Watching the Kate vs. Kate debate on Meet the Press this past Sunday–it was our own Kate O’Beirne vs. Kate Michelman, formerly of NARAL Pro-Choice America–how out-of-date the latter’s rhetoric seemed, how diffuse and filibustering her language was, over against the precision, citation of telling facts, and self-confident argument of Kate O’ Beirne.
Our Kate, author of Women Who Make the World Worse, talked quietly, as if she owned the future, as when she told the other Kate that, of course, the Left wanted to keep Roe in the courts. Why? Because if Roe were reversed, abortion would not be halted, but the arguments over it would move back into the political sphere of states and localities, where the pro-life forces would win more than half the arguments, for sure. The Left must avoid the democratic branches of government, lest they be badly embarrassed.
Much the same feeling arose from watching with fascination the Alito hearings. How old and out-of-date and empty of real ideas–not to say connection to reality–Kennedy, Biden, Leahy, Durbin, and, above all, Schumer seemed. They know they have to do what they are doing, but they know their efforts are for nothing, and their words are making hollow echoes. Even their indignation seems forced and falls swiftly flat.
The pompous rhetorical indignation of Kennedy has become merely pathetic. He was once a heroic figure, but he now seems like the lion of Alice in Wonderland–threadbare, tame, and roaring every so often only out of nostalgic habit. Chuck Schumer drones on like a little spoiled boy who becomes a schoolyard bully just by his superior tone of voice, boring in upon others, coercing them verbally, trying to make them feel as worthless as in his mind they are.
It is painful to watch the ruin of a great party. A great party has come to this.
And most of it happened because of commitment to a policy that cannot be maintained without lies and malicious euphemisms. That is, the killing of innocents in what is supposed to be the most welcoming, safest place on earth–a mother’s womb. (Isn’t the posture of wishing one were safe the fetal position?)
This radical lie–that what is destroyed in abortion is not a human individual, endowed with human rights–has poisoned a great party, induced a great rationalization in the place of constitutional reasoning in the Supreme Court, and divided a nation unnecessarily over an issue that ought at the very least to have been left to the consent of the people in diverse jurisdictions.
No lie so basic to one’s own identity goes unpunished.
– Michael Novak is the winner of the 1994 Templeton Prize for progress in religion and the George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute.