Ponnuru's Mask

One essential tactic of the theoconservative project is to disguise its true, radical aims. Ramesh Ponnuru's latest post is a small but telling example. I cited a new, draconian bill in South Dakota that bans all abortions, including cases begotten by incest and rape. I bet that Ponnuru wouldn't be against it. Ponnuru dismisses this by saying:

"I have already come out against the South Dakota bill, which is the latest irrelevancy Sullivan is using to distract attention from his record of misrepresentation."

Here is the post where Ponnuru opposes the bill:

"Pro-lifers are trying to enact a general ban on abortion there. Right goal; wrong means. Our moral obligation is to provide the maximum feasible, sustainable protection for the unborn. Setting up a law for the Supreme Court to strike down doesn't advance that goal."

So you see that Ponnuru's sole reason for opposing such a radical law is not because he doesn't believe in it. In his words, it's "the right goal." His opposition is because it would be counter-productive and imprudent at this moment, given the current Supreme Court, to force a challenge. This bait-and-switch on prudential compromises when challenged on basic moral positions is also his gambit with respect to Robert George. If you want to read a good account of how this is deliberate deception on the part of the theocons, read Hadley Arkes' remarkable confession of the need to dissemble here. (Arkes seems to believe that a murderer of an abortionist is more moral than an abortionist, a view that would make complete sense from George's and Ponnuru's moral postulates). Meanwhile, a reader writes:

"I was a student of George's at Princeton. Believe me, you're representing his views entirely fairly. His "cute" little piece for the First Things symposium is pure Robbie George, all the way. I also had one of his acolytes (read: Madison Program) as a preceptor; you should have seen the reaction of a dozen college juniors and seniors when he couldn't begin to understand why regulation of masturbation and blowjobs didn't strike all of us as a perfectly reasonable thing for the government to engage in, even if only as "instructive" (read: criminal) laws."

These people mean what they write. When challenged, they lie about it. Repeatedly. They don't want to sound like cranks. But they actually believe that, in an ideal world, masturbation would be a crime. And they get very upset when you point that out.