Rudy's Pro-Life?

David Brody has a mighty provocative headline: Brody File: Pro-Life Rudy?

How cute: Pete Sessions calling Rudy "pro-life" because Giuliani has no objections to a partial birth abortion ban, the Hyde amendment, and mouthes the words "strict constructionist" on occasion. Sessions is probably joking. If Giuliani is willing to let surrogates describe himself as pro-life, then the words have no meaning, and Giuliani is pandering. (By the way: as Giuliani as has said, his "strict constructionists" might well preserve Roe v. Wade, which means that Giuliani employs the phrase to describe judicial orientation, rather than outcomes, which is how the phrase plays in politics.)

We political types tend to see "pro-life" and "pro-choice" as binary adjectives. Pro-choicers are all reading from Planned Parenthood scripts and pro-lifers worship at the altar of James Bopp, Jr.

To the consternation of political elites on both sides, Americans are firmly in neither camp. The numbers change a little but not all that much. They support Roe v. Wade. They tolerate some restrictions on abortion and support others; they oppose efforts to ban all abortion. They support partial birth abortion bans, except in certain polls, when asked the question in certain ways, they don't. (Pro-lifers would insist that Americans are moderately pro-life; pro-choicers call this position moderately pro-choice). Americans are deeply ambivalent about abortion. For most of them -- most of us -- it's a moral question to which the answers do not easily come.

Giuliani's position, rhetorically evolved from his mayoral days, seems to represent this Great American Middle.

What Giuliani's advisers believe -- or intuit -- is that the war against Islam (or radical Islam) is the animating impulse of evangelical politics now. Abortion isn't.