Monday, June 13, 2005

Clinton gets it...

Sometimes old news is new. I remember earlier this year that Sen. Hillary Clinton gave this speech on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and that speech sparked a bit of press coverage because of the sense that it was reaching out to find a compromise on the abortion issue. Pundits on the right spun this as an early set piece in her run for the Presidency in 2008, and pundits on the left spun it early set piece in her run for the Presidency in 2008. At the time I paid little attention because I thought much of the coverage was just that - spin. Today, I stumbled upon a couple of columns which discussed that speech in detail and - wow, it was really good stuff. Hillary really gets it.

William Saletan wrote a piece for Slate which he described Clinton's position on abortion to be Safe, Legal, and Never. Which sounds remarkably similar to my opinion on abortion, expressed in part in this post from 09-Nov-04. In that post I noted that:
Personally, a short-term victory means little to nothing to me if I’m treating, or more likely hiding, a symptom and ignoring the disease. I'd prefer to reduce and/or completely end abortions in the United States. But overturning Roe v. Wade doesn’t end it. It is so much more important to end the vicious cycles that actually push women to decide on abortion. Until you’ve done that, you’ve done nothing.

Saletan notes Clinton's primary point in her speech:
Abortion is "a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women," said Clinton. Then she went further: "There is no reason why government cannot do more to educate and inform and provide assistance so that the choice guaranteed under our constitution either does not ever have to be exercised or only in very rare circumstances."
Does not ever have to be exercised. I searched Google and Nexis for parts of that sentence tonight and got no hits. Is the press corps asleep? Hillary Clinton just endorsed a goal I've never heard a pro-choice leader endorse. Not safe, legal, and rare. Safe, legal, and never.

Saletan goes on to point out some of the reasons that Clinton gets it:
Clinton seems to understand this. In her speech, she recalled campaigning for "teenage celibacy" a decade ago. She emphasized "the important role that parents can play in encouraging their children to abstain from sexual activity. … Research shows that the primary reason that teenage girls abstain is because of their religious and moral values. We should embrace this—and support programs that reinforce the idea that abstinence at a young age is not just the smart thing to do, it is the right thing to do."
Abstain. Parents. Religious and moral values. The right thing. This is the way to shake up the Democratic position on abortion—not with tiny defensive concessions but with a big offensive to promote responsibility and bring down the abortion

The Wall St. Journal commented on the speech as well here, noting:
Clinton has one great advantage in pressing this argument: Because of her iconic status, she is the one Democrat who can get away with making pro-life noises without alienating the party's pro-abortion base ... She probably could even get away with endorsing some modest legal restrictions on abortion, though as far as we know she hasn't yet had the political courage to do so.

That piece goes on to comment on how changes in the abortion debate could affect her run for President - but I don't think those points are relevant to the real issue.

Sen. Clinton understands that it is okay to say that you want to reduce or eliminate abortions in America - yet still believe in the legality of that choice. There is no inherent conflict in those viewpoints...

Hillary gets it.

You can get more on that speech from the NYTimes here; or Washington Times here.

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