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Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

Birth Pangs

(Reprinted from the issue of March 1, 2007)

Capitol Bldg, Washington Watch logo 
for Birth PangsBack when I was “a roaring anti-Semite” (and long before Jimmy Carter was accused of being one, though his brother Billy was), I was afraid the neoconservatives would get us into a war with the Arabs. That was the easy part. What I didn’t expect — because I just couldn’t even imagine it — was our getting stuck in a Muslim civil war. What president, of either party, could ever be that dumb? Or that smart? (In the sense of knowing how to accomplish such an impossible thing.)

I suppose you could regard civil war, where people kill each other spontaneously, without being ordered to by government, as a form of democracy. In that respect, maybe democracy really is spreading in the Middle East, just as President Bush promised. And Condoleezza Rice suggests that the apparent turmoil should be understood as “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”

Once upon a time, people who wanted limitless government and made trouble around the globe were called Communists. Today, of course, they’re known as conservatives. If that’s just semantics, call me anti-semantic.

Well, as Billy Carter once observed, “There’s a heck of lot more Arabians than there is Jews.” And a lot of them are even madder at us than they are at each other.

The Magic Presidency

Whatever is left of the famous, or alleged, Republican “base” got some crumbs of good news this week. Each of the two leading GOP presidential hopefuls took a moment to express unsuspected reservations about legal abortion!

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani let it be known that though he still favors “choice,” he actually disapproves and even “hate[s]” abortion and, as president, would appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. We didn’t know you felt so strongly, Rudy! Please don’t let Read Joe 
Sobran's columns the day he writes them!it torment your conscience.

Of course one could absolutely love abortion, as many of Giuliani’s liberal supporters do, and still think Roe was a gross usurpation of state power and violation of constitutional law. One may even suspect his sincerity, given the timing and suddenness of this revelation. Would he, in the Oval Office, really follow through on this? Would he use the “bully pulpit” to promote moral passion against killing the unborn? And will he make this a major theme of his campaign in 2008 if he runs against Hillary Clinton, who thinks abortion (though an unfortunate, immoral, and difficult decision) should be “safe, legal, and rare”?

Personally, if it comes to a choice between Hillary and Rudy, I prefer Hillary.

Those who are old enough to remember the year 2000, when Giuliani was going to run against her for the New York Senate seat she now holds until marital scandal, prostate cancer, and (as I seem to recall, though I am told otherwise by a less senile informant) ominous polls caused him to pull out of the race, may also recall that he wasn’t making a big issue of abortion at the time.

Well, at least we have a chance to elect another Catholic president next year. (Which is why I prefer Hillary to Rudy, as in 2004 I slightly preferred George W. Bush to the Catholic John Kerry. The last thing I want to see is a Catholic president, given the kind of Catholics in politics today.)

Not to be outdone, John McCain, trailing Giuliani in the polls and sinking fast, paused from defending the Iraq war to announce that he too wants to overturn Roe. Or at least believes that someone should overturn it. Or something. Anyway, he opposes “legislating from the bench” — not that anyone would admit favoring it. And then there is Mitt the Massachusetts Mormon, who, after whirling around a few times, also hates abortion. Moral leadership is just busting out all over. It sounds as if we are being overrun with pro-life candidates.

If not, if these candidates should turn out to be overstating their loathing for feticide in time for the primaries (it has been known to happen), will conservatives finally split with the Republican Party next year? How many of them will repair to the Constitution Party, which, whatever may be said against it, has never waffled on abortion — in contrast to all the Republicans who want to be judged on their promises instead of their records?

What hasn’t changed, and shows no sign of changing, is the American idolatry of the Executive Branch — the sure and certain faith that a new president can come to the rescue and solve all our problems, even with Democrats controlling both houses of the U.S. Congress.

After all, this is the same country that still thinks Abraham Lincoln did away with slavery with a stroke of the pen and, according to polls, ranks John Kennedy among its greatest presidents. As Robert Higgs of The Independent Institute has written in an article titled “No More ‘Great Presidents,’” Americans now expect their presidents to perform “supernatural feats.” Who says this is an age of skepticism?

The Future of Ill-Bay

By the way, if Hillary is elected president next year, someone will have to be appointed to fill that Senate seat. Guess who is being mentioned as her replacement? Yes — don’t tell the kids! — good old Ill-bay Inton-clay.

As you may already know, I’m not joking, though I admit I can hardly believe I’m serious. I think this would be the first time a senator lived in the White House. I have to confess it does appeal to my sense of humor, like a favorite sitcom returning to the airwaves after a long absence. One more reason to vote for Hillary. But can the sequel ever match the original?

The Edwards Question

Another Oval Office aspirant, John Edwards, has refused to fire two staffers with long records of anti-Christian and anti-Catholic writings on their blogs. In this Age of Sensitivity, these harpies’ coarse cracks about Catholics, the Virgin Birth, and George Bush’s “Christofascist base” seem a little over the top, but Edwards is satisfied that “it was never their intention to malign anyone’s faith.” George Will, who has his own record of anti-Catholic venom (not for nothing is he the liberals’ favorite conservative), remarks on Edwards’s “smarmy insincerity.”

Let’s skip the etiquette and get to the point: What truths is John Edwards willing to affirm? If he doesn’t believe in God, Christ, the Virgin Birth, or the Catholic Church, or if he thinks they don’t really matter, his behavior makes sense.

If you have not seen SOBRANS, my monthly newsletter, yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample, or better yet, subscribe for two years for just $85. New subscribers get two gifts with their subscription. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.

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Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2007 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission

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