Tomorrow is special election day in Massachusetts, and the locals will get to pick a successor to fill the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s vacant seat. Some say that this election will be a referendum on President Obama’s first year in office. Others say it is a preview of how the 2010 midterms will turn out. And even more say it means very little. In the end, the meaning of the election will be decided in retrospect, although the impact could be almost immediate on the health care debate.
Anti-choice advocates are rallying behind Republican candidate Scott Brown. In some ways, it’s a case of strange bedfellows: Brown has stated publicly that he does in fact support Roe v Wade, the ruling that allowed abortion to become legalized. However, his tempering of that with support for both late term abortion bans and some forms of conscious clauses makes him far more palatable than his democratic opponent to the far right. Once you add in his vow to be the 41st vote to block health care reform, you end up with a candidate that makes the pro-life people, if not enthusiastic, at least willing to help.
Now let us be clear. Brown is not pro-life and he has a lot to learn
on the issue. But he will be better than Coakley who is an Emily’s list
and Planned Parenthood affectionado. Sher responded in an interview
asking about conscience rights of Catholic health care workers that "You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room." So in addition to being an elitist, she has an anti-Catholic prejudice.
Brown opposes ObamaCare, pledges to be the 41st vote against it,
does not want tax dollars going for abortion and supports parental
notification laws. Coakley is calling him "anti-choice." Well he may no
be there yet, but if the left pushes hard enough, they may push him
right into a pro-life position.
By painting himself as at least open to being a pro-life advocate, Brown has been able to garner some much needed support as election day looms. But not every conservative believes his about face on health care. Pointing out that the federal plan being voted on is much like the state plan MassCare that Brown already supported, Daniel Larison writes:
The federal legislation Brown opposes is not that different from the
Massachusetts bill he supported. He sees the federal bill as a fiscal
disaster, so how can he really say that he still supports the state
system when it shares some of the flaws of the federal legislation he
rejects? He says this because he assumes MassCare is popular enough in
the state and because he is on record supporting it, but he also knows
that he cannot possibly win Republican and conservative backing if he
gave any hint that he might support Democratic health care legislation
in Washington. The trouble here is that he does not admit that
supporting MassCare was mistaken, as he might, nor does he say that he
has learned from the flawed product the state legislature created,
which might help make sense of his record and his current position on
the federal bill. Instead, he wants to have it all by retaining his
moderate Republican record to assuage uncertain independent voters
while affirming his party-line opposition to the federal health care
Come to think of it, this is not quite Romney-like cynicism, because
at least Romney has pretended to change positions as electoral
circumstances demanded. Brown is trying to occupy both sides of the
health care debate at the same time even as he seems to claim that
there is no contradiction in doing so. Both Massachusetts voters and
national Republicans have reason to wonder which side he will
eventually take when it comes time to vote on the bill.
The conservatives appear to believe playing both sides might be a legitimate concern with their new superstar. He’s managing to present himself as both pro-life and pro-choice, for federal health care and against it. Even pro-life poster boy Sen. Rick Santorum is expressing his confusion over Brown’s stands. Via Ben Smith at Politico:
Pro-life standard-bearer and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum
twittered this afternoon that Republican Scott Brown’s campaign is
"confused" in its stance toward abortion in the Senate health care bill.
Santorum seems to agree: "Brown campaign confused on conscience clause
in health care bills. House bill good, Sen bill bad, Coakley worst," he wrote, citing my item earlier on the conflict between Brown’s rhetoric and that of his local anti-abortion supporters.
Will the conservatives support for Brown hold steady, or will it begin to wane too soon to get them their electoral victory? And if Brown does win, will he morph into the Republican they want and were promised, or will he give into the pressure of being in the minority?
The polls open in less than 24 hours.
Mini Roundup: Last minute troubles for Brown? Word gets out that his campaign staff isn’t given health insurance, that his allies are making jokes about sexual assault, and he voted against support for disaster relief. But with progressives suggesting that health care would do better if Coakley lost, is she really doing any better?
January 18, 2010
Abortion opponents to converge on D.C. The Daily Item
Tim Tebow’s Anti-Abortion Super Bowl Ad Is a Travesty Bleacher Report
Anti-abortion rally set for Monday Daily Telegram
Pro-life rally held in Towanda The Daily Review
Caravan heading to ‘March for Life’ Springfield News-Leader
SC dismisses plea for banning I-pill Indo-Asian News Service
Public agencies not all about abstinence News-Press
Right to Life group holds vigil, hopes for day abortions end Ashtabula Star Beacon
In Germany, a Tradition Falls, and Women Rise NYtimes.com
‘Marriage’ benefits costly for gay couples Chicago Tribune
January 17, 2010
It’s off to court we go Tulsa World
Lt. Gov. Bryant leads anti-abortion effort Jackson Clarion Ledger
January 16, 2010
Anti-abortion activities slated for anniversary of Roe v. Wade Springfield News-Leader
Parker: Less choice on abortion but more murder Scripps Howard News Service
Marching for Life 2010 Kicks off in Dallas National Catholic Register
January 15, 2010