Today's conventional wisdom holds that the upcoming presidential election is about one thing: The economy, stupid. But the events of the last week -- from the Komen kerfuffle to the Obama administration's shameful violation of the First Amendment -- demonstrate that the Left hasn't taken a jobs-focused holiday from waging the culture war. On this score, the videos I've embedded below couldn't be timelier. Earlier this week, I had the honor of attending a gala celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Susan B. Anthony list, an influential pro-life organization. The event featured two first-term US Senators and ascendant leaders within the conservative movement, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Marco Rubio of Florida. Abortion is a polarizing and complex issue that arouses strong passions on both sides, and many Americans hold conflicted views on the legality and morality of the practice. In recent years, polling data has shown a gradual but unmistakable shift toward anti-abortion views, especially among younger voters, and Senators Ayotte and Rubio are great champions of that emerging pro-life generation.
Opposition to abortion is often cast as an extreme and “anti-women” position by its advocates, a gross distortion that ignores both public opinion generally, and the views of millions of women (not to mention the fact that future women bear the brunt of global gendercide). Abortion “rights” supporters also attempt to cast pro-lifers as religious zealots trying to “impose their beliefs” on their fellow citizens. These criticisms miss the mark as well. First, virtually every single law and regulation in existence represents an imposition of values onto society. Such is the very nature of law. Second, while some abortion critics are guided exclusively by their faith, many others would argue that their beliefs are rooted in logic, a widely held sense of ethics and morality, and sound science. Senator Rubio used his keynote address at the SBA List gathering to build a pro-life case based on the latter set of criteria. The full speech is worth your while -- this guy is really special -- but if you're pressed for time, Rubio presents the crux of his argument in the second clip:
On a political level, this address showcases Rubio's talent and promise as a future leader. He spoke passionately and eloquently on a difficult subject with limited notes, at which he rarely even glanced. He staked out a bold position without sounding extreme, a difficult needle to thread when tackling hot button controversies. In short, there's a reason "rising star" buzz and speculation surrounds this guy. On a higher level, Rubio mounted a compelling and persuasive case, dispensing with numerous fallacies advanced by the "choice" cult. Especially salient were his discussions of the unsettled nature of pre- and postpartum viability, and the "unwanted" child logical canard -- as well as his contemplation of the conflicting rights conundrum that abortion raises. The shrillest advocates on both sides of this issue often fail to recognize or convey how complicated it is, and can sometimes sound out-of-touch with how most Americans grapple with the question's many intricacies. In this speech, Rubio advanced a nuanced and thoughtful case for life. Bravo.
Parting thought: As the Komen fight reached a boiling point this week, many conservatives (myself included) made donations to the charity because we hate cancer, and because we wanted to affirm the organization's decision to cut ties with a truly vile group. Under relentless bullying from the pro-abortion Left, the charity quasi-reversed its decision. Ed Morrissey explains that their new policy will still cut off most future grants to Planned Parenthood (after all, most chapters don't offer the screenings Komen is funding), but their letter of apology was an obvious kowtow to abortion zealots. Rod Dreher rightly frames the ruthless anti-Komen campaign as clarifying evidence of a malignant and perverse liberal blacklist:
Of course I support anybody’s right to withhold money or approval from any organization for any reason. But let’s just be clear what’s going on here. Komen broke ranks, and for the cultural left, that cannot be understood, forgiven, or overlooked; Komen must be ruined. Nothing Komen or Nancy Brinker has ever done for women in 30 years matters to these people. This is war...The more I think about it, the more I realize this is a clarifying moment. Think of it! Three decades of service to women fighting breast cancer, and having raised and distributed
hundreds of millions of dollarsnearly $2 billion towards that goal, means absolutely nothing to these people now trying to destroy Komen. They could have denounced Komen’s decision, but in light of all Komen has done, and still does for women, turned their ire on the Republicans, the Religious Right, and so forth. But no, Komen broke ranks, and it must be dealt with harshly. And the sympathetic mainstream media is helping them do the job. All this reminds one of exactly what we’re dealing with here: what John Paul II called the culture of death. It is helpful to be reminded which side you’re on.
Indeed. Which is why speeches like Rubio's are so important, and why even in the throes of a dreadful economic downturn, some issues must not be discarded or ignored, no matter how inconvenient or "off message" they may seem.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography