The Corner

The “Common Ground” Rhetorical Device

During his speech at Notre Dame yesterday, President Obama stated, “I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away,” and made reference (seemingly obligatory for politicians post-Mario Cuomo’s 1984 speech) to finding “common ground” on the matter of abortion. President Obama also made repeated reference to Fr. Ted Hesburgh and his efforts on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to provide civil rights to “all God’s children.”


Ironically, the one place you will not find a debate about abortion is at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The agency’s mandate covers all issues pertaining to civil rights, except one: Congress specifically barred the Commission from conducting any hearings, studies, analyses, etc. related to abortion (even though abortion data suggest fairly significant racial disparities).


It’s difficult to have a debate and find common ground when you’re precluded from even raising the issue.


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