
The Declaration of Independence as the “sheet anchor of American republicanism” would have been abandoned, to be replaced by popular sovereignty. There would have been no Gettysburg Address to memorialize the Founding in the minds of American citizens. Lincoln’s argument that the principles of the Declaration contained a promise to all men everywhere would have perished from the earth. What would have made the Union worth saving in such a case is hard to imagine.
At this moment it was essential for Lincoln, the party, and the country that he make Douglas unacceptable to the Republicans. For the future of the right to life, it may be equally essential that Giuliani be made unacceptable to today’s Republican Party. Eric Johnston, I’m afraid, has his political calculus exactly backwards.