The contrast between the abortion views of all four national nominees is so stark that it cannot help but become an issue. Not only because it is a hot-button for millions, but also because of what it says about the candidates’ willingness to level with the American people.
On Meet the Press this past Sunday, Senator Joe Biden said he believes life begins at conception, and this belief is shaped by his Catholic faith. But he also said he supports abortion rights because he will not impose his beliefs on others.
That is utterly absurd. Elected leaders are elected to impose their views on us on all manner of issues.
For those, like me, who grew up in the Midwest clinging to their bible and gun, I offer some simple logic. If an elected leader believes it is wrong to steal, then he votes to make theft illegal. If he has a religious faith that teaches it is wrong to steal, then that faith influences his belief. That religious belief does not in the slightest de-legitimize his vote. If he shares his beliefs with the voters, then he should vote accordingly.
I am sure Mr. Biden believes it is wrong to steal. And that it is wrong to murder, to assault someone, or to abuse a child. The Catholic Church teaches that all those things are wrong. Yet would Mr. Biden vote to keep those things illegal? I am sure he would. He would not refrain from voting by saying he ought not to impose his beliefs on others.
We all have beliefs regarding right and wrong that do not involve criminal sanctions. If you believe it is wrong to commit adultery or to lie, then you are willing to express that belief. Mr. Biden did not refuse to condemn John Edwards’ cheating on his wife, Elizabeth, when that adulterous affair became a media story last month. You did not hear him say that he ought not to impose his views on others.
Refusing to answer such questions is like voting “present” instead of yes or no in the Illinois legislature. Voting present simply affirms that you are there in the chamber, but refuse to make a decision. Not exactly a profile in courage.
The very idea of such a dodge is so ludicrous for anyone who claims the title of “leader” that it left Rudy Giuliani, himself a strong and decisive leader, laughing during his prime-time speech during the Republican convention. When you elect a president, or a governor, or a mayor, you expect them to take stands, make decisions and see them through. An executive who refuses to decide will be run out of office by the voters.
Contrast their statements with the responses of the Republican nominees. When asked about when life begins, instead of meandering off on some professorial monologue that ended with a dodge, Senator John McCain’s answer was two simple words: “at conception.” Even though Mr. McCain reaches out to moderate and independent voters, many of whom support abortion rights, he never equivocates on his belief that life begins at conception, and therefore that the unborn should be protected by the law.
Governor Sarah Palin’s answer is even more meaningful, because she answers with actions instead of words. She and her husband, Todd, knew their unborn baby would have Down syndrome, and they welcomed him as a wonderful gift from God.
The American people want moral clarity. They want leaders who know what they believe and are unashamed to stand on their convictions. Regardless of voters’ personal beliefs on abortion, they should prefer candidates who level with them and act according to those beliefs, rather than dodges and inconsistencies.