Years ago, Ben Wattenberg wrote a book called Values Matter Most. Trite title, maybe, but no less true for that. I thought of this when reading a reader e-mail just now, stemming from my Impromptus today. In close succession, President Obama gave speeches on abortion (generally) and the War on Terror (aspects of). In the second speech, he lamented and condemned waterboarding as outside the pale of American behavior. But in the first speech, he seemed entirely comfortable — entirely — with abortion-on-demand. This was my reader’s point.
Of course, abortion-on-demand is as American as apple pie by now. We’ve had it for more than 35 years, and it seems pretty well entrenched. Then again, other institutions in America have seemed well entrenched too: before collapsing, sometimes under moral weight.
There’s an expression in music, taught to me by a veteran pianist: “You play who you are.” Well, a president, in his speeches and policies, “plays” who he is — reveals what he is. And Obama told us a fair amount at Notre Dame and the National Archives.