The Corner

President Obama’s Choices

In recent days, several commentators, including some who are otherwise disposed to be supportive of the new president’s agenda, have been startled to find the administration’s budget plan has a strongly liberal tilt (see here, here, here, and here).

It seems the president’s moderate-sounding rhetoric during the campaign and early days in office had convinced many in the political class that he would abandon the political identity he had forged while serving as a legislator and govern from the center.

Now they know better, or at least they should.

Let’s hope the same awakening is occurring among those self-described pro-lifers who vociferously supported the Obama candidacy.

In very recent days, the president has: 

proposed to rescind HHS’s regulation aimed at protecting the conscience rights of physicians and others, especially in the context of abortion; 

permitted U.S. government funding of organizations sponsoring abortion provision around the world (i.e., rescission of the so-called Mexico City Policy); 

nominated an aggressively pro-choice Catholic to the Secretary of Health and Human Services; and 

opened the door to federal funding of embryo-destroying stem-cell research, claiming as he did so that the decision was carried out in the name of protecting science from politics.

Governing is choosing, as the saying goes, and no amount of words can obscure the priorities reflected in President Obama’s decisions. Less than two months into his term, it should be obvious to all concerned, including voters, that the president’s sympathies lie with a strongly liberal social-policy agenda which is completely at odds with any sensible understanding of traditional moral reasoning.

What does this mean for pro-lifers? Going forward, there should be little wasted energy on “common ground” efforts. What’s needed are tactics to minimize the damage while a thoughtful game plan is put in place to use the excesses of the Obama agenda to leverage electoral victories the next time voters go to the polls.

– James C. Capretta is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.  He served as an associate director at the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004.