What he did instead was give the answer he had been prepared to deliver, a remarkably shallow one given the gravity of the issue.
After collecting himself, Kerry rattled off a celebrity laundry list?Nancy Reagan, Michael J. Fox, and (the now-departed) Christopher Reeve?and then made the bizarre claim that ?we have the option, which scientists tell us we do, of curing Parkinson?s, curing diabetes, curing, you know, some kind of a, you know, paraplegic or quadriplegic or, you know, a spinal cord injury, anything.? With not even one clinical trial under way involving embryonic stem cells, ?we? certainly don?t ?have the option? that Kerry suggests. (For more, see Robert P. George in NRO.)
Hitting an even lower low moments later, Kerry fielded a question about taxpayer funding of abortion. After spending a moment lavishing ?respect? on the questioner, Kerry said, ?Religion has been a huge part of my life. It helped lead me through a war.?
Only Kerry could turn an abortion question into a Vietnam answer.
When he finally found time to answer the woman?s question directly, the lifelong Catholic made a startling policy statement: poor women have a Constitutional right to taxpayer-funded abortions. (Bush, though, failed to respond to that point.) The Supreme Court has never declared that poor women have a Constitutional right to a taxpayer-funded abortion, and only the die-hard abortion rights activists share this view.
Rebutting President Bush?s response to that same question moments later, Kerry flat-out lied. In attempting to cast parental consent as a complex, nuanced issue, he raised the specter of incest: ?With respect to parental notification, I'm not going to require a 16-or 17-year-old kid who?s been raped by her father and who?s pregnant to have to notify her father.?
Only one problem with Kerry?s answer: every parental consent law has a judicial bypass, meaning a teen girl fearing abuse can bypass parental consent or notification by going to a judge, because the Supreme Court said so in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. Kerry?s example, then, was a canard, plain and simple.
Seconds before using the incest red herring, Kerry uttered the words that most likely guide his overall philosophy: ?It?s just not that simple.?
But the question for Kerry that must be raised by the Bush campaign in the closing weeks is that when it comes to terrorism, bringing freedom to Iraqis, and promoting a culture of life, ?why not??
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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