Richard W. Garnett, a professor of law and associate dean at the Notre Dame Law School, differs with me on whether Governor Daniels is supportable by pro-lifers.
Garnett’s pro-life and like many other pro-lifers is defending comments by Daniels about a “truce” on social issues like abortion. Garnett wrote at National Review and was kind enough to send us the link of his thinking on the subject.
Here’s some highlights of the piece:
Many of those who criticize Governor Daniels’s use of “truce” seem to think — incorrectly, in my view — that it reflects a lack of pro-life commitment on his part or a dangerous naïveté about the real-world political and other battles that elected officials — including the president — have to fight, in order to help us become the political community that we should be, that is, a political community in which unborn children are welcomed in life and protected in law…
It seems to me, though, that if we look at Governor Daniels’s record — in particular, his record on judicial appointments — we don’t find any reason to think that “truce” means for him “caving on the merits” or “downgrading the seriousness of the issue.” He does not strike me as one of those — and, of course, there are those — who thinks that our politics would be better if only the irritating pro-lifers would get out of politics, or who imagines that there is a future for a Republican party that wavers or backtracks, in order to seem “moderate,” on such a basic, fundamental human-rights question.
Like Yuval, I would prefer that Governor Daniels add a sentence — one that, I believe, reflects his views, record, and plans — along the lines of “but if a fight is forced on us, I would obviously want (or be) a president who stands up for the sanctity of human life.”
Daniels is a curious case, I’ll admit.
So often with politicians their deeds fall short of their rhetoric. Daniels is odd in that his rhetoric doesn’t seem to live up to his deeds.
But Daniels is saying what he’s saying. We can fill our minds with things we think our candidates mean and not take them at their word but isn’t that how we ended up with Barack Obama as President? Many thought Obama didn’t actually mean that comment about redistributing the wealth or that business about being “punished with a baby.” Guess what, he did.
When viewing a candidate one must weigh their words and deeds. Both are crucial in determining if one can vote for a candidate. In fact, it’s all we have.
In some ways, Daniels is the Bizarro Mitt Romney. While Romney’s words at this stage in his life are all excellent and I often agree with him, his past actions such as his pro-choice stance and his pushing of RomneyCare disturb me. Daniels’ past actions on the other hand are all commendable on social issues but his current rhetoric scares me.
We can all agree that Daniels has a quality pro-life voting record as Governor. But Daniels is talking about how the next President of the United States should declare some kind of “truce” on social issues. That’s what he’s saying now.
Professor Garnett’s addition of an imaginary caveat to Daniels’ talking points identifies the problem with Daniels’ comments. But Daniels didn’t add the sentence. I am doing Daniels the courtesy of taking him at his word.
And this isn’t a one time thing a politician said off the cuff. He’s repeated this many times. I believe this is an election strategy pure and simple. He wants to highlight the economic issues which are currently polling his way and mute the social issues which divide the country. His consultants likely believe that because of his excellent pro-life record he can get away with such a thing. And hey, it might work.
It seems somewhat faulty strategy to me in that it appears to me to be a general election strategy in primary season. A significant part of Republican primary voters believe the life issue is THE issue. Not one of many. And they’ll ask themselves if Daniels is willing to put aside the social issues during a campaign, why not during his Presidency? They’ll say they don’t see how a healthy economy does dead babies much good.
Ironically, I believe the greatest thing that could happen to our economy is more children. So for me, if you want to help the economy, champion the unborn.