The Corner

Those Open-Minded Democrats

Not surprisingly, Katha Pollitt—the reception of whose recent book on abortion I discussed here—had a different reaction than I did to the exchange on it in the vice presidential debate. There must be at least a dozen comments in her op-ed with which I disagree, including her closing assertion that pro-lifers seek to impose their “personal religious beliefs on every woman in America.” But here I’ll focus on two parts of the op-ed that caught my eye.

First: She complains that it took too long for the debate to get to abortion. “An hour and 22 frustrating minutes dragged by before anyone seemed to remember women.” During those 82 minutes, Tom Kaine and Mike Pence had talked about Syria, taxes, the national debt, health care, the minimum wage, Social Security, and more. Are those all men’s issues?

Second: Pollitt insists that Republicans enforce a rigid uniformity of thought while Democrats “permit a broader range of views.” Her evidence: Trump had to come out in opposition to legal abortion to get the Republican presidential nomination, while Kaine was permitted on the Democratic ticket even though he “has a mixed record on choice.” She writes, “Unlike Mrs. Clinton and the Democratic Party platform, he is in favor of the Hyde amendment, which bans federal Medicaid dollars for abortions, although, as vice-presidential candidates must, he has said he will go along with his running mate’s position.”

So both tickets have people who have taken positions at odds with their party—in Trump’s case, much more at odds, given that he once favored keeping even partial-birth abortion legal and co-sponsored a NARAL fundraiser—but have now gotten in line with the majority sentiment among their party’s activists. Which proves how narrow-minded the Republicans are. 

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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