Aug 16 2008

Signals, hopefully not smoke, on judges and other matters

Category: abortion,election 2008,judgesharmonicminer @ 9:07 am

This is an election in which the “values voters” of yore are mostly being ignored.

In recent presidential elections hot-button social issues like abortion and marriage played a prominent role. In 2000 the candidates hotly debated the impact of the next president’s Supreme Court picks on abortion rights as pro-choice activists attempted to galvanize voters with the prospect that George W. Bush’s election would result in limits on or even outlawing of abortion. In 2004 an Ohio state referendum on gay marriage helped turn out religious conservatives who may have put George W. Bush over the top in the decisive state. After the 2004 election, pundits and activists debated the role of “values” voters and Democrats committed to reaching out to these voters in the future.

But this year, the most remarkable thing about the two most prominent social issues –abortion and gay marriage– is how little we have heard about them.

There are several reasons for this, but the main one is John McCain.  McCain, for good or ill, has positioned himself as more “moderate” than “conservative”. Compared to Obama, he is quite conservative, of course, but he is significantly to the left of, say, Ronald Reagan.  He signals that “moderation” in several ways.  He makes noises about maybe selecting a pro-choice running mate.  He takes the occasional, obligatory swipe at big oil.  He talks about “corruption in both parties”.  And he avoids talking much about hot button issues for conservatives, like abortion and gay marriage, because he thinks anything he might say will either offend conservatives, or “moderates”.  Since he believes he can’t please both, he says little.


Values voters’ single biggest issue is abortion. No surprise here… that’s also the single biggest issue of the Left, the one that determines their stances on many other things, the single linchpin whose removal would collapse the Left’s coalition of special interests.  Nevertheless, pro-life voters care most about what kind of judges a candidate is likely to appoint. These voters don’t care specifically about how much a candidate talks about abortion, or even if he says the right things about it.  Rather, they care what kind of judges the candidates will appoint; the things that candidates say are considered to be signals about their likely appointment philosophies.

McCain has stated his intent to appoint “originalist” judges, as opposed to judges who believe in a “living constitution”, and he has mentioned specifically Roberts, Scalia and Alito as models of the kinds of judges he would appoint.

That means that McCain has sent the correct signal to those of us who think that a reversal of Roe v. Wade will save lives, even with all the complexity of abortion being thrown back to the states, which will have varying laws, etc.  Voters for whom abortion is a central issue can hope that he’ll follow through on appointing judges who won’t read things into the Constitution that aren’t there. 

For those of us who think abortion is central, but certainly not the only issue of the election, originalist or constructionist judges would also be good news, in helping to keep the Left from crippling the war on jihad (and maybe the new cold war that could be brewing with the Russians, while keeping a weather eye on China).   And of course, in actually prosecuting the war on jihad, and restraining the Russians, sending Obama would be like sending a 12 year old to fight in MMA competition with Marines. 

McCain has also sent the correct signals on taxes (not raising them).  Obama has promised to do his best to wreck the economy, essentially, though he doesn’t seem to know it.

I expect to be annoyed by McCain nearly every day.  I also plan to vote for him.  There really is no other choice.

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