Evangelicals and Fred Thompson

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I've written several times before about James Dobson's views on voting for pro-choice candidates. I've criticized his stance that he could never vote for Rudy Giuliani, on the grounds that such a stance is actually worse for the pro-life movement. I've pointed out an interesting irony: he is a pragmatist about seeking incremental change on abortion rather than insisting on complete change to his ideal state, but at the same time he won't rely on a similar pragmatism in terms of which candidate he'd support between a militant pro-choicer and a lukewarm and moderate pro-choicer with federalist and judicial conservative leanings. I've defended my view that a pro-lifer should be willing to vote for Giuliani if it comes down to a race between him and any of the leading Democratic candidates, insisting that such a view is not simply a matter of doing what leads to the best consequences, relying on the theoretical background of what I'm calling a moderate deontology in ethical theory.

Now I'm being puzzled by a strange new phenomenon. Evangelicals and religious right types who have said they could never vote for Giuliani seem to be flocking to Fred Thompson. Joe Carter is among them, and I suspect the Family Research Council in general is with this movement from Mitt to Fred. There's a suggestion that James Dobson and Focus on the Family are part of it. There seem to be others, many of whom, including Richard Land, who are not willing to endorse just yet but who are whispering about what a good candidate he is or telling people behind the scenes that they will eventually support him. Blogs for Fred was started by evangelicals who want to prevent a Giuliani nomination, run by some prominent evangelical bloggers (Joe Carter, Jared Bridges, Andrew Jackson, and Josh Claybourn).

Yet Fred Thompson is very clearly pro-choice. He's likely a bit more moderate than Giuliani, who in turn is more moderate than any of the Democratic candidates. But Thompson seems to support abortion in the first trimester, even if he thinks the federal government shouldn't be limiting states from passing laws against abortion. He thinks the right policy, as Giuliani does, is for states to allow it, although Thompson would limit later abortions, while Giuliani would not. Both are judicial conservatives of a sort, and both are federalists of a sort. Both would appoint justices similar to the ones Bush did. The only difference is one that would manifest itself only at the state level, which a president wouldn't have anything to do with, and since most abortions are in the first trimester even the state difference wouldn't make an overwhelming difference anyway. On this issue, I think pro-lifers might prefer Thompson to Giuliani. So what? If the reason to oppose Giuliani is that he's too pro-choice, I can't see how Thompson should be less pro-choice enough to support him over the many candidates who are solidly pro-choice, including recent converts who are honest about their conversion to the pro-life view, unlike Fred Thompson, who has been pretending all along that he's pro-life and always has been.

So this just mystifies me. I can see how someone would support either Giuliani or Thompson because they think other issues are more important the pro-life ones. But I can't see supporting Thompson while saying you can't support Giuliani if the only issue serving as the basis for that decision is abortion. Their views are nearly indistinguishable when it comes to the role of a president. So what's going on here? Is this just ignorance, perhaps willful ignorance, of Thompson's actual views? Is it wishful thinking? Or is there some sophisticated defense of condemning Giuliani for his views on one issue while supporting Thompson despite his nearly-identical views on the same issue?

12 Comments

While I agree with your points, you also need to look at the types of judges that Giuliani favors vs. the strict Constitutional constructionist judges Thompson favors. RvW will not be overturned at the executive branch, but at the judicial - and that's where Thompson pulls way ahead of Giuliani for the pro-lifer. Of course Thompson's nothing like Huckabee for Christian values, but Huckabee is likely unelectable.

Giuliani has said that he would appoint judges like those Bush has appointed. The names he's named for the Supreme Court are Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Scalia. Giuliani's judicial team includes such stalwart judicial conservatives as Ted Olson and Miguel Estrada. I haven't heard about Thompson on specifics, but I doubt he's going to be much different.

I doubt either would appoint strict constructionists, by the way. Perhaps you mean originalists or just judicial conservatives?

Does Thompson want judicial conservatives or outcome-oriented judges? If it's the latter, then Giuliani is preferable. If it's the former, then he won't be asking them if they'd overturn Roe v. Wade (as Bush didn't), and he's be in the same positition as Giuliani.

The problem with Huckabee is that he's the biggest spender in the bunch. I'm inclined toward compassionate conservatism and statecraft-as-soulcraft myself, but his record as governor is more like most Democrats in terms of spending. I much prefer Romney, who wouldn't be as fiscally conservative as Giuliani, but he agrees with me more on everything else than anyone in the bunch but Huckabee.

Sometimes individuals impute to a candidate the views they want the individual to hold, which in Thompson's case is probably easy since he represents himself (with support from some national groups) as a pro-life candidate despite being against criminalizing abortion (at least on the Federal level). I wonder if an embryonic stem cell bill or an abortion funding measure were presented to (President) Thompson if would take different action than (President) Giuliani?

I have trouble seeing how such a bill should make a difference. Both say they are federalists and don't want the federal government taking a stance on abortion, and therefore they shouldn't approve federal funding. They may differ on the state level. We know Giuliani approves of states funding abortion as a policy matter, and perhaps Thompson would not. If he did, he would limit it to first-trimester, since he'd oppose the legality of later-term abortions. But that doesn't make a difference on the federal level, where neither would have the federal government prohibiting or funding it.

As for stem-cells, I don't see how they should differ there either. If you allow abortion in the first trimester, why have a policy view against stem cells derived from killed embryos? I presume their federalism should prevent them from using federal funding for it. Giuliani says he supports to research, but I don't know if he says he'd fund it. Given his other views, he shouldn't. But I don't know what he says there. Presumably I could see either one contradicting their federalist stance on this one issue while the other doesn't, and that might make a difference. But it would be because of an inconsistency, and it would be one smaller difference between two people whose views are close enough that I have a hard time seeing how someone could be so opposed to one that they'd see it as immoral to vote for them while not just not opposing the other but advocating that person as the party candidate. A difference just on stem cells shouldn't be sufficient for that, even if it's sufficient for seeing one as better than the other.

There is an element of trust.

In Giuliani's political career he's supported abortion in his office as Mayor. He never made a decision that helped in the abortion fight.

In Thompson's political career he's supported the pro-life movement on every bill that came to the Senate floor.

Equating someone who helped the pro-life movement in the past (Thompson) to someone whose has never helped them (Giuliani) is unjustified.

I don't see how someone can trust Giuliani when in the only office he's held he was an abortion advocate. Thompson held office as an abortion foe.

Can you name anything Giuliani did as mayor that affected abortion either way? As far as I can tell, he simply doesn't care about the issue but says he's pro-choice because he thinks it's the majority view and thinks it will help get him elected. He's not motivated to pursue pro-choice measures, or he'd actually do it.

Thompson does repeatedly claim that he had a 100% rating with National Right to Life, but he's not telling the truth. They rate him at 87% for 1997-98, 78% for 1999-2000, and 33% for 2001-2002. If he's going to quote their numbers, he should make sure he's giving their actual numbers.

He probably decided to pick out which of the issues they list are going to count as genuine abortion issues. He probably did it based on the ones he thinks are really about abortion. That would be fine if he said so. But he keeps making it sound as if he comes out 100% according to the NRTL numbers, which suggests he's using their actual numbers. He's not.

That's enough right there to undermine his trustworthiness on abortion. If he has to be dishonest, it's a bad sign. All he'd have to do is point out the ones they counted as negatives were related to his support for McCain-Feingold, and he'd be honest. Of course he can't do that, because it's things like McCain-Feingold that are getting McCain's campaign killed. So he has to lie.

So I don't think the trust comparison holds up in the way you want it to. Given Thompson's clear deception on the issue, that already undermines trust in him. Add to it that he was publicly known as pro-choice at the time, with lots of statements demonstrating this (which can be found in the post I originally linked to in my post above), and I can't see how you could see his office-holding as much different from Giuliani's. But at least Giuliani is honest about his past positions.

Thompson’s and Giuliani’s positions on human life aren’t “nearly identical” at all and your post is pitifully void of both truth and political insight. But let me begin by commenting on your slanderous “James Dobson’s Betrayal,” linked within this present foolishness:

“we have a moral obligation to prefer someone who is closer to us on that issue than someone else who is further from us on the issue, even if we think both of them hold immoral views”
This is the exact opposite of the Christian View. It is the actions a politician takes, once in office, the ones we could reasonably predict, for which we each take personal moral responsibility. We gave him our vote knowing he would do it. He assumes exponentially magnified moral responsibility before God for evil done in office because of the position and we share that moral culpability and impending divine judgement on his acts if we had warning and voted for him, anyway.

When Stalin runs against Hitler it is our moral obligation to vote “no.”


It does not matter how talented he is or what a “good person” he is if we know he will use his skills to do destructive things in office.

It does not matter if he honestly thinks bad things are good things and, thus, has “good intentions.” We have no such excuse. We cannot, for instance, justify giving him power just because we like him personally or we feel sympathy that he was tortured by the Viet Cong or because we admire his IQ, or even if we can hypothesize some temporal political benefit.

Based on that, Rudi Giuliani and John McCain are very acceptable candidates for office… if they run as Democrats. They have both demonstrated, by both their positions and actions, that they are in the mainstream of Democrat thought on the most significant issues facing the future of the Nation. If elected, they would do liberal things that, no matter how “well motivated” would severely damage the country, as does all liberal policy, things that Democrats want.

Now, on to “Evangelicals and Fred Thompson:”

“He seems open to letting states decide.” This is ludicrous self-deception. There is no hint, in all of Giuliani’s career, that he respects (as opposed to “expertly uses”) the law, much less Constitutional Law, even less on his precious abortion rights. He stated, publicly in the debates, that he thinks it would be fine if his nominees for the Supreme Court upheld Roe vs. Wade. And they would.

“He worked in the Reagan Justice Department, which suggest some kind of judicial conservatism.” More obvious self-deception. It suggests no more than salient talent and being a Republican. Are you completely inexperienced?

“…he has gone on record supporting judicial nominees like Roberts and Alito, and he obviously isn't so dedicated to the pro-choice view that he'll let it affect anything else…”
He is totally dedicated to the pro-choice view. He supports FUNDING it with tax dollars.

“…staying home or voting for a third-party candidate strikes me as simply undermining the pro-life movement. Those who do that are working at cross-purposes with pro-life goals and are thus betraying the one thing they think is all-important.”
This, again, is the exact opposite of the truth at every level. When pro-choice liberals can get pro-life votes simply by running as Republicans, the pro-life movement is dead. No one can take it seriously. When the GOP sits down to decide what makes a “winning” candidate they will then always have to choose a pro-abortion choice candidate because he can get pro-life votes but a pro-life candidate can’t get pro-abortion votes. That is the nature of the war being waged, right now, for the soul of the GOP. It is the ostensibly Pro-life (or cosmetically pro-life) voters, like Jeremy, who can vote for pro-abotion, gay rights, open borders, gun-grabbing anti-justice liberals without a pang of conscience who are betraying anyone who has a shred of conservative blood running through their veins, not just pro-lifers.

That foolishness is also based on deep-seated naivete about how Party politics works. Even if Rudi has a few latent conservative ideas rattling around in the back of his mind, it will make no difference to the nationwide movement of Pro-abort liberals he empowers across the nation: in the RNC and the State Party mechanisms. Those cronys will snuff conservative candidates in all 50 states, empower judicial liberals, enact censorship against conservative challengers in primary battles, engage in ballot fraud and parliamentary cheating to destroy every vestige of the Reagan movement. He would set the movement on every conservative issue back 20 years.

That’s betrayal.

Regarding the “movement from Mitt to Fred” Anyone who supports or has supported Mitt Romney doesn’t have the discernment to be taken seriously. Mitt is to the right of Hillary in precisely the same sense that Hitler was to the right of Stalin. Not much of an improvement. “…recent converts who are honest about their conversion to the pro-life view…” I hope you’re not referring to Mitt Romney. “Honesty?” Please take the 20-Question Mitt Romney multiple-choice exam: http://www.thereaganwing.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=PagEd&file=index&page_id=718

“Yet Fred Thompson is very clearly pro-choice. He's likely a bit more moderate than Giuliani…” No Fred actually is “moderate” Rudi is pro-abortion and radically so. He supports funding it with tax dollars. So he is either a socialist who believes in the government funding EVERYTHING or he thinks that abortion is such a particularly good thing it deserves to be paid with dollars extracted, by force, from people who believe it to be morally wrong. Picture supporting prostitution with tax dollars for men who couldn’t afford it and then claiming, “I hate prostitution.” Where do you find people who will believe such things?

“both are federalists of a sort.” Nope. Rudi is no federalist at all, supporting, as he does the upholding of Roe v Wade, and Fred is a somewhat radical federalist who would work to overturn it. That’s clearly beyond Bush.

“He thinks the right policy, as Giuliani does, is for states to allow it,” This is untrue. Fred has never made a statement on what “the states” should do.

“Both would appoint justices similar to the ones Bush did.” Ding-dong, you’re wrong. Bush made it clear he had no idea what his apppointments thought about Roe vs Wade. Fred expects Justices to overturn it. Rudi doesn’t. Rudi, like Bush, would appoint a Harriet Miers. Fred is unique among the three in that he actually has the capacity to pick a constitutionalist. Neither Bush nor Rudi do… without the “help” of a grassroots uprising.
If Roberst and Alito turn out to be what we hope (and there is already considerable doubt) it is because Bush was literally forced into it by the Conservatives you accuse of “betraying” us.

“If the reason to oppose Giuliani is that he's too pro-choice…” Good grief, get a clue. The reason to oppose Giuliani is that he is a pro-abortion, cross-dressing gay rights activist who is liberal across the board: http://www.thereaganwing.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=PagEd&file=index&page_id=729

Except on a few, narrow issues. He and McCain might be the only Republicans running that could lose to Hillary.

You're saying we should prefer someone who's never helped us because the guy who has helped us isn't perfect?

I reserve the right to judge people's actions not just what they say to get elected. Of course RG is going to tell voters want they want to hear about the Supreme Court. Of course FDT is going to lie about his past. They're politicians.

The question is which liar has a history of helping us. The liar that helped us in the past is more reliable than the one that opposed us every chance he had.

Econ Grad Stud: Who said anything about preferring someone who's never helped us? Did I say that I'm endorsing Giuliani? All I said is that Giuliani and Thompson are similar enough that the reasons usually given by those who could never vote for Giuliani seem to me to apply to Thompson as well. That doesn't mean I'm personally going to prefer either one. As I've said many times, I'm leaning most strongly to Mitt Romney right now, and he has indeed favored pro-life concerns as governor. I'd rather choose the honest guy whose past fits with his honesty who favors the views I want to see favored than someone whose views are less good or someone who isn't honest about those views.

I also prefer an honest conservative though I've not settled on one yet.
I fail to see how actions don't have any impact on judging candidates though. That's the only way FDT with a mostly pro-life record and RG with a pro-choice record could be considered similar.

I'm of the belief that a politician's past actions are more instructive than what they say. Do you hold the opposite view of politicians?

Doug, I'm not going to return your vitriolic bile in kind, because two wrongs don't make a right. I thought about not publishing your comment, but it does make some substantive claims amidst all the name-calling, fact-twisting, and fallacious reasoning, so I thought it would be better to respond to what's there that's the sort of thing that can be responded to.

When Stalin runs against Hitler it is our moral obligation to vote “no.”

Yes, and anyone who can't see the difference between Rudy Giuliani and Hitler or Stalin needs a morality check. For that matter, anyone who can't see the difference between Hillary Clinton and Hitler or Stalin has some serious blinders on.

It does not matter how talented he is or what a “good person” he is if we know he will use his skills to do destructive things in office.

As I argued (which you didn't respond to), moral questions aren't always that simple. Sometimes an outcome of not acting can be bad enough that it's morally obligatory to do something you would otherwise think is wrong. You didn't address that at all. Since there are relatively uncontroversial examples of this (e.g. breaking into someone's cabin in the woods in order to save someone's life), you need to argue that even those examples are wrong or that these cases aren't like that. You didn't do either.

I never said good intentions are sufficient for voting for someone. That's a straw man.

Based on that, Rudi [sic] Giuliani and John McCain are very acceptable candidates for office… if they run as Democrats. They have both demonstrated, by both their positions and actions, that they are in the mainstream of Democrat thought on the most significant issues facing the future of the Nation. If elected, they would do liberal things that, no matter how “well motivated” would severely damage the country, as does all liberal policy, things that Democrats want.

How anyone can be so blinded as to think their stance of foreign policy is in the mainstream of Democratic thought is beyond me. Their judicial views, their views on the war, and their fiscal policies are well within the mainstream of the Republican party. McCain's social views are even within the mainstream of the Republican party. It's just on a few issues that he strays, most notably campaign finance and immigration. But both of those views are not uncommon among Republicans, even if not the mainstream, and Fred Thompson himself endorsed campaign finance reform. Giuliani is moderately liberal on social issues. He's not in favor of gay marriage, but many Democrats aren't either. He's not opposed to some restrictions on abortion, whereas the whole Democratic lineup thought the Supreme Court's upholding of the partial-birth abortion ban was downright evil. He's well within the Democratic party's views, but he's toward the more moderate end. But it's an outright lie to claim that his views in general are liberal. It's just his social views that are, and it's still worth noticing how much more conservative he is than any of the Democratic candidates.

“He seems open to letting states decide.” This is ludicrous self-deception. There is no hint, in all of Giuliani’s career, that he respects (as opposed to “expertly uses”) the law, much less Constitutional Law, even less on his precious abortion rights. He stated, publicly in the debates, that he thinks it would be fine if his nominees for the Supreme Court upheld Roe vs. Wade. And they would.

Why are you assuming that his views on federal laws and the Constitution would come out when he was mayor of a city, which isn't even yet at the state level?

What he said about Roe v. Wade could uncharitably be taken to mean that he approves of upholding Roe v. Wade if you ignore the immediate context. He also thinks it would be fine if they overturned it. That means he's not talking about what a judge's moral obligation would be. He's talking about whether he'd have a litmus test. He's saying he wouldn't. But most Republicans who are demonstrably pro-life wouldn't have a litmus test, because they don't think judicial appointments should be based on outcomes but on judicial philosophy. I see no reason to think Giuliani doesn't agree with that, and everything points toward him agreeing with that. Did you follow my link to his judicial team? If he can approve of Miguel Estrada, who was successfully filibustered by the Democrats in the Senate because they think he'd be too conservative (on abortion, for one issue), then I very much doubt he's going to try to appoint justices who will seek to uphold Roe v. Wade.

“He worked in the Reagan Justice Department, which suggest some kind of judicial conservatism.” More obvious self-deception. It suggests no more than salient talent and being a Republican. Are you completely inexperienced?

So would you worry about someone who worked in the Clinton Justice Department? If not, then I'll admit that you're consistent. Lawyers in the Justice Department are political appointees. They're not chosen for party affiliation, which is illegal (and the reason for the inquiries into the current Justice Dept.). They're chosen for their judicial views. Republicans appoint judicial conservatives, and Democrats appoint judicial liberals. Reagan had a certain agenda, and he wanted people who generally agreed with that agenda, which included moving in a more federalist, judicially minimalist direction. Overturning Roe v. Wade was part of that agenda. It's true that no every judge is on board with the whole agenda, but they're not going to hire someone who isn't in that direction. Since they can't look at political party, there has to have been something else that they saw in Giuliani. His record as an attorney does show accordance with a number of conservative ideals as well.

“…he has gone on record supporting judicial nominees like Roberts and Alito, and he obviously isn't so dedicated to the pro-choice view that he'll let it affect anything else…”
He is totally dedicated to the pro-choice view. He supports FUNDING it with tax dollars.

I believe that comment was about the state level, and I know it was about a certain subset of abortions, not abortion in general. I also don't know think he was campaigning for this, just indicating lack of opposition to it. There's a difference, and it shows how little he cares about it if he's not going out of his way to promote it but willing to go along with it if others do. I admit that that's not where I'd want him to be, but it's also not where you place him.

When pro-choice liberals can get pro-life votes simply by running as Republicans, the pro-life movement is dead. No one can take it seriously. When the GOP sits down to decide what makes a “winning” candidate they will then always have to choose a pro-abortion choice candidate because he can get pro-life votes but a pro-life candidate can’t get pro-abortion votes.

Yes, which is why I don't want to nominate Giuliani or Thompson for the GOP ticket. I think that would be bad for the party, and I think having no pro-life party would be bad for the nation.

It is the ostensibly Pro-life (or cosmetically pro-life) voters, like Jeremy, who can vote for pro-abotion, gay rights, open borders, gun-grabbing anti-justice liberals without a pang of conscience who are betraying anyone who has a shred of conservative blood running through their veins, not just pro-lifers.

Except that I never said I'd have no pangs of conscience. Overcoming the threshold against voting for such a candidate is no mean feat. It would take a Democratic candidate like the ones on the current slate of options for me to do it. But that looks like it's what we're going to get.

Also, Giuliani isn't open-borders. He's opposed this immigration stuff. That issue is much more vexed than you allow for, so I support neither side. But Giuliani isn't with McCain on it, and it's pretty deceitful to pretend he is, just as it's deceitful to pretend he's a liberal across-the-board.

Cosmetically pro-life? How is it cosmetically pro-life to prefer a candidate who will do less damage to the pro-life cause than one who will do more damage to it? That's just plain pro-life. It's just a different view on the best way to promote that view. It allows for doing something to prevent a terrible candidate by voting for a lackluster one (on that issue, anyway; other issues will tip the balance anyway). The view you're proposing amounts to a willingness to allow the terrible candidate to avoid the lackluster one. I just can't agree with that, even if your intentions are good. But as you said, intentions don't cut it.

So exactly how is it that a vote for Rudy counts as support for voter fraud? I'm not following.

On to Mitt Romney, then. Your quiz isn't exactly honest. Mitt Romney met with a gay rights crowd during the Senate election when he took on Ted Kennedy. He said outright that he couldn't support gay marriage to that group. I see no reason to think he's changed on that issue, especially given his strong support for the amendment in Massachusetts while he was governor. It may be that he thought the amendment a last resort due to runaway judges. So if he said he couldn't support such an amendment when he was running for governor, that's understandable. It's not exactly the sort of thing that belongs in a constitution.

On civil unions, I know he opposed that as governor. He did at one point support domestic partnership benefits, as any decent person should. Gay people have kids, you know. It's pretty evil to insist that their families not be counted as families and be treated unfairly when it comes to such basic matters of health. That doesn't require recognizing their union as a marriage or giving all the legal benefits of marriage, although I see no reason why not. On this issue, I would say that Romney is too conservative, but no one's perfect. He's closer to what I'd want than any of the rest of the candidates.

On gun issues, you can be a member of an organization you don't agree with on everything. I am. I'm a Republican for instance, and I don't support that stupid marriage amendment they tried to pass through, which has no business being in the Constitution and had no chance of passing to begin with, showing it to be a merely political stunt that wasted time and tax dollars when they could have been doing something more important. But I agree with the party enough that I affiliate for the purpose of being allowed to vote in primaries. Why couldn't someone be a member of the NRA while not agreeing with everything they do?

Several of the issues you point out on the quiz are simply changes of mind. You seem to treat it as if anyone coming to a different view is immoral. Last I knew, we wanted to try to convert people to a pro-life view, but you seem to want to disallow such converts from serving in public office, which would mean not supporting Thompson who now claims to be pro-life (although he's pretending he always was) and not supporting Reagan (who had no time in office to demonstrate his change of mind, something Romney has indeed had) or George H.W. Bush (who "changed his mind" purely to get on Reagan's ticket but did indeed serve as a pro-life president when his time came, presumably because he was won over to it while vice-president by being surrounded with pro-lifers who convinced him of the position).

Romney's position on embryos is in fact the morally right one. I've written about this before several times, but it's hard to distinguish between using stem cells from embryos who are being killed when we use body parts from people who are dying all the time. It doesn't take endorsing someone's death as good or morally ok to use their organs to save people's lives. This is perfectly consistent with thinking it was wrong to kill the person and with thinking it would be wrong to kill someone just to get the organs.

Pointing out that liberal Republicans became Democrats during his tenure speaks only to his willingness to defend conservative views that they were offended enough at to change parties.

Being a solid social conservative doesn't amount to being a Jesse Helms. I do consider Romney a solid social conservative and a moderate in other respects. His health care plan isn't exactly extreme fiscal conservatism. He's much more in line with the moderate Republican position that federal money can be used for good based on conservative methods and the conservative goal as statecraft-as-soulcraft that moderate conservatives on this issue (e.g. George W. Bush, George Will) take. I think it's the correct view, in fact. But it's not Jesse Helms, who is also worth distancing from for a number of other issues (not least racial ones).

Several of your claims are purely unsubstantiated and without context, and I don't think you've done your job in presenting them, so I see no need to respond to them. I'm familiar enough with some of them, though, that I wanted to say something. I see at the bottom that this quiz comes from MassResistance, so it's not at all surprising that it's out of context, unsourced, deceitful, and manipulative in ways that I couldn't approve of. Most of what that organization has been doing is like that.

He supports funding it with tax dollars. So he is either a socialist who believes in the government funding EVERYTHING or he thinks that abortion is such a particularly good thing it deserves to be paid with dollars extracted, by force, from people who believe it to be morally wrong.

False dilemma. A third option is that he thinks it's a bad thing that people have a right to and that those who have a right to it still have a right to it even if they can't afford it, which means a state or city can fund it in those instances. This is in fact a fairly common view among pro-choicers, and it involves neither approving of abortion as good or approving of state funding of everything anyone might want to get money for.

Rudi [sic] is no federalist at all, supporting, as he does the upholding of Roe v Wade, and Fred is a somewhat radical federalist who would work to overturn it. That’s clearly beyond Bush.

I'm not going to re-respond to the main claim, which I've already said enough about. But Bush? Bush is the only Republican president since Roe v. Wade who has consistently appointed conservative justices to the Supreme Court. Since that's the primary thing a president can do to overturn Roe v. Wade, it's completely nuts to think he hasn't worked to overturn it. It's true that he hasn't asked potential nominees whether they would overturn it, but his views on judicial philosophy have led him to pick people he thinks would overturn it, and I'm sure that's one of his ultimate goals, even if he thinks it would be wrong to ask them about individual cases.

“He thinks the right policy, as Giuliani does, is for states to allow it,” This is untrue. Fred has never made a statement on what “the states” should do.

No, because he doesn't want to admit his views. But he's made statements in the past that he wouldn't want to restrict someone from having an abortion by law in the first trimester. His most recent was this year on Hannity and Colmes. Sean Hannity cut him off before he finished the sentence, but it was very clear where he was going. See the link at the top of the post. I suspect you didn't bother looking at the actual evidence I was pointing to, which is overwhelming.

“Both would appoint justices similar to the ones Bush did.” Ding-dong, you’re wrong. Bush made it clear he had no idea what his apppointments thought about Roe vs Wade. Fred expects Justices to overturn it. Rudi [sic] doesn’t. Rudi [sic], like Bush, would appoint a Harriet Miers. Fred is unique among the three in that he actually has the capacity to pick a constitutionalist. Neither Bush nor Rudi [sic] do… without the “help” of a grassroots uprising.

Does Fred Thompson say he'd have a litmus test for abortion and that he would ask his potential nominees how they would rule on particular cases? Really? He's going to have a hard time finding anyone, since the judicial culture is not to answer such questions.

As far as I can tell, Rudy's view is the same as Bush's. He listed names that indicate that. He said he wouldn't have a litmus test, which Bush said. It's true that he won't be motivated by wanting people who would overturn it, but they both have indicated similar views on judicial philosophy. It's possible Rudy would hope someone with that judicial philosophy wouldn't overturn it, while Bush would hope they would, but you're not going to be able to predict that for sure, so I don't see how it makes a huge difference. I'd general prefer Bush on this issue, but I don't see how it makes a difference in whether I could vote for someone (as opposed to who I would prefer, which is a different question).

As for Harriet Miers, what the frak are you talking about? The woman is obviously pro-life. The problem with her would be that she has no judicial philosophy and would vote for conservative positions in a result-oriented way, thus arriving at positions I'd support but not for the right reasons. It would allow for sometimes not doing what the Constitution requires but what would be a good result. But that doesn't amount to being pro-choice. There were some out-of-context statements that she made years before she was involved with the current administration that reveal little to begin with that some conservatives worried about, but they say nothing about what she believes now (which is surely well-known to Bush, who approves of her) and weren't all that clear even then.

If Roberst and Alito turn out to be what we hope (and there is already considerable doubt) it is because Bush was literally forced into it by the Conservatives you accuse of “betraying” us.

First of all, I have no doubt about either. They are both solid conservatives of a particular sort. They are incrementalists who favor deciding particular cases over making sweeping judgments that goes beyond those cases. This makes them less likely to overturn badly-decided precedent than someone like Thomas or even Scalia (who is less likely than Thomas). But there's something to be said for that sort of view. I do think Roberts and Alito are a little too conservative on some issues. They have little appreciation for some purely factual issues on race, as the latest cases on race reveals (which isn't to say Kennedy is right either; I'm not sure yet where I stand on those cases, but much of what he says is wrongheaded). But they do seem to me to be in the general ballpark of what I'd want in a Supreme Court justice, certainly better as a package deal than any other package deal from a Republican president since FDR. Eisenhower gave us Warren and Brennan. Nixon gave us Blackmun and Stewart. Reagan gave us O'Connor and Kennedy. Bush I gave us Souter.

Add to that the fact that this kind of conservative could get through a Senate that's a little more Democratic than the one that consented to Roberts and Alito. One with a more narrow-minded judicial philosophy would stand little chance. You don't need to turn to a Kennedy or Souter. You just need a good judge with a conservative record who isn't an ideologue. If Thompson becomes president and tries to nominate someone like Michael Luttig or Janice Rogers Brown, he'll have a hard time getting them confirmed, although I think it's possible. But someone more like Alito or Roberts would stand a much greater chance and still have a huge impact on the direction of the Supreme Court in a conservative direction.

I'm not going to count getting the fiscal situation in this country under control as a narrow issue. It's hard to see Iraq and the war on terrorism as a narrow issue. I don't see judicial conservatism as a narrow issue either. These are major issues, and there are lots of smaller issues within them.

As for McCain, he'd have a hard time getting elected at all at this point. Without Republicans supporting him, he'd have no chance against Hillary or Obama. But if it hadn't been for the immigration stuff, I do think he would have been able to run a competitive campaign against either of them. Those are in fact the only two who have consistently polled competitively against Hillary and Obama. Fred Thompson certainly isn't (and neither is Romney, I will admit). Maybe that would change. Maybe this is more about name recognition than policy views or personality. But the fact remains that the two people you picked out as the ones who couldn't win against Hillary are exactly the two who have been polling better against her than any of the other candidates.

Besides, do you really think Tom Tancredo or Ron Paul could get even 15% of the vote against her? I doubt it. Most Republicans even recognize them as extremists. I think most of the Republicans who are running could lose to Hillary given the prominence of Bush Derangement Syndrome among independents. The issue isn't who could lose to her. They all could. Ronald Reagan could in this environment if he were alive, sane, and able to run against her. The question is who is the best person to represent the GOP who could have a chance of beating her. I think several candidates could have a chance of beating her. That includes at least Romney, Giuliani, and Thompson. Of those three, Romney is clearly the best to represent the party on issues. If I change my mind, it will likely be because some currently second-tier candidate turns out to be better on both representing the party and on having a chance at beating her. Right now there isn't someone like that.

I'm of the belief that a politician's past actions are more instructive than what they say. Do you hold the opposite view of politicians?

It's partly because of Romney's career as governor that I believe we have good reason to trust his conversion as genuine. Thompson's voting record on abortion in the Senate reveals that he is a federalist on those issues. It says nothing about an underlying commitment to pro-life views, and his statements at the time reveal that he had a pro-choice view. As I said, that's better than any of the Democrats who are running. But Giuliani's views as he's explained them and Giuliani's record as mayor are consistent with the same view that Thompson held as senator. I think you've provided some evidence to distinguish them a little bit, but I haven't seen evidence that shows that they're far enough apart to justify a moral inability to vote for one under any circumstance while actually supporting the other for the GOP nomination (not just in the general election if he happens to get the nomination).

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