Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Moral Colossus' Expedient Exceptions

The retirement of Justice Souter and hence President Obama’s opportunity to select a new Supreme Court Justice will invariably rekindle discussion of abortion, some of that in moral terms. This may happen just as Obama has been moralizing about what he terms “torture” during the Bush administration. In that posture of Obama’s there is more than a whiff of the attitude of the Pharisee from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 18, who thanked God in his puffed-up self-righteousness that he was not like other men, or in Obama’s case not like one man, George W. Bush.

The President considers the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the creator of the 911 attack plot (in photo) and two other Al Qaeda members to have been torture “inconsistent with our values and who we are”. He takes that position knowing that the waterboarding was restricted to only these three men, executed under strict guidelines and only done because there were grounds to believe they had information about planned attacks on Americas, which turned out to be entirely accurate. The interrogations of these men went to the level of harshness they did because of the moral imperative to save the lives of innocent people. Remember that!

As a legislator in both Illinois and the U.S. Senate Obama was a consistent and even ardent supporter of abortion rights. Candidate Obama allowed that the states could restrict late term abortions but only if they allowed exception for the threat to the life and health of the mother. In Illinois and in the Senate he voted against bans on partial birth abortions, the procedure that the late Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan opposed on the grounds that it was “just too close to infanticide”. There has been testimony before Congress that it is more than close to that.
In debate with John McCain, candidate Obama explained his vote against the partial birth abortion ban was for the same reason, that there was not an exception to the ban for the sake of the health of the mother. When candidate Obama was asked by Rick Warren at what point did a baby acquire human rights, Obama famously answered with a moral dodge:

“… whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity … is above my pay grade.”

Yet even for Obama there can be no doubt that the objects of those late term abortions were indeed human life and human beings. Infants have been born in the 21st week of gestation and have survived, and yet late term abortions are performed up to and possibly even beyond the 37th week. Partial birth abortions are most commonly performed from the 20th to 24th week, but many much later. No concept of science or of even magic claims that such “fetuses” only become living human beings when they pass through the birth canal. Obama knows this, and that is why he could allow restriction on late term abortion but allows in his mind a morally permissible exception when the mother’s life or even her health were at stake.

Therefore the reasoning of our moral colossus is that even if it were done in the hope of preventing the planned slaughter of hundreds or even thousands of innocents by people who had already planned and done exactly that, waterboarding a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was a moral transgression not to be countenanced. This was even so if the man was advised that he would not die, did not suffer any permanent physical harm and still enjoys his three hots and a cot at the expense of those taxpayers his 911 plan did not eliminate from the rolls. Some sniff that the waterboarding may have done the man permanent psychological damage but one truly has to wonder how one defines psychological damage to a mind that devised a plot to send dozens of men to suicidal deaths in which they killed thousands of innocent strangers!

Yet the same Obama finds it entirely justified, moral and not in opposition to “our values and who we are” as Americans to permit a procedure that delivers a living, viable and entirely innocent human being feet first up to the head, which remains in the mother, at which point a scissors is inserted into the skull and expanded to create an opening into which a hose is inserted to suck out the brains! This is because the intent is to save the health or life of the mother.

Whatever the processes of thought that compel Obama to such decisions are, adhesion to serious, well developed and cohesive moral values are not critical or even necessarily present. This is base political expediency for which Obama wants to be regarded as a paragon of moral virtue! There is the very real prospect that in a time when we do indeed face real and murderous enemies we have a President whose thinking is far more attuned to protecting his image than the innocent lives of others.


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