Aug 21 2008

Above his pay grade?

Category: abortion,election 2008,Obama,politicsharmonicminer @ 8:56 am

Much has been made of Obama’s response to Rick Warren’s question on abortion, in which Obama said that deciding when a baby gets human rights either theologically or scientifically is “above his pay grade”.

Of course, this was not a particularly smooth evasion. The question was obviously about how Obama would govern, not so much about what was in his inner soul, interesting though that may be. And we know the answer to that question: Obama will govern as if a baby has no human rights until it is born to a mother that wants to give birth.

So even though the answer is “above his pay grade”, he will govern as if it is not. That is, he will not be able to avoid making a decision about it, even if he thinks he isn’t really able to do so (if you buy his presentation of being in great personal doubt about it).

There is a lesson here, a very important one, on the limits of agnosticism on any topic. There are decisions a person must and will make, and that society must and will make. It will almost always be a sham to take refuge in claiming not to know enough, and employing some rhetorical slight of hand to pretend not to be making a decision. It is not “deep”, or “nuanced”, or “thoughtful” to pretend to be so mired in uncertainty that no decision can be made, when in fact you’re making one. It’s simply dishonest.

Agnostics about theism make a decision about whether or not God exists by how they choose to live, whatever their self-talk.

Similarly, Obama has made the decision about when a baby should have human rights, and knows he has, regardless of his “nuanced thoughtfulness”. He has decided that no baby has human rights of any kind until it is born to a mother who wants to give birth (i.e., not an accidental survivor of an abortion, whom Obama believes has no rights, based on his voting record). He will govern that way. How much does his inner dialog on the topic matter?

Methinks he doth protest too much.

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