Rand Paul’s mistake: Talking honestly about the pro-life issue
In case you missed it, a minor controversy has erupted over Rand Paul’s recent comments about abortion.
Essentially, he said that there are extremes — some people believe life begins at conception; others believe we should have abortion on demand until delivery — but that public consensus is somewhere in the middle. When pressed, Paul noted that his pro-life worldview was based on “personal religious beliefs,” implying that he wouldn’t try to impose his personal beliefs on the nation.
The problem with compromises, of course, is that they are inconsistent. If you believe that life begins at conception, and that abortion is murder, then it’s hard to square allowing any exceptions — even if doing so means passing legislation that will save millions of lives. So Paul’s comments are somewhat problematic for those who see the issue as literally a matter of life and death.
From a pragmatic standpoint, however, Paul seems to be saying two things: 1). That he believes in the Thatcher maxim that first you win the argument, then you win the vote, and 2). That the pro-life cause is best served when it stresses areas where their is consensus (banning late-term abortion, for example) and doesn’t get too far over its skis (talking about rape, or stressing “personhood,” transvaginal ultrasounds, etc.)
The real problem for Paul, in my opinion, is that he’s having an honest discussion about a very sensitive topic. There’s no place for that in politics!
This is what happens when politicians think out loud and actually verbalize the things they are thinking. We often complain about scripted politicians who stick to talking points and sound bites, but there’s a good reason why the most boring, disciplined politicians seem to succeed. Would Paul have been better off by simply parrying the question? Probably.
You can watch the video here: