June 11, 2009
Obama's Moral Slide RuleBy Jan LaRue
In President Barack Obama's moral and constitutional universe, unfettering abortion and coddling terrorists trump innocent life. But most Americans reject his anti-life calculations.
Candidate Obama promised Planned Parenthood that he would "go on offense" by signing the "Freedom of Choice Act" as his first act as president. It would put millions of additional lives at risk by eliminating all federal and state regulations of abortion, including bans on late term and partial birth abortion. If these barbaric procedures are not torture, nothing is.
When Obama told the nation that he wouldn't want one of his daughters "punished with a baby," he spoke in the context of teaching them "values and morals." Obama and his daughters are alive only because his own 18-year-old, unwed pregnant mother chose life instead of abortion. Most dads would find that a supreme lesson in values and morals to teach their daughters.
In his speech at Notre Dame, Obama implored both sides of the abortion divide to find "common ground" to "reduce the number of women seeking abortions," to "reduce unintended pregnancies," and "make adoption more available." But the lesson Obama has chosen for his daughters means no common ground -- no reducing the number of abortions -- no adoption for his grandchild. Moreover, the champion of "choice" doesn't sound as if his daughters would have any choice in the matter. Evidently, his opposition to parental notice and consent laws has one big exception.
Obama isn't simply making a moral distinction between a daughter born and a grandchild unborn. His vote in the Illinois Senate against the "Born-Alive Infant Protection Act" negates that assumption. The Act required hospitals and clinics to provide medical care for babies who survive unsuccessful abortions rather than leaving them to die as discarded waste.
Denying helpless newborns medical care and nourishment is infanticide. It should meet anyone's definition of torture, but not Obama's. Obstetric nurse Jill Stanek has shown by Obama's own words that, for him, the Act was merely a guise "to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion."
For Obama, abortion guarantees a woman a "constitutional right" to a dead baby even when the baby is alive and separate from her body. His vote against the bill is why Obama refused to give a legally defensible answer to Rick Warren's question, "at what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?"
But, on the subject of "torture" in a time of war, Obama adamantly argues the legal case for terrorists having a virtual panoply of constitutional rights.
The majority of Americans disagree with Obama on abortion, overwhelmingly so on late-term and partial-birth abortion, and infanticide. They also reject his policy banning "enhanced interrogations" of terrorists.
Obama admitted on May 21, 2009: "We know that al Qaeda is actively planning to attack us again." Three days earlier, Americans told Obama that they approve using "enhanced interrogations" on "suspected al-Qaeda operatives." Nonetheless, Obama decreed that America lacks the "moral authority" to do so even if it would save American lives.
In the film Patriot Games, starring Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan, there is a scene in which a terrorist conspirator is discovered in Ryan's home. Ryan threatens to shoot him if he doesn't disclose the location of his fellow terrorists who've already tried to kill Ryan and his wife and daughter. When the bad guy refuses, Ryan shoots him in the knee without hesitation. He cooperates instantly when Ryan jams the gun against the other knee.
The scene forces viewers to confront the truth about their own "moral authority." If it's a choice between saving an innocent person and giving a bad guy a bad time -- I'm Jack Ryan every day and twice on Sunday.
Water-boarding is no bullet to the knee, nor are any of the "enhanced interrogation tactics" used on three high-value terrorist detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, confessed butcher of journalist Daniel Pearl and mastermind of the 9-11 attacks that killed 3,000 Americans.
Obama made his abortion policy personal when he told us what he would do as a father if his daughters became pregnant as teenagers. Americans have a right to know if Obama's "no torture" policy would apply if he were in Jack Ryan's shoes as a husband and father.
If Obama were to admit that he would do what most of us would do to save a loved one, he would have to explain why he wouldn't do the same as president in order to save other innocent Americans. If he claimed that he wouldn't use "enhanced interrogation" to save his wife or children, we will know that we have a president utterly entrenched in a gravely flawed sense of morality about either torture or truth.
Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis failed to convince voters in 1988 that his moral opposition to the death penalty would apply even if his wife were raped and murdered. His passionless response to the question posed by CNN's Bernard Shaw was a colossal blunder that cost him the election.
Someone in the White House press corps should emulate Shaw by subjecting Obama to some interrogation about "enhanced interrogation." Fifty-two percent of Americans polled expressed belief that "such techniques have yielded information that has made the country safer."
In his speech at the National Archives on May 21, Obama used the U.S. Constitution as a prop. He referred to it 11 times to justify ending "enhanced interrogation" without identifying any specific text that prohibits it. He said:
Jihadists are illegal enemy combatants who target civilians. They have no flag or uniform of any country, which disqualifies them as "prisoners of war" under the Geneva Conventions. Their "crimes" are war crimes against humanity in violation of the Conventions.
Someone in the press corps should also ask Obama this question:
"Mr. President, you admitted that we are 'at war' with enemies 'who [do] not abide any law of war.' Which text in the Constitution protects them but doesn't protect babies?"
Jan LaRue is Senior Legal Analyst with the American Civil Rights Union; former Chief Counsel at Concerned for Women; former Legal Studies Director at Family Research Council; and former Senior Counsel for the National Law Center for Children and Families.