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Never-Trumper bummed that by opposing Hyde Amendment, Biden has lost “fig leaf” of moderation on abortion

by | Jun 12, 2019

By Dave Andrusko

As the preliminaries pick up speed in the run up to the 2020 presidential election, those Republicans who were/are/and forever will be Never-Trumpers find themselves in a bind. Presumably at some level, they do not want whomever the Democrats nominate to win. Yet they are desperate that President Trump be a one-term president.

Which leads to the opening paragraph in a recent opinion piece written by Michael Gerson for the Washington Post that ran under the headline “Abortion lobby could help re-elect Trump.”

Much of what follows won’t make sense unless you understand Gerson really, really, really hates Trump.

Gerson’s lamentation begins

WASHINGTON — One of the largest obstacles to the defeat of President Donald Trump in the 2020 election is the radicalism of the Democratic Party on the issue of abortion. By forcing Joe Biden to abandon his support for the Hyde Amendment — which currently prevents the funding of abortions through Medicaid — the abortion lobby and activist liberals have taken the first, major step toward reelecting Trump.

A few thoughts.

Former United States senator and Vice President Biden has used his support for the Hyde Amendment as a shield against the charge that he is as much in the back pocket of Planned Parenthood and NARAL as the typical Democrat, including the slew of Democrats running for President. Gerson is correct when he writes

The Hyde Amendment has played a particularly important role for Catholic politicians. It has allowed them to draw a distinction between permitting abortion and promoting it. Supporting the amendment has let them claim neutrality on abortion even while being effectively pro-choice.

Support for Hyde, it is suggested near the end, allows Biden “to live with his Catholic conscience.” Question: if a politician slavishly adheres to the abortion lobby’s position on every other agenda item, how loud must that officeholder’s conscience be barking if it can be silenced with one vote out of a gazillion?

And to be clear, there are many other ways to promote abortion besides opposing the Hyde Amendment. It is just that the Hyde Amendment is the most visible expression of a constant in American politics: the public does not want its tax dollars paying for abortions. Period.

Gerson then offers a history of how the two parties have taken up rival position on either side of the cultural divide over abortion. But the public is in neither camp, we’re instructed.

But if you look at the Gallup numbers Gerson references, a better way of understanding them is that a majority of the public–typically around 53%–say abortion should be legal in only a few circumstances (35%) or no circumstances (18%). That is why pro-abortionists are forever bringing up excuses/rationalizations for (say) late, late term abortions that are either untrue or apply to a tiny fraction of the cases.

Here’s Gerson’s final paragraph, which is truly interesting:

Joe Biden’s traditional position on this issue — that there should be a difference in government’s role in “the first day and the ninth month” — could effectively appeal to a country with these views. And his opposition to federal funding of abortion was one of the last remaining ways for a Democratic politician to tell Catholics (and others) that their ethical concerns have some degree of merit. Now a Democratic presidential nominee is not allowed even a hint of reticence. Abortion must be supported and funded as a positive good.

Presumably, the quote is from what Biden said in 2012 to “On the Issues” when he and Obama were running for re-election. But that was seven years ago.

Is that still Biden’s position, assuming it ever truly was ? If it is, will it still be when NARAL and Planned Parenthood and his fellow Democrats running for President turn up the heat? If he folded over the easiest, most convenient cover issue—federal funding—it is highly unlikely Biden would stay the course on tougher abortion-related issues.

In truth, Gerson’s lament is that the “abortion lobby and activist liberals” have taken away Biden’s last remaining “fig leaf” of moderation on abortion. More specifically, pro-abortion Democrats (which, of course, is what Biden is) are not to be “allowed even a hint of reticence.” And more specifically yet, “Abortion must be supported and funded as a positive good.”

That is the position of today’s Democrat Party. It should come as no surprise. Support for unfettered abortion is (what passes for) the heart and soul of the party. Long ago Biden attempted to make his separate peace with abortion. The difference today is his rivals will no longer let him pretend he is a “different Democrat” on abortion.

Categories: Joe Biden