Regarding Douglas Kmiec

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In response to those liberals who have written in taking me to task for refusing to give Douglas Kmiec's arguments the respectful consideration they supposedly deserve, I would suggest a thought experiment. Imagine that John McCain had narrowly defeated Barack Obama last week, and that Slate sponsored a dialogue on the future of the Democratic Party in which Joe Lieberman showed up to offer pious lectures on how the Democrats could retake the Presidency. Then further imagine that instead of being a hawkish liberal who supported John McCain because of their shared hawkishness - a position that's internally consistent, whatever else you think about it - Lieberman were instead a longtime anti-war voice in American politics, a Paul Wellstone or Russ Feingold figure, or even a strident pacifist. And then imagine that the Connecticut Senator had spent the campaign insisting that John McCain was actually the best choice, not for hawkish liberals, but for his fellow anti-war activists ... on the grounds, maybe, that Obama wouldn't really get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and that John McCain's "League of Democracies" idea offered the best blueprint for an end to international conflict in the long run. How much respectful consideration would Lieberman's arguments merit, under those circumstances?

Look, there are a variety of not-unreasonable ways for Americans who believe the unborn deserve legal protection to justify a vote for Barack Obama. But to claim that a candidate who seems primed to begin disbursing taxpayer dollars in support of abortion and embryo-destructive research as soon as he enters the White House somehow represented the better choice for anti-abortion Americans on anti-abortion grounds is an argument that deserves to met, not with engagement, but with contempt.

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Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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