There is nothing like the prospect of losing to focus one's mind. That might explain the dynamic at work in the East Room of the White House on the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. After President Bush's brief remarks, the first response I heard from pro-life leaders and activists was, "Wow." And the second. And the third. The president was interrupted by applause so often he was barely able to deliver his remarks. And once it was over, he was so electrified by the crowd that he worked the room as if it were a political rally -- something I've never seen at one of these quick, official, fairly routine events.
Across town an hour or so later, another pro-life gathering was being held at the Family Research Center. Here, Bush was being criticized for his lack of leadership -- there is more he could be doing, more he could have done. Fair enough. Each of the leading presidential candidates was also criticized for having either that same lack of leadership or a hostility to the anti-legal abortion position.
In separate conversations about the state of the presidential race, multiple well-informed conservatives told me of their affinity for Barack Obama. He's a likable guy. He has a sense of humor. He has a beautiful family. They hate the dirty tactics of the Clinton campaign against him -- using his middle name, Hussein, against him; whispering untrue rumors about his past; trying to hang him on confessions about his past.
All of this, understandably, makes Obama a rather sympathetic figure.
However, when pro-life conservatives flirt with a Democrat and beat up on Republicans -- including a president who has promoted a culture of life -- they ignore the stark political realities they face this cycle. I know I have also done my share of criticizing. There are some real concerns for a pro-lifer when looking at Rudy Giuliani, who is unapologetically pro-choice, or John McCain, who supports embryo-destroying stem-cell research. However, I also know what the alternative would mean.