So much has been written about the plethora of candidates running for President in 2016, particularly the mass of bodies on the Republican side. They are falling all over themselves looking for every possible vote, particularly in the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire (and don’t get me started on the inordinate amount of influence those two pukey little states exert).
The candidates are attending every convention imaginable to convince that small block of special interests that they love that group dearly and will fight every day to promote their interests if they get into the White House. And, to be fair, the Democratic candidates are doing the same thing (p.s., I still don’t think Hillary is a lock).
So, it was no surprise when most of the GOP candidates recently flew down to New Orleans to kiss butt at the National Right to Life Committee’s national convention. The goal, of course, was to convince the attendees that they would be the “most pro-life President” they ever saw. Showing shrewd political acumen, the president of the NRLC, Carol Tobias, warned the convention goers that “the quickest way to defeat a pro-lifer is to fall in love with your candidate and then get your feelings hurt when they don’t win the nomination.”
Anyway, here are some highlights from the candidate’s speeches:
Former Senator Rick Santorum (PA) reminded the audience that he sponsored the federal law that banned the so-called “partial birth abortion.” Actually, I do have to give him some credit here because he really was the lead guy on that issue. Indeed, he hounded me and the pro-choice movement in general for years. “You know me; there’s no quit in this dog,” he said. “Go ahead and nominate somebody who’s just going to go along. Then try to convince yourself you’ll make a difference” (I’ve read that line several times and still don’t know what it means).
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry reminded folks that the next president might get to nominate as many as four Supreme Court justices — who could presumably overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationally. “If I have the opportunity to put justices on the Supreme Court, they will not be squishy,” said Perry. Okay, that’s pretty clear, huh?
Florida Senator Marco Rubio explained his opposition to abortion as “inseparable from the effort to reclaim the American dream … for every child,” and recalled abortion restrictions he helped pass as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. By the way, my money is on Rubio getting the nomination.
Jeb Bush, whose tenure as Florida governor overlapped Rubio’s speakership, mentioned some of the same laws in a video presentation, as he did not physically attend the convention. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who has never held elected office, blasted abortion providers as “evil.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie supported abortion rights earlier in his career, but he is now getting close to toeing the party line. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker celebrated passage of a new state ban on most abortions beyond the 20th week of pregnancy. Yet late in his 2014 re-election campaign, he aired an ad in which he affirmed his abortion opposition while emphasizing that Wisconsin law “leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has sponsored a ban on abortions after 20 weeks but some conservatives blast him for voting to confirm Obama’s two Supreme Court nominees.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal talked Thursday night about having to defend his anti-abortion stance in his interviews for medical school and Donald Trump, the flavor of the moment, did not attend but he also seems to have switched from his previous pro-choice position. He probably does support abortion for illegal immigrants, however.
The bottom line is that, should any of these candidates win the presidency, they will be under intense political pressure to nominate a pro-life justice or two or three when the time comes. And therein lies the future of abortion rights in this country.
Every four years we hear how the next election is the most important election in our lifetimes. Well, look at the age of the justices. There ain’t no way that all of them will survive another four years. All hyperbole aside, this election may actually be the most important in our lifetimes.