For the second day in a row, I have to take some issue with the top piece on our homepage. Yesterday, I thought Mike Tanner was shooting at the wrong target on earmarks. Today, I think Dick Morris and Eileen McGann are missing something big when they contend that the economy is the GOP issue.
First of all, that’s all fine and good that one tea-party leader on a conference call said abortion isn’t her issue. But many a poll, including the National Review Institute’s earlier this year, has suggested that tea partiers are more pro-life than the overall electorate. My experience attending some tea-party rallies has made clear to me that there are many who are social conservatives in the tea party, that social issues are among the issues that motivate them.
But we can trade stories like that all day. What really is perplexing to me is the Morris/McGann contention that pro-life activists have decreasing clout with the GOP. This is why John Boehner gave his first new-majority pitch speech to the National Right to Life Committee? This is why one of the House GOP Pledge items is a universal and permanent Hyde Amendment? Respect for the dignity of human life has been a consistent drive for John Boehner in Congress. He made a point to push on it at the Blair House summit on health care, for one thing, as the White House and current speaker of the House lied their way to its passage. Pro-life activists not only have clout, they’re well-represented in the presumptive next speaker of the House.
Morris and McGann also write that “despite this growing support for pro-life policies, no Republican candidate is basing his or her insurgency against an incumbent Democratic congressman, senator, or governor on social issues.” Which is why Sarah Palin gave her big Washington, D.C., Mamma Grizzly pro-life feminism speech to the Susan B. Anthony List, which devotes itself to electing pro-life candidates to office?
Morris and McGann contend that further evidence of the waning clout of pro-lifers in the party is Mike Huckabee’s primary showing. Maybe folks like Rush Limbaugh and the editor of NR taking him on on economics and foreign policy had something to do with it. Yeah, social conservatism alone won’t elect you president. (And maybe “Christian leader” ads might hurt you a tad.) That’s not evidence social conservatives (or Christians!) have less influence in the GOP today.
I actually believe we’re at this beautiful moment where people are in such a mood for common sense in governing that things like a universal Hyde Amendment and de-funding Planned Parenthood are absolutely coalition wins. Fiscal conservatives and the most dedicated anti-abortion activist can agree here. That’s not losing clout. It’s travelling the road to victory on the human-rights issue of our time. There are miles to go in a country where Roe still rules. But incrementally, we’ve come far. And recent successful GOP leaders — President George W. Bush — have been a help, not a hindrance here.