I Kings 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
Herman Cain can’t make up his mind whether he is pro-life or pro-abortion. He wants to ride the fence, so let’s let him. But I have two suggestions for what to call his position.
First, Unprincipled Pro-Abortion. I don’t mean unprincipled and pro-abortion. I mean unprincipled pro-abortion. He is pro-abortion for sure, but not on principle, but rather on purely pragmatic grounds. This will never do for those who (like The Fonz) can’t bring themselves to ever say the word “b-b-b-b-a…. Fetus.” Cain is no Barack Obama, who never met a single baby that ought to be protected, even one already outside the womb, once that baby has been declared a choice. But Cain is different, more nuanced. He can go long stretches without the pro-life community even noticing he is not one of them. No pro-abort of principle would ever be found hanging out with pro-lifers.
Second, Ineffectively Pro-Life. Just as Mitt Romney loves to say he was “effectively pro-choice”, rather than (really) pro-choice, Cain says he is pro-life, but as the transcript below seems to indicate, would not lift one finger to actually stop abortion. He mouths the words, but his true intent is elsewhere. Cain has joined a growing number of supposedly pro-life candidates (like Gingrich, Romney and Perry) who are really pro-choice. The only thing Cain has going for him is that he finally admitted it (kinda). In an interview with Piers Morgan of CNN, Cain started off fine.
MORGAN: Abortion. What’s your view of abortion?
CAIN: I believe that life begins at conception. And abortion under no circumstances. And here’s why —
MORGAN: No circumstances?
CAIN: No circumstances.
MORGAN: Because many of your fellow candidates — some of them qualify that.
CAIN: They qualify but —
MORGAN: Rape and incest.
CAIN: Rape and incest.
So far, so good. No exceptions, not one baby should be killed. But then Cain went off the railing.
MORGAN: Are you honestly saying — again, it’s a tricky question, I know.
CAIN: Ask the tricky question.
MORGAN: But you’ve had children, grandchildren. If one of your female children, grand children was raped, you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?
CAIN: You’re mixing two things here, Piers?
CAIN: You’re mixing —
MORGAN: That’s what it comes down to.
CAIN: No, it comes down to it’s not the government’s role or anybody else’s role to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you’re not talking about that big a number. So what I’m saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make.
Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t have to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive issue.
MORGAN: By expressing the view that you expressed, you are effectively — you might be president. You can’t hide behind now the mask, if you don’t mind me saying, of being the pizza guy. You might be the president of United States of America. So your views on these things become exponentially massively more important. They become a directive to the nation.
CAIN: No they don’t. I can have an opinion on an issue without it being a directive on the nation. The government shouldn’t be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make.
MORGAN: That’s a very interesting departure —
MORGAN: — from the normal politics.
Now how in the world does Cain go from saying that life begins at conception and he doesn’t believe in exceptions to the idea that the government should stay out of the family’s decision. I’d like to give Cain the benefit of the doubt and assume he is only talking about the unsocial decision to abort a baby descended from a criminal, but as readers of my previous blogs on this issue know, it isn’t much of a benefit. I consider that position unprincipled pro-abortion and ineffectively pro-life. Perhaps he did misspeak and was only referring to the son or daughter of a rape victim that should not be protected. Then, at least, admit it then. Stop with this nonsense that you don’t believe in exceptions. Thou speaketh with fork in mouth.
Update: There is a possibility that Mr. Cain was referring to adoption in the follow-up question Morgan asked about his children and grandchildren. The question was “bringing up the baby as their own”? So we’re going to see if we can get clarification from the campaign.
Follow-Up. Mr. Cain has issued two completely different explanations for his answers (see below), so it is unclear what his original reasoning was.
Here they are:
1) In a statement to the Christian Broadcast Network, Cain said the CNN comments were taken out of context and referred only to individual cases when a mother’s life is at stake—a situation in which he said he believed a president should never play a role.
The problem with this is that neither Morgan nor Cain even mentioned the life of the mother exception. Perhaps this is what Cain was thinking, but nothing is taken out of context – he never provided the context he is now claiming.
2) I understood the thrust of the question to ask whether that I, as president, would simply “order” people to not seek an abortion:
My answer was focused on the role of the President. The President has no constitutional authority to order any such action by anyone. That was the point I was trying to convey. As to my political policy view on abortion, I am 100% pro-life. End of story. I will appoint judges who understand the original intent of the Constitution. Judges who are committed to the rule of law know that the Constitution contains no right to take the life of unborn children.
I will oppose government funding of abortion. I will veto any legislation that contains funds for Planned Parenthood. I will do everything that a President can do, consistent with his constitutional role, to advance the culture of life.”
It do not know what this answer means. Morgan never said anything about the president ordering anything. I could take what he says to mean that he would criminalize “taking the life” of the unborn, but he hasn’t used those words. I think his clarification needs some clarifying.
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.
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