Andrew Sullivan bestows a coveted Yglesias Award Nomination on one David French for writing this in the Washington Post:
“In my years as an evangelical conservative lawyer and activist, I have learned (and lived) the painful reality that we evangelicals are all too often no better – and sometimes much worse – than the very people we seek to convert. If God’s strength is truly made perfect in weakness, then we surely give God many occasions to show his power. The gracious gift of knowledge of God and relationship with Him should fill us with humility – not arrogance. In short, self-identification as evangelical should be irrelevant in presidential politics – neither an asset nor a liability. When voting for president, we should judge candidates by their competence, character, and ideas,”
Neat, huh? I suppose decrying a religious requirement for our public officials is commendable, though I lament that it’s even necessary to do so in certain quarters. I would wish that such instruction would be needless so obvious is the message, along the same lines as “don’t push old ladies into traffic” and “don’t lick puddles on the garage floor.” But for some voters I guess these words are important truth-speaking.
But in the same Op-Ed, French writes this:
What about character? Faithful to his wife and an exemplary father to his sons, there has never been even a hint of scandal around Mitt. And while his recent conversion to the pro-life cause is notorious, his consistent pro-life record as governor of one of America’s most liberal states is unfortunately less known. He won a political leadership awardfrom Massachusetts Citizens for Life after he vetoed expanded access to the so-called “morning after” abortion pill and vetoed a bill permitting embryonic stem cell research in Massachusetts. [emphasis added]
Whoopsie. There goes whatever admiration French may have won from me, flying out the window.
The calumny about the “morning after” pill causing abortions is an old one. While the mechanism of action is not 100% understood, emergency contraception most likely works by preventing ovulation. It is possible that it may have some effect on preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, which counts as an abortion if you have the most extreme views about life beginning at the moment of conception. If you allow any more nuance into your definition than that, then it’s clear emergency contraceptives don’t cause abortion. Making them harder to obtain only increases the odds that a woman will have an otherwise preventable unintended pregnancy, which is hardly a laudable outcome.
Further, making embryonic stem cell research more difficult saves no “lives” whatsoever. None. The stem cells that would be used for this research are doomed to be destroyed anyway. They are created in fertility clinics, and once prospective parents stop using the clinics for whatever reason their remaining embryos are discarded. Banning stem cell research merely costs patients its potential benefit, while offering no real-world triumph for the pro-life community whatsoever. Claiming it as such is a sham.
So, yeah, fine. French thinks it’s OK for evangelicals to vote for a Mormon. Good for him, I guess. But neither he nor his favored candidate look like particular proponents of the truth from where I sit.