Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A sublime voice for choice

Honestly, I don't think they've been paying attention.

I speak of the folks who still appear to take President Barack Obama for a soft touch. Babe in woods. Doe in headlights. One step from the doorstep of "community organizer."

They haven't been paying attention. Maybe because they don't want to see what's evident. The guy is good. Reagan as The Communicator? Obama asCommunicator Salvation, voice of a more progressive nation.

He goes to Notre Dame. A cable news talker says, "A tough day ahead for President Obama." Oh, really? You mean because anti-abortion protesters will show? Heavens.

Well, in the phrasing of a previous White House passer-through, bring 'em on. Those who think a few graphic placards and slogans can win the day when this guy has the microphone are, once again borrowing a staple of bygone days, misunderestimating this guy.

Consider the anti-choice commentators, who, seeing only what they believed, gave Obama failing marks.

A "sign the pro-lifers are slowly winning," wrote Ramesh Ponnuru of Obama's Notre Dame speech. "He didn't try to make the case for his view on abortion and other issues. He just pled for civility and the search for common ground."

That's a concession? Obama spoke for a nation with a plea to "stop reducing those with differing views to caricature."

A caricature unto itself is "pro-life." Often it needs explaining when said "pro-lifer" is pro-war, pro-death penalty and anti-human rights as pertains to homosexuals.

Another caricature, in the same bag of propaganda tricks, is "pro-abortion," which we are told our president is.

Actually, he addresses the imperative to reduce the numbers of abortion through birth control and adoption.

Somehow, not wanting to foreclose the option through law makes one "radically pro-abortion." Not where I live.

This is like saying someone is "pro-kiddie porn" by supporting free speech.

In three words, former President Bill Clinton came closest to expressing America's communal sense about abortion: "safe, legal and rare." So has Obama, and in a voice that makes people appreciate that leaders can represent a diverse nation and do justice to diverging impulses.

Many who claim to be "pro-life" by and large don't really want to explain to what extent they'd interfere in a woman's reproductive rights or when they'd back off.

In cases of rape? How do you define rape? Statutorily?

Incest? That's some claim to prove and to place on the shoulders of a scared victim.

Medical necessity? What tribunal would judge a doctor's judgment call?

So even when a recent poll shows that 51 percent of Americans call themselves "pro-life," most have no idea what the term could or would play out in the real world in terms of policy. Most of those 51 percent of Americans probably say they believe in a less intrusive government. But no government policy could be more intrusive than to order a pregnant woman to gestate, no matter the circumstances.

Oh, no. Obama not only did well at Notre Dame, he rose above the moment. He embodied the respectful and knowing face of people who are pro-family, pro-morality, pro-children and pro-choice.

If you saw something else, well, you weren't watching.

John Young writes for the Waco Tribune-Herald. E-mail:

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