Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Don't Exaggerate

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 15, 2009

 Earlier in this thread I argued that the pro-life movement should be more critical of the "uncertain allies" who seek the support of pro-lifers during campaign years, but do little or nothing to advance the cause once they are in office. From that general axiom I think it is easy to derive an important corollary: Serious pro-lifers should look askance at allies who exaggerate the credentials of their favorite candidates.

Once you have made the decision to support Candidate A over Candidate B, there is a great temptation to claim that Candidate A is the ideal man-- particularly if Candidate B is horrible. And a certain measure of exaggeration is to be expected in any lively political campaign. Still, there are limits. It is a disservice to the cause (not to mention the truth) to suggest that Candidate A is God's greatest gift to the pro-life movement, when in fact Candidate A has compiled a barely respectable record on the issue. And again, this general proposition remains true even if Candidate B is rabidly pro-abortion. 

Rather than speaking coyly about Candidates A and B, let me illustrate my point with a specific case. Now that the 2008 presidential race is over, we should be able to speak about it objectively without causing apoplexy.

If the only viable presidential candidates are Barack Obama and John McCain, there is no question that of those two, someone seeking an end to legal abortion should choose McCain. (For the sake of the argument I am ignoring 3rd-party candidates. In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I myself voted for a 3rd-party candidate. I should also point out that I voted in Massachusetts, where I could be confident that my vote would not affect the electoral contest between the two major-party candidates.) Every available indicator-- voting record, campaign rhetoric, endorsements, staff affiliations-- showed Obama to be a looming disaster for the pro-life movement. McCain, on the other hand, had maintained a pro-life voting record throughout his long career in Congress. 

But-- here's my point-- apart from his voting record, McCain had no serious pro-life credentials. He had not sponsored pro-life legislation. He had not delivered pro-life speeches. He had not emphasized the abortion issue in campaign appearances (except, naturally, to identifiably pro-life audiences). He had not recruited pro-life activists to his staff. In all his years as an active politician he had never-- not once-- headlined a pro-life event outside a campaign season. Based on his track record he could be seen as an acceptable candidate, but nothing more.

In fact in February 2008, once Rudy Giuliani had been eliminated from the contest for the Republican nomination, Republicans for Choice threw its support to John McCain. At that time, hard-nosed Judie Brown of the American Life League asked whether Republicans for Choice knew something that McCain's pro-life supporters didn't know. The answer, I'm afraid, was Yes. "Pro-choice" Republicans knew that the prospect of a McCain presidency was not a threat to their agenda. 

The election of 2008 is over, and I don't mean to dredge up old animosities. I'm grateful for the pro-life votes that John McCain has cast. But he cannot, by an objective measurement, be graded as a hero of the pro-life movement. So what attitude should responsible pro-lifers take toward those campaign activists who did their utmost to sell McCain as just that: as a pro-life hero? Their efforts, I suggest, sold the pro-life movement cheap, and undermined its credibility. 


Discussion in order:

 

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our August expenses ($15,070 to go):
$35,000.00 $19,929.98
43% 57%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Weep for slaughtered Christians, not for dialogue with Islam 4 hours ago
An Appointment that Francis Should Withdraw August 28
A new approach to Vatican appointments? August 28
The rising, dangerous influence of 'transgender' ideology August 27
Does the EU flag evoke the patronage of the Virgin Mary? August 27

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
‘A real via crucis’: Pope Francis, patriarch plead on behalf of Iraq’s Christians CWN - August 8
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians in flight as Islamic State advances CWN - August 8