Every four years, the mainstream press pounces on the Republican nominee, challenging him to retreat from the abortion plank of the Republican platform. The pro-life position is always treated as a terrible political liability.
So it was refreshing to see Tim Russert, of NBC's "Meet the Press," turn the tables a couple of weeks ago and probe the abortion views of the Democratic candidate, instead.
"Do you believe life begins at conception?" Russert asked. The vice president said: "No. I believe there is a difference." What sort of difference? Gore expanded a bit by saying he endorses Roe vs. Wade, a decision "that wisely embodies the kind of common sense judgment that most Americans share."
Is that responsive? Russert didn't tarry over that response. His quiver was groaning with further arrows. In 1987, then-Sen. Gore wrote to a constituent: "During my 11 years in Congress, I have consistently opposed federal funding of abortions. In my opinion, it's wrong to spend federal funds for what is arguably the taking of a human life."
It is not a crime to change one's mind, but Gore's explanation of his change of heart was so PC and mushy-headed that it really ought to offend even those to whom he is pandering. Here's what he told Russert: "Let me just say, I did change my position on issue of federal funding, and I changed it because I came to understand more from women -- women think differently than men."
Smelling salts anyone? What, women are more emotional, less rational than men are? Is that the Democratic position now? Or was the VP merely showcasing his acute sensitivity to the concerns of women? (By the way, women are about evenly divided on the question.)
When you are determined to toe the line no matter what, you can find yourself making very odd, almost brainless statements. And that's what happened next to Gore. Russert asked Gore whether he supported a federal statute that forbids executing a woman who is pregnant. "Well," Gore replied, "I don't know what the circumstances would be in that situation. I would -- you know, it's an interesting fact situation. I'd want to think about it."
Gore wasn't expecting such a question and can perhaps be excused for hesitating. But the following day, having presumably thought it over, Gore supplied reporters with what can only be called an absurdity. "I support the statute to spare that hypothetical person. It should be her right to choose."
They really ought to keep this videotape for campaign schools. It can serve as the cautionary tale about what can happen when you are determined to avoid thought at all costs and hide behind slogans.
What in the world was Gore saying? That the condemned woman should be offered the choice of carrying the child to term or going to the gallows pregnant? That even a convicted murderer should, if she is a woman, get the opportunity to make one more life-and-death decision?
What is the logic? There is no question here of the mother raising the child, so this isn't a matter of permitting women control over their lives. In point of fact, this hypothetical woman has lost complete control over her life -- she is about to lose it. The only question is whether her innocent, unborn child must be forced to share the same fate.
But Al Gore and all good pro-abortion types will say that the woman has absolute life or death rights over her unborn child -- even if the child could be placed with relatives or for adoption. That is the logic of the pro-abortion argument, and to be fair, it is not just Al Gore who subscribes to it. Liberal members of the House of Representatives showed cold hostility to a bill introduced last week by Rep. Charles Canady which would say simply that if a child happens to survive an attempted abortion (as several have, one of whom at age 23, testified in favor of the legislation), he or she should be treated as a person.
The pro-life movement is chip, chip, chipping away at the logic of our shameful laws on abortion. The doctrinaire responses of Democrats to questions that give ordinary people pause are highly revealing, and damaging to the pro-abortion cause.