What may be somewhat lost is Rod's blogging today is that he has made abundantly
clear what values are negotiable when his social conservatism conflicts with his economic, erm, populism: the most important issues to most social conservatives, abortion and marriage.
I dunno, this 2008 election is going to be interesting for me as a social conservative. I've got no natural candidate to support -- unless Huckabee and/or Brownback get all Smoove B on me -- and I would by no means rule out voting for Giuliani. Like Ross says, social and religious conservatives are a lot more complicated than our opponents give us credit for. Giuliani (and for that matter, Obama) is far from my ideal on the issues. But with Giuliani, he's tough and innovative, and he's absolute right on law and order issues. I think Bush was the last hurrah for the social right regarding substantially changing abortion policy at the federal level, and for passing a constitutional amendment to prevent SCOTUS from declaring gay marriage. And frankly, I am incapable of believing the pandering of Republican politicians to my side on these issues. The war and its aftermath is more acutely important right now, and Giuliani has not been on the right side here. Still, I would trust him infinitely more than I would trust Hillary Clinton. [emphasis mine]
"I think Bush was the last hurrah for the social right regarding substantially changing abortion policy at the federal level, and for passing a constitutional amendment to prevent SCOTUS from declaring gay marriage. And frankly, I am incapable of believing the pandering of Republican politicians to my side on these issues."
So far, I believe Gina Dalfonzo from Chuck Colson's Breakpoint blog
is the only one to have noticed this and to have commented:
Congratulations, Rod. You've finally done it. You've completely floored me. How wonderful to know we don't have to bother trying to find and support pro-life, pro-marriage candidates anymore, because Bush was the last hurrah.
Whatever that means.
himself, somewhat lamely:
I'm not saying I like it, or that we should have to find and support candidates who believe what we social conservatives believe. What I'm saying, though, is that if we couldn't get this stuff through with Bush as president and the Republicans holding both houses of Congress, then I find it unlikely that we'll ever get it through -- especially, on the marriage question, given that young adults by and large have no problem with gay marriage.
Like I said, I don't like it, but I think that's where we are.
I believe he means that he's not saying that we shouldn't
have to find and support politicians who oppose abortion and the redefinition of marriage, but why should we bother if he thinks the cause is hopeless?
He betrays what I believe to be an unjustifiable pessimism: Rod says our chances are slim for "substantially changing abortion policy at the federal level." First, somebody should explain to him that we can't change abortion policy at any other level
because of Roe v. Wade.
Second, someone should explain that, though the pro-life movement suffered a 7-2 defeat with Roe, we now have four
originalists -- Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito -- who would likely overturn Roe because it was an atrocious decision. Furthermore, of the five oldest
members of the court, three are liberal (Stevens, 86; Ginsberg, 73; Breyer, 68) and the 70-year-old Kennedy is considered a swing vote. Is it impossible or even unlikely for Bush's successor to shape the court so that it has the five originalists needed to overturn Roe? Hardly.
As with Iraq, Rod displays an incredible lack of resolve: that young adults are generally less opposed to redefining marriage is hardly a reason to give up -- or in Rod's case, to make the issue unimportant in deciding who to support in a presidential race.
On the issue of marriage, I agree that the moment has probably passed for an amendment to preempt
a SCOTUS ruling mandating gay marriage. Does that make the composition of the court any less important? Does that make an amendment after such a ruling an impossibility? Put simply, does that mean that we can have no further effect on the legal definition of marriage, so that we should set aside that issue to support someone who is utterly opposed to our position?
Thank God that those who led the pro-life movement in the first years after Roe were made of sterner stuff than Rod here.
Further, Rod displays a sort of ideological purity that is positively counter-productive. He says that he is "incapable of believing the pandering of Republican politicians to my side on these issues." Suppose his distrust is justified: let's suppose both parties' leadership holds our positions in contempt and consider us to be women-hating homophobes. Is it better to vote for a Democrat who's sincere in their opposition to us, or to elect a Republican who, pandering or not, will
advance our cause, however slightly?
All of this was a long time coming. After all, he supported the pro-choice liberal Joe Barton because of his position on the environment; he gallingly redefined
what it means to be pro-life to justify supporting abortionists because of their position on Iraq; and he made clear his belief that rank-and-file Republicans are homophobes
with him on the issue of marriage.
I wrote in July that I believe he's been just begging the Democrats to moderate on abortion and secularism, that he would gladly leap into their arms if only they would moderate their positions. It appears that I gave him too much credit. Let's ignore his supporting the Dems in November because he wanted to punish the DC Republicans: as I pointed out before, Rod praised
Obama back in June for his speech on religion, but Al Mohler rightly
pointed out that the speech offered nothing more than "secularism with a smile." Now, Rod's praising Obama because he could "admit that his mind was changed by a religious conservative." His mind was changed on what, his policy position on abortion? Certainly not, Obama's support of abortion on-demand is unchanged, it's just that he's moderated his rhetoric to emphasize "fair-minded words."
Wrap the iron hand of radicalism in the velvet glove of civil speech, and that's good enough for Rod.
Even that may not be needed, though, because now Rod is throwing overboard two of the key issues of social conservatism, giving them up as lost causes to justify his support of social liberals.
Insofar as a coherent ideology can be determined, perhaps Rod is more accurately described as some variant of the paleoconservative than as a liberal. But on economic matters, his vague populism has not distinguished itself from socialism: perhaps the distributism of E.F. Schumacher differs from traditional socialism in that it wants the state to command the economy in novel ways.
On international matters, his talk about our being in a generational war and needing a tough foreign policy hardly amounts to an actual idea for winning that war; if he can call Iraq a "meat grinder" despite a casualty rate that's ridiculously low compared to the rest of history, it's hard to see how his attitudes are any less suicidal
than the Left's politically correct multiculturalism; and, ultimately,
his disagreements with Ted Kennedy and Jane Fonda didn't stop him from supporting the Democrats in November, did it?
He even takes for granted the assumptions of the Left: the dire state of the environment; the near infallibility of the mainstream press; "the fraud, the mendacity" of the Bush Administration for getting us into a war on "dubious pretenses;" and even the slander that mainstream conservatives are godless materialists who gave Bush their uncritical
support until late 2005.
With his justifying an abandonment of opposition to abortion and the redefinition of marriage to support liberals -- demanding little more than talk about community and a more civilized rhetoric to justify their radicalism -- I must say, he may not be a liberal, but he might as well be.
What's the difference, other than his being able to broadcast commentaries on NPR as a disenchanted conservative? What does it matter?
His journey to liberalism, predicted by Jonah Goldberg less than a year ago, is complete, for all practical purposes. He will support liberals and their causes, and ultimately no disagreement with them will amount to anything substantive, to say nothing of actual opposition.