The Corner

So Much For Nuance

Of Obama’s abortion remarks this weekend, I wrote:

News flash: There’s not a job on the planet above the pay grade of the President of the United States. If you can’t solve every problem and are humble about it, that’s fine — but you can’t get away with being unsure about the most defining moral issue in politics. 

Since then, I’ve been amazed at the email I’ve been getting. Much of it angrily asserts I was willfully ignorant that Obama was referring to God with his “above my paygrade” remark. Actually, what Obama said was that determining where life begins was above his paygrade “from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective.”  However, I obviously understood he was suggesting the question was difficult to answer in the absence of some unknowable perspective of the divine.

But my point was that just because only God can say with certainty where sentient life begins, it doesn’t mean the president gets to opt out of staking a moral position on the matter that will determine policy. Think of it this way: in a perfect world, only God would decide who lives or dies. And yet, the President still has to frequently decide to send soldiers out to certain death in service of national security and the greater good. Are such decisions above the Commander-In-Chief’s “pay grade”?

Finally, it’s transparently wrong for Obama to say he defers to God on the matter. As a Senator he has a hundred percent rating from NARAL. He has already in effect staked out a policy position that determines life isn’t protected up to and even after being born. 


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