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They're ahead of me [Updated]

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.

Comments (12)

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!"

Heh. I remember that line. I also recall The Simpsons:


Homer: "...besides Marge, the Bible says gambling is ok."

Marge: "Really? Where?"

Homer: "Somewhere in the back."

As long as the pro-life movement engages in politics it will make compromises. That is the very nature of the art. Endorsing Brown was a prudent move, he represented the 40th vote to stop Obamacare, a high priority for pro-life political activists. No one knew for certain that Obama would violate constitutional norms by attaching his monstrosity to a reconciliation bill in order to avoid the Senatorial filibuster.

The battle for Life will be won by the traditional means; prayer, fasting, witness, homes for unwed mothers, non-violent protest and all that goes into shaping a culture consensus. The politicians who write the laws will catch up to the shifting changes in the electorate. Not the other way around. For now; incrementalism and all the clothes pins on noses strategems that come with it will be the course of action for those engaged in the political arena. Purism will be the course for those in the pews and in the streets. Burke's little platoons will carry the day.

As for your crystal ball, smash the cynical globe against the pavement. It is badly effecting your vision and maligning some good people in the process.

I didn't malign them. I disagreed with them. One is, you know, permitted to do that. They run a pro-life organization. Voting individually is one thing, though I also, as you will guess, would not have voted for Brown. For a pro-life organization to endorse a pro-abortion candidate, however, at least verges on deception.

I think this is going too far; At the beginning of this calendar year, I predicted that the National Right to Life would endorse an openly pro-choice candidate for President...

I understand how frustration can lead to rhetorical excess, but let's not engage in the kind of disheartening friendly fire that serves only to console the other side just when they need it most. The number of abortion mills are decreasing, greater social stigma is reducing the number of practitioners, and the discernible shift towards the pro-life side is across all demographics, even the young. Let the abortion industry and its allies huddle in their lairs without a trace of solace. Disagree with your allies, but to predict their craven capitulation is simply wrong.

As for MCFL, they labor in a terrain and under circumstances very different than most of the country. The potential to derail Obamacare, while also striking back at the Bay State's depraved political class led to a defensible decision. One that in no way serves as a harbinger of a pending sell-out at the national level.


Dear Mr Colacho. Far from being scolded for her witness, Lydia ought be praised for calling a spade a spade. The last thing we need is for this crucial issue to be thought about in terms of "us" or "them" as so often happens in politics.

In principle, it is simply wrong to endorse a pro-abortion politician if the org doing the endorsing claims it is pro-life because that breeds distrust and cynicism.

Oh, yeah, they are pro life - when it suits their politics.

Kudos, Lydia. You are courageous and ya done good.

Second the praise. It was Lydia that spotted the card-palming when the National Right to Life pulled the Great Disappearing Stem Cell Issue magic trick when they decided to annoint McCain as Our Man. It ain't cynicism, it's keeping a long memory and watching the cards.

Politics by its very nature requires cold-blooded calculations and messy compromises. Witnessing in the hyper-competitive, unjustly personal arena of public policy requires a courage all its own. It is easier to remain pure on the sidelines than it is on the field of play. Which is why most sane people avoid the grief that comes with political activism. Factor in a cause that is held in contempt by the entire political class, media and most of the electorate of one's state and one can only marvel at some of the people that work for MCFL.

There are many ways to advance the pro-life cause and we will all be called to account for our contributions at some point. I truly doubt many here would want their own efforts compared to those put forth by National Right to Life over the past 40 years.

Time to make way to the cold, creaky stable providing shelter to the homeless family in the throes of a crisis pregnancy. See you in Bethlehem.

Merry Christmas.

Actually, it's a very good question and one that I'm puzzled about as to what National's response was to all of this. Here is the strange quotation I mentioned in the story:

Initially, Brown’s support for Roe v. Wade discouraged pro-life backing. Fox said that some key national pro-life groups were slow to grasp Brown’s potential for blocking the health-care reform juggernaut.

“The National Right to Life Committee asked me, ‘Why didn’t you call us?’ But I knew they would have questioned supporting him last fall,” Fox recalled.

If someone else can explain that to me, go right ahead. This isn't snark but real bafflement as to what is being impied. I find it confusing and blame the reporter for not writing clearly. One possible interpretation is that the National only initially opposed Brown but in the end came around to supporting him and asked Anne Fox (who is with the MCFL) why she didn't call them for help supporting him, but that she did not call them because she knew they would not have supported him initially.

And then there's the web site that lists all his contributors and lists the National org. as giving him several thousand dollars. Don't know what to make of that.

In any event, Scott is completely right about the National organization's making stem cell research disappear. Here is my post on that:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2008/10/the_amazing_disappearing_embry.html

And finally, why should commentator DC react with annoyance to my prediction about NRLC when he so strongly supports the action of MCFL? After all, he apparently draws no bright line regarding a pro-life organization's open and full endorsement of a self-avowedly pro-choice candidate. By his own lights, this is a matter entirely of circumstances. So I cannot for the life of me see why it should be so impossible or even implausible that national circumstances should not also seem to him to support such a move at some time in the future, at which point he would chide me for criticizing NRLC for a similar endorsement.

And finally, why should commentator DC react with annoyance to my prediction about NRLC when he so strongly supports the action of MCFL?

I don't strongly support their action. I said their decision was defensible given the environment they were operating in. Had Brown's election resulted in thwarting Obamacare, as it should have, then this conversation would have a very different texture, if it were to take place at all. It is a huge stretch to say that translates into: let's support pro-abortion presidential candidates and hope for some crumbs off the table.

I do reject the long-distance condemnation which is then used to support the unfulfilled prophecies of a broken crystal ball. NRTL was cool to Brown, as you concede so predicting their looming betrayal seems like an exercise in despair.

Maybe an exercise in self-examination is in order for all of us. When exploring why local political arms of the pro-life movement makes unpleasant and distressing concessions, we might find the real culprit is the complacency, cultural conformity and compromises we make in our own personal lives.

The only thing I know about NRLC and Brown is that Anne Fox said they would have been cool to him "last fall," whichever fall that refers to. I do not concede that they were cool to him generally. I find the evidence there puzzling, and donating five thousand dollars to his campaign, if indeed that information is accurate, isn't being very "cool to him."

My crystal ball is merely being retired for the nonce. It sure isn't broken. As I say, if anything, the action of MCFL and their deceptive use of the phrase "a pro-life vote in the Senate" shows that I was more prescient than I knew.

By the way, what inspired me to make the original comment over at Bill's blog was that a pro-life friend on Facebook was _calling Scott Brown pro-life_. This despite knowing his position. The very term "pro-life" was being defined down before my very eyes.

This is a problem.

When exploring why local political arms of the pro-life movement makes unpleasant and distressing concessions, we might find the real culprit is the complacency, cultural conformity and compromises we make in our own personal lives

No. It is not my fault some soi disant Pro Life Org endorsed a Pro-abort Pol. They are the culprits.

It is their fault and you err in trying to defend that ghastly endorsement by suggesting that I, and others, would have thought that endorsement defensible if Obamacare had been repealed.

Pro-Life means without exceptions. Period.

What MCFL did, for me at least, was a total capitulation on their part and it remains a precedence for them to endorse another pro-abort Pol in the future if it means...(fill in one's own imagined benefit)

The MCFL owes the Pro-Life Community an apology not an "explanation" which Lydia rightfully deconstructed and exposed as the casuistic sophistry it is.

My crystal ball is merely being retired for the nonce.

Yep, wrap it up and hide in the attic and don't let it replace your GPS.

MCFL took a gamble that had it paid off would have dramatically altered the abortion industry's back-door empowerment through Obamacare. On this, Brown was benefiting the pro-life cause in a grand manner.

However, if your friends are calling a prominent politician from New England "pro-life", they really need to visit the 6 states more and stop fantasizing.

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