Lip Service to Life
The annual March for Life has come and gone. One of its more bizarre qualities is the way GOP presidents participate: by recorded message or telephone hook-up, but never in person. This began during Ronald Reagan’s presidency when some advisors did not want a photo beamed around the world of Reagan addressing the crowd, but those same advisors knew they had to at least acknowledge the role that pro-life forces played in Reagan’s 1980 victory. Reagan could look out the window of the Oval Office and see that marchers, as could every president since, but the phone connection has remained the means of participation. Even George W. Bush, who will never face another election and seems plenty unconcerned about the political fallout of other decisions, could not manage to emerge from his office to address the crowd in person. Yesterday’s march in Washington was no different. Presidential aspirant John McCain sent a letter to the marchers that was read by fellow Sen. Sam Brownback. Mitt Romney, whose previous flip-flop on abortion has earned him a great deal of suspicion from conservative voters, issued a press release that is buried on his campaign’s Web site. Mike Huckabee participated in a March for Life in Atlanta. Ron Paul had the most significant abortion-related news of the day, announcing the endorsement of his candidacy by Norma McCorvey, who was "Jane Roe" in the Roe v. Wade court case that landed before the Supreme Court in 1973. Huckabee is probably finished after his loss in South Carolina, and Ron Paul, whose followers are as devoted as they are few, is not in serious contention for the GOP nod. But both McCain and Romney would have gained much by showing up at the march in Washington yesterday. At some point, pro-life groups need to challenge those whose disembodied voices fill their ears every January. This bizarre "telephone hook-up" is, in both the literal and figurative senses of the phrase, lip service to the cause. The loyal pro-life members of the GOP coalition deserve more, to say nothing of the unborn. Michael Sean Winters
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