Ramesh, I don’t want to fight again, but c’mon. I agree — I wish Rudy and the campaign would not do the “throw women in jail” bit. Pro-lifers are not pushing for that, and it is just — understandably — making pro-lifers irate when they read/hear that stuff. But, in context, I really don’t think what Rudy said was as offensive as the NYPost article Rich referred to suggested.
Rudy’s argument is not that the pro-lifers don’t have a point. It is that we shouldn’t have a stalemate among what he acknowledged were “very good people” on both sides of the abortion issue that prevents Republicans and conservatives from considering the candidate vis-a-vis all the issues. With due respect, I don’t think that’s far from what Ramesh has argued about McCain — i.e., that he’s owed a second look based on the full arc of his positions which, however much one or the other may bother Republicans and conservatives, is an overall record they can feel comfortable pulling the lever for.
Now, I don’t want to pooh-pooh this. The unborn are not, in my mind, materially different from the enslaved of the 19th Century. I’m convinced, based in large part on the eloquent arguments Ramesh makes in The Party of Death, that a century from now, conventional wisdom will be as unkind to those who turn a convenient blind-eye to the unborn as it now is to those who turned a blind eye to the evil that was slavery. I have a great deal of empathy for, and I think Rudy fully respects, those who can’t get beyond this issue.
But the case for a candidate who is not going to repudiate his prior positions on life has to be that people should move beyond abortion. Not ignore abortion, but move beyond it in the sense of weighing the candidate’s full set of positions, including those on abortion. What else could Rudy’s position be? What else could he possibly say to offer himself to voters in the same way that Ramesh has said McCain should be understood as offering himself to voters — i.e., as a full package that conservatives can support notwithstanding deep disagreements on some crucially important issues.
It may not end up being a persuasive argument. But it is not an offensive argument, and it is not being offered in an offensive way — even if it’s being reported as if it were being offered offensively. The Post article intimates that Rudy was telling pro-lifers to pound sand. That’s a million miles from the truth, and we at NRO should be putting things in context, not just repeating and reacting to the Post’s very incomplete version of events. It’s not like the full version does not give pro-lifers anything to complain about. But let’s not make it into something it wasn’t.