Deal W. Hudson
December 17, 2007
Two dramas are unfolding this political season.
First, can Barak Obama defeat Hillary Clinton? Now that Oprah Winfrey is on his stage, evidently he can.
Second, will the pro-life party nominate Rudy Giuliani and break its promise to the religious and social conservatives who came into the party over the last thirty years?
The plotlines are not unconnected. As long as Hillary looked unbeatable, the “only-Giuliani-can-beat-Clinton” argument won adherents. The Giuliani temptation was splitting the GOP between the pragmatists – those for whom Giuliani’s promise to appoint justices “like Roberts and Alito” was sufficient – and the principled – those who wanted more than token assurances on the pro-life front. That split almost became a reality when Dr. James Dobson floated the idea of a third party in the face of a Giuliani nomination.
But now Giuliani is out of the headlines. He’s well behind in all the early primary states, and his lead in Florida is dwindling. What’s happened?
The primary reason for his loss of support is the new vulnerability of Clinton’s candidacy. Hillary is over three points down in Iowa. Her husband says it will “be a miracle” if she wins there on January 3.
Those reluctant supporters – those who “held their nose” – are realizing the opponent may be Obama or even Edwards. That eliminates the only reason pro-life voters had to support Giuliani in the primary. No one is going to turn around and start arguing Republicans need Giuliani to beat Obama or Edwards.
The Huckabee surge in Iowa, the strength of Romney and McCain in New Hampshire, and the continued strength of Thompson in South Carolina mean that the pro-life base of the Republican Party is going to get a nominee they can support.
With religious and socially conservative voters behind the nominee, the GOP can beat any pro-abortion candidate the Democrats put forward. As Patrick Hynes has shown, in his Defense of the Religious Right, those are 30,000,000 voters nationwide or nearly a third of the electorate. Some will say that pro-lifers should stay behind Giuliani even if the Democratic nominee turns out to be someone other than Clinton.
They will say his assurances about justices and the promotion of adoption are enough. Pro-life voters do not believe him. For them, Giuliani is only a “lesser of two evils” candidate. They know that Rudy Giuliani is aggressively pro-abortion – he supports taxpayer-funded abortions.
This is not ancient history. In an April 4, 2005, CNN interview, Giuliani affirmed his support for taxpayer-funded abortions to keep poor women from being “deprived of their constitutional right” to have one. Giuliani’s position presents a direct challenge to the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, which excludes abortion from the “health care” service provided to low-income people through Medicaid. (The only exceptions are rape, incest, or the life of the mother.) Giuliani could not be trusted to veto any attempt to overthrow the Hyde Amendment. He obviously does not share the conviction of the late Congressman Henry Hyde (who was buried a week ago) that taxpayers should not be funding a procedure that is morally repugnant to many of them.
In the same April 4th interview, Giuliani calls abortion “wrong.” Yet, at the same time, he calls it a “constitutional right.” Giuliani holds the odd position that an American citizen has a “constitutional right” to do something wrong.
It’s clear also that Giuliani could not be trusted to reaffirm the Mexico City Policy which restricts federal money from paying for abortions overseas. Would Rudy Giuliani, if elected president, reaffirm the Mexico City Policy like George W. Bush did in the first week of his presidency?
The Giuliani campaign is surely praying for the Hillary Clinton machine to get rolling again. But it will be too late. The base of the GOP has emerged from its daze of Hillary-fear and now realizes they have pro-life candidates they can confidently nominate and who can win in 2008.