I realize that many of my good friends, Roman Catholic, Anglican, evangelical, and others will not understand why I have chosen to try to find common ground with our President-Elect Barack Obama given his views on Roe v. Wade. Let me say very clearly that I disagree with Obamaâ€™s support of Roe v. Wade and his pro-choice position; however, I find disturbing the way in which Obamaâ€™s views on abortion have been misrepresented by well-meaning Christians. For example, the complexities of Obamaâ€™s reasoning for choosing to sign or not to sign Born Alive legislation have been flattened and presented in a way that paints his position in the worst possible light. If you examine Obamaâ€™s vote on this legislation, what you find is that the Illinois and Federal â€œBorn Aliveâ€ legislation had different clauses added and that the two bills were not the same legislation, which is why e.g., NARAL did not oppose the federal legislation.
For Pro-Lifers, A New Day
By John Jay Hughes
Tuesday, November 11, 2008, 7:36 AM
The worst aspect of an Obama presidency, I have been telling friends for months, will be his Supreme Court appointments. They will set the so-called constitutional right to an abortion in concrete for years to come. While this remains true, Sen. Obamaâ€™s victory challenges pro-lifers in two ways.
We need first to recognize that politics is the art of the possible and that political battles can never be won by attacking our friends. During the annual march on Washington each January, some pro-lifers have had nothing better to do than to stage confrontations with pro-life members of Congress whose support they consider insufficiently militant. I received such an attack myself, during a previous presidential campaign, when a listener found the decibel count of a strong pro-life homily I preached too low. This is madness.
Second, we need to recognize that, for some years to come, abortion will be with us; we must support the kind of limitations on the practice which are in force in most other countries. To oppose such limitations on the grounds that they do not banish all abortions is also madness.
Beyond replacing political naivete with political savvy, the task before pro-life people now is to concentrate on the only task that will bring success in the fight for life: changing hearts and minds.
â€œFor too long weâ€™ve been asking politicians to do for us what we need to do ourselves,â€ a militantly pro-life Catholic bishop told me on election day. He was right. Of course our laws should protect the weak and defenseless. And who is more vulnerable and defenseless than the baby in the wombâ€”or Grandma in a nursing home whose mind has gone ahead of her and whose care is costly? We need to realize, however, that laws that do not enjoy wide popular support are useless, or worse.
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A post-mortem of the McCain campaign.Â Isn’t it interesting how the conventional wisdom of the strategists doesn’t look like wisdom after the fact.Â Conventional wisdom said McCain shouldn’t have won the nomination, but he did.Â Unfortunately he didn’t maintain the same sort of independence in the general election.Â It can’t al be blamed on McCain, of course, and the folks have a point when they talk about the fact that McCain got absolutely no media coverage until he started playing to the base and running negative ads against Obama–and without the same sort of fund-raising mechanism as Obama, he certainly couldn’t have bought it.
WASHINGTON — Heading into the 2008 presidential race, many Republicans thought Sen. John McCain‘s image as a deal-making maverick made him the one Republican who might win in an anti-GOP year. His defeat now has observers wondering what might have been had he stuck to his persona.
Instead, the Arizona senator ran a more traditional campaign, appealing to conservative voters who make up the base of his party. His advisers offer a variety of reasons for why he chose this tact, but the decision confounds those who missed the “old McCain.”
Sen. McCain “was a candidate that could have transcended the Republican brand. But the campaign often seemed aimed squarely at the Republican base,” said Todd Harris, a Republican consultant who worked on his 2000 campaign.
Some advisers said the senator couldn’t emphasize the areas where he split from other Republicans because those issues — stem cell research, campaign-finance reform and the use of torture in military interrogations, for instance — were not front-burner this election.
“There was only one issue — the economy,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. McCain’s close adviser. He noted that in the areas where Sen. McCain had staked out his independence, he and his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, agreed.
Bill McInturff, Sen. McCain’s chief pollster, said it was tough for the candidate to appeal to moderate voters after he urged more troops be sent to Iraq.
“I don’t think we ever had a chance to establish John as the interesting, go-against-the-grain candidate,” he said. His position on Iraq “created a boundary for lots of swing voters.”
The result was a McCain campaign that championed tax cuts Sen. McCain had once voted against.
Soon after winning the GOP nomination in the spring, Sen. McCain attempted to reach out to moderates. He talked about service to America. He spent a week visiting what the campaign called “places that Republicans don’t usually go,” such as Appalachia. Sen. McCain also gave a speech calling for the U.S. to work more closely with allies in world affairs, an implicit break with the Bush administration.
But these actions received scant attention, partly because, by then, the Democratic primary was commanding attention. At the same time, the Republican Party base remained lukewarm about Sen. McCain.
By the time Sen. Obama wrapped up the Democratic nomination, the McCain campaign was foundering. With Sen. McCain’s approval, senior strategist Steve Schmidt took control, and focused the candidate’s message. The campaign eliminated Sen. McCain’s once free-wheeling sessions with the press and focused on issues that appealed to core Republicans. Sen. McCain reversed his previous opposition to offshore drilling. He painted Sen. Obama as a celebrity who wasn’t ready to lead. And he emphasized his opposition to abortion.
The result: He rose in the polls.
“He delights in being an unconventional politician but he wanted to win,” said Dan Schnur, a former McCain aide now at the University of Southern California.
The most-important decision would be his choice of running mate. Sen. McCain considered his friend Joe Lieberman, an independent senator and former Democrat. But Sen. concluded that choosing a supporter of abortion rights would lead social conservatives to revolt at the upcoming Republican convention.
His choice, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, thrilled the party’s base. But she proved a liability in Sen. McCain’s pursuit of independent voters, many of whom considered Gov. Palin too conservative and unqualified for the job.
While it was certainly much more applicable in 2000, I always like to share this selection from my fellow Ashevillan Thomas Wolfe‘s O Lost (the original, longer version of Look Homeward Angel) during election season:
“Oliver Gant had cast his first vote in Baltimore. It was for Ulysses Grant. Now he rode southward under the threatening mutter of a new civil war. Two men named Hayes and Tilden had contested the Presidency with a spirited exchange of vitriol. Mr. Tilden had been given the most votes, but Mr. Hayes had been given the Presidency. And the rabble whose large intelligence had ordained this miracle now stood shirtily around with opened mouths, or went bawling through the streets by torch light in pursuit of the lucid simplicities of democratic government.” (O Lost, p27)
Ever since I discovered google analytics several years ago I’ve found it very interesting to see what search terms bring visitors to this site.Â The bulk of traffic I get is brought here by search enegines (mostly Google).Â While there are often strange searches, occasionally there is one that is just funny–funny like “what was going through this person’s head” funny.
One example of that was a search string that brought someone here in 2006, right after my senior year in seminary: “sexy protestant seminarian.”Â The search was conducted at 2:15 am which makes one wonder exactly what was going on there.
Well, I was looking over my stats today and what should I find but that the following search string led someone here:
You heard it here first…
One of the surprising things about yesterday’s election for me was the number of libertarian votes in North Carolina. While it would be impossible to say for sure which direction these voters would have went had they not voted for Barr, it seems likely they would have went for John McCain giving him a slight edge in what turned out to be a very close race in the Tar Heel state.
Does anyone have any insight on the number of libertarian votes?
Amen to Mr. Jacobs:
I donâ€™t understand my fellow Christians who are enthusiastic Republicans; I donâ€™t understand the ones who are enthusiastic Democrats either. When I try to talk to either group about the ways their preferred party upholds â€” indeed, even celebrates â€” policies that simply cannot be reconciled with Christian teaching, I get the same shrug. Yes, they are certainly more â€œrealisticâ€ than I am; they may have a better understanding of what it means to live in a fallen and broken world. But they are all too sanguine for me. They arenâ€™t sad enough. There arenâ€™t enough â€” I recently taught the Aeneid, which brings this line to mind â€” there arenâ€™t enough lachrimae rerum, tears for how the world goes.
Regardless of your point of view on the election, I observed two things tonight that epitomize good leadership in the speeches of John McCain and Barack Obama. In McCain’s very gracious concession speech he made the comment that the failure of the campaign was his alone, not that of his supporters. In contrast, Obama stated that the victory was not his, but rather belonged to his supporters. Those two things are fantastic examples of leadership.