Southern Baptist leader and the National Catholic Register say "No!" to Giuliani
Two leading Christian outlets have declared their opposition to, and have marked their distance from Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani.
Richard Land, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention, made a statement indicating that Giuliani will be a hard sell to conservative Christians due to his two previous divorces:
“I mean, this is divorce on steroids,” Land said. “To publicly humiliate your wife in that way, and your children. That’s rough. I think that’s going to be an awfully hard sell, even if he weren’t pro-choice and pro-gun control.”
I, too, wonder if trading spouses within the matrix of the matrimonial stock market would prompt anyone to wonder if a man who is so acutely challenged at ordering his own home would be similiarly challenged at ordering an entire nation. Sure, I may be committing the fallacy of composition here (family as basic unit to society/society itself ~~what is true on the micro-level must be true on the macro-level), but I can’t help but wonder. Check out CNN for more on Land’s statement to the AP.
In an editorial entitled “No Deal, Rudy”, the editors of the Legion of Christ-run periodical National Catholic Register warn the Catholic public that voting for Giuliani, even if he were to succeed in winning the Republican nomination for the next presidential race, would not only be an affront to the pro-life cause, but an implicit sanctioning of the mutation of the Republican identity from pro-life to anti-terrorism and hard-on-crime. Here are a few snippets from the article, which you can read in its entirety here:
The way the pro-Rudy argument goes is this: For the past three decades, social conservatives have had the luxury of insisting on purity in the Republican Party. Their clout was such that any candidate had to undergo a “forced conversion” before running for national office. But 9/11 changed that. Now, extremist Islam and the war on terror are such all-consuming issues, and we can’t be so caught up with abortion anymore.
Since Giuliani is committed to the war on terror and is a great crisis manager with a track record rooting out the gangs of New York, we shouldn’t demand that he be pro-life, but instead we should be willing to make a deal.
Rudy’s deal: He’ll promise not to push the pro-abortion agenda, and he’ll nominate judges in the mold of Samuel Alito and John Roberts. Pro-lifers in the Republican Party in return would support him, but keep insisting that the party stay pro-life, and fight our fiercest pro-life battles at the state level, where they belong.
That seems like a good deal, at first blush.
We also see the downside of Rudy’s deal. If pro-lifers went along, we’d soon find out that a pro-abortion Republican president would no longer preside over a pro-life party. The power a president exerts over his party’s character is nearly absolute. The party is changed in his image. He picks those who run it and, both directly and indirectly, those who enter it.
Thus, the Republicans in the 1980s became Reaganites. The Democrats in the 1990s took on the pragmatic Clintonite mold. Bush’s GOP is no different, as Ross Douthat points out in “It’s His Party” in the March Atlantic Monthly.
A Republican Party led by a pro-abortion politician would become a pro-abortion party. Parents know that, when we make significant exceptions to significant rules, those exceptions themselves become iron-clad rules to our children. It’s the same in a political party. A Republican Party led by Rudy Giuliani would be a party of contempt for the pro-life position, which is to say, contempt for the fundamental right on which all others depend.
While I agree with NCR that the ascent of a pro-life Republican to the highest elected office in the United States would have serious consequences for the identity of the party, I think its a bit hyperbolic to assume that the Republican would become “Giulianite“. After all, the Republican Party most certainly is not currently “Bushite“…and thank goodness for that!
I also think that labelling the Republican party “pro-life” without qualification is just silly. Though the Republican Party is traditionally pro-life in terms of abortion, it fundamentally lacks any coherent conception of the human person–a metaphysics of man. It is precisely just such a metaphysics coupled with divine revelation (imago Dei) that supports the Catholic pro-life position. But let’s not let the stereotypical Democrat off the hook here either, though!
Being pro-life in Republican terms is to embrace a principle, not a metaphysics, a principle that is dissoluble within the right socio-political solution. Being pro-life in Republican terms it is not to embrace life itself as possessing intrinsic value. I’m painting in ocean-wide strokes here, but we would expect a consistent ethics of life from the so-called Republican platform if it took the question of human value and dignity, and their extension into ethics, seriously. But it doesn’t. Hence, the election of pro-choice Republicans to high office is no longer a partisan scandal (just ask the Californians).
Speaking of which, is it just me or does reference to THE “Republican Platform” sound just a bit too Platonic to take seriously??? In any case, we may need to face the reality soon that the question of abortion may no longer be a central issue in political life in America.