Where a Loss Will Hurt
The pro-life cause will take a hit if the Democrats win the House.


Hadley Arkes

Count me as one of those brooders in the party of hope: I worry, I worry, but I cling to the possibility that the genius of Karl Rove and the Republican “ground game” will bring out the vote.

The economy is purring along, and the tax revenue is gushing in, so that there is no rationale for raising taxes. Nor is there a rationale for giving over Congress to the party of the ACLU on the matter of monitoring terrorist network; giving terrorists, without uniforms, access to the courts is not the best of plans.

If the country chooses the Democrats, it would be mainly because about 38 percent consider the war in Iraq to be the dominant issue, and generally a failure. Yet if this significance is plain to everyone here, why should it not be equally plain to the enemy? Why would we not expect the enemy to have every incentive, after the election, to heat things up and drive the Democrats over the edge?

On the matter of taxes, it is conceivable that the president, for the next two years, could put the heat on a Democratic House: tag Charlie Rangel and Co. for allowing the tax cuts to expire, and have that responsibility hanging over them as they prepare for the election of 2008.

It’s on the pro-life issue where the differences of a Democratic House are likely to be felt most acutely. The president offered a magnificent veto of the bill that would fund research that involved the killing of embryos. Apart from that, though, the stance of the administration has been thus: The president will sign any pro-life measure that is sent to him, but the administration will furnish no leadership and virtually no help in passing anything. The initiatives, the heavy-lifting, have come all the time from the congress, and especially from the House.

Pro-lifers don’t have to be told what a difference it makes to have a Republican congress, joined to an administration containing their friends. But if parts of the Republican base are determined to show their anger by striking at the targets nearest at hand, they will visit the most lasting damage on the pro-life cause. For they would dismantle then the most reliable source of energy in that cause that there is in the national government.

— Hadley Arkes is the Ney Professor of American Institutions at Amherst College and a fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.