It's interesting to be both ahead of the curve and behind the curve at the same time. At the beginning of this calendar year, I predicted that the National Right to Life would endorse an openly pro-choice candidate for President eventually and that they would call him "pro-life." Well, that hasn't happened quite yet. But what I didn't know at the time that I wrote that was that the Massachusetts Citizens for Life had already endorsed Scott Brown, an openly pro-choice candidate, in his Senate race, and that in the course of the campaign they said that he would be "a pro-life vote in the Senate." Isn't that a nice weasel phrase? We manage to imply that someone who obviously and openly isn't pro-life really is pro-life because of what we think he'll do. So I was ahead of the curve, because something very much like my prediction had already happened before I ever made the prediction, and I was behind the curve, because I didn't know that until a couple of days ago.
(I can't tell what position the National organization took on Brown. This site says that they contributed to his campaign some time in the last few years. And there is a confusing reference to their position on Brown in this article that I find difficult to decipher.)
I found out about MCFL two days ago because, much to my disappointment, the Human Life Review (which I have praised here and which I still think a worthwhile publication) ran an article by James T. Grady ardently defending MCFL's decision. It's hard to tell what Grady will think now that Brown has turned out to be a reliably liberal vote in the Senate. Perhaps the fact that he voted against Obamacare (which went through anyway) is somehow supposed to make it all okay.
Particularly absurd in the article is Grady's attempt to bring in the late Pope on his side. Here's how he tries.
The Pope discusses the case of a legislative vote that would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, and explains the role of an elected official in this circumstances as follows:In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.
Obviously, this language does not exactly fit the dispute under discussion because...Senator Brown is pro-choice. However, the language does clearly state that a pro-life legislator could properly support a narrowly limited pro-abortion law....
The Pope in this situation [where there are strong cultural currents contrary to the positions of the Church] urges an approach that considers what results are reasonably attainable: "At the same time, certain that moral truth cannot fail to make its presence deeply felt in every conscience, the Church encourages political leaders, starting with those who are Christians, not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the re-establishment of a just order in the defense and promotion of the value of life."Thus, the Pope, once again, in certain limited circumstances, suggests that choices that aren't always the most desirable may be made for the greater good of your eventual goal.
Whether this papal language lends support to the MCFL position will no doubt be a debatable matter. However, the terms "limiting the harm done" and "realistically attainable" do appear to support its endorsement of Scott Brown. [emphasis added']
So...the late Pope said nothing about the action of a pro-life organization, the raison d'etre of which is promoting the protection of the unborn, in issuing a ringing endorsement of someone who openly and unabashedly supports the legality of abortion on demand. (We pro-lifers used to call that "being pro-abortion.") Grady admits that the Pope doesn't really say what he wants him to say, but then he calls chutzpah to his aid, takes two brief phrases out of context, and winds up with a flourish by saying that these phrases "do appear to support [the] endorsement of Scott Brown." This sorry performance reminds me of the place in Fiddler On the Roof where Tevye says, of the Bible, "Somewhere it says something about a chicken!"
I think I'll give the crystal ball a rest for the rest of Christmas.
Update: It occurs to me to note that in arguments about voting for a pro-abortion candidate, we are often told by those advocating the vote that a vote is not an endorsement. But here we have an actual endorsement of a pro-abortion candidate by a pro-life activist group. Is that not an endorsement, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding?
Q: When is an endorsement not an endorsement?
A: When it's politically expedient.