I have a Current up about the Douglas Kmiec and Andrew Bacevich endorsements of Obama, and what, if anything, they tell us about the fate of the "Catholic vote." But I wanted to make another point on the subject as well. I'm an enormous admirer of Professor Bacevich, but I wish his Obama-endorsing piece hadn't stacked the deck so much; specifically, I wish he'd made a more detailed case for why issues of war and peace ought to outweigh the abortion issue for pro-life voters in '08, rather than claiming, implausibly:
... only a naïf would believe that today’s Republican Party has any real interest in overturning Roe v. Wade or that doing so now would contribute in any meaningful way to the restoration of “family values.” GOP support for such values is akin to the Democratic Party’s professed devotion to the “working poor”: each is a ploy to get votes, trotted out seasonally, quickly forgotten once the polls close.
You hear this sort of thing frequently from pro-lifers who have grown disillusioned with the GOP, and there's some truth to it: A lot of Republican leaders could care less about Roe and would prefer, if anything, to see it upheld, and even if Roe were overturned abortion would remain legal in most of the country. Nonetheless, it remains the case for all the pro-choice sympathies of leading GOPers, the Republican Party nearly succeeded in overturning Roe v. Wade fifteen years ago, and would have if one man - Anthony Kennedy - hadn't changed his mind about the issue at the last minute. It also remains the case that the Bush Administration has seemingly brought to Supreme Court within a single vote of undoing what Kennedy wrought in 1992. It further remains the case that while overturning Roe wouldn't magically restore us to some Ozzie-and-Harriet wonderland, returning control over abortion law to the hands of the voting public remains a necessary goal for any pro-life, socially-conservative politics that takes itself seriously as a change agent in American life. And it further remains the case that to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 is to give up on overturning Roe for at least a decade, probably for two, and possibly for all time. These realities may not require pro-lifers to vote for John McCain, but they deserve more serious consideration that Bacevich affords them.
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