The Corner

Bill McGurn on Bart Stupak

I received a Google alert that my former NR colleague — I’m accumulating tidbits for the eventual shocking tell-all — has a new WSJ column (“The Man Who Made Pelosi Cry ‘Uncle’”) coming out tomorrow, which, by the miracle of modern technology, is available tonight. In the same edition, a Journal editorial excoriates pro-lifers, claiming the Stupak amendment’s victory made a bad deal palatable.


Bunkum. I prefer the McGurnian take:

Now, some believe Republicans should have voted “present” on the Stupak amendment, on the grounds that the worse they could make the bill, the harder for Speaker Pelosi to get the magic 218 votes. That’s pretty short-sighted, for several reasons. For one thing, in September all but a few Republican House members signed a letter to Speaker Pelosi demanding such a vote. Had Republicans defeated a pro-life amendment they had asked for, they would have paid a dear price for their cynicism.

For another, it’s not even clear it would have worked. The Stupak alliance of Democrats was a broad one, from liberals like Minnesota’s Jim Oberstar to conservatives like Mississippi’s Gene Taylor. The danger of the cynical GOP strategy is that it could easily have backfired, freeing up Democrats to give Mrs. Pelosi her victory — and putting Republicans in the awkward position of being unable to press for funding restrictions they had explicitly defeated.

I’ve toiled in the pro-life vineyards for over 25 years. Much of that time has been spent kvetching about the lack of any leadership among Democrat lawmakers. Kudos to Bart Stupak, who has done a good thing on so many levels. The fight to defend the innocent unborn should be the monopoly of no party or creed. And it must be waged on fields of battle not of our choosing — such as this putrid health-care bill.

The strategy of the Journal and John Shadegg (who is very respected in these quarters) was truly too cute by half. I’d love to see pro-life Congressman Puffbluster try to convince constituents Mr. and Mrs. Clinicpicket that his “present” or “no” vote on Stupak was really pro-life. He wouldn’t. Even if it had wings, that kind of baloney won’t fly in Peoria or anywhere else outside the Beltway — or the environs of certain journalist offices.

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