Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

"Moderates" on Abortion

One of my pet peeves is the old-media habit of referring to politicians and political positions of which they approve as "moderate", no matter where on the political spectrum those politicians and positions actually fall. For example, the old-guard reporters have for the last few days returned -- as they do every four years -- to what they regard as the Republican Party's opportunistic and disingenuous use of "moderates" at its conventions. These folks include, we are told, Mayor Giuliani and Sen. McCain.

Here's the problem: McCain has, in fact, a 100% pro-life record. He is a "moderate" to unoriginal reporters because, well, they like him. (Oddly enough, the press loves McCain precisely because of his dangerous and extreme disdain for the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause). On the other hand, Mayor Giuliani is, on abortion, quite an extremist: He opposes all restrictions, all regulations, all notification laws, etc., and supports public funding. (By the way, I do not agree with my friend Rob's post, below, suggesting that GOP-leaning Catholics give Giuliani, etc., a "pass" on abortion. That's not my experience, anyway) (UPDATE: Here's a link, thanks to Amy Welborn, to a story about a new American Life League ad, criticizing pro-abortion-rights Republican politicians.)

In fact, the "moderate" position on abortion -- judging by polls, etc. -- is much more like George Bush's than it is like Rudy Giuliani's (or John Kerry's): abortion is bad, some restrictions are fine, informed consent and parental-notice laws make sense, partial-birth bans and born-alive-infant protections are good intermediate steps, let's change the culture, etc. So -- why does the press get this so wrong? Is it because political reporters tend overwhelmingly to hold fairly extreme pro-choice views, but also -- like all of us -- insist on regarding themselves and their friends as moderate, sensible, and reasonable?



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