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Pro-Obama and ‘Staunchly Antiabortion’?

In Monday’s Washington Post, political reporter Shailagh Murray seemed to want to have it both ways on Sen. Bob Casey Jr. endorsing and campaigning with Barack Obama. Readers could get whiplash in just a few sentences:

The camaraderie between Casey and Obama is not surprising. They are about the same age, they both have daughters, and they represent a new generation of lawmakers in Washington who are less ideologically rigid than their forebears.
Like his father, Casey is staunchly antiabortion.

Once you get past the oddity of Barack Obama — the most liberal Senator in the Capitol in 2007 — being hailed as “less ideologically rigid,” you’re still left with how Casey Junior can be both “staunchly” pro-life and endorsing Obama. Why be a pro-life Democrat if you’re not going to do anything to promote the pro-life cause within the party? The acorn falls pretty far from the father’s tree, Murray discovered:

His son, however, does not view Roe v. Wade as a political litmus test. “If you talk about only one issue, that’s going to prevent you from solving a lot of problems,” he said in an interview.
Obama spoke gushingly of Casey at the Penn State rally: “He is not just smart, not just dedicated, not just hardworking — one of the finest senators we have — but he’s also a decent, moral, kind person, and you don’t always find that in politics.”

Decent, moral, kind — but not to the unborn child. Murray was asked about her use of “staunchly” on a washingtonpost.com web chat Monday, and she replied:

He’s staunchly anti-abortion to the extent that he opposes embryonic stem cell research — that’s pretty staunch. But if you are familiar with his father’s record, Casey has departed quite significantly by backing not only Obama, but also Gore and Kerry, despite their differences over abortion. But I leave it to the theologians to determine whether a Catholic can be pro-life and support a political candidate who supports abortion rights.

The political question is not whether Casey is a staunch Catholic, but whether he’s really being pro-life in any consistent manner. The media question is why a political reporter would use words like “staunch” a few words away from “less ideologically rigid.” It’s not just confused on the page. It seems like a ploy to rub Casey’s alleged staunch-itude on Obama to make him look less ultraliberal on abortion.

Tim GrahamTim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, where he began in 1989, and has served there with the exception of 2001 and 2002, when served ...

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