Jewish World Review Feb. 22, 2000 /16 Adar I, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IF JOHN MCCAIN proposed rounding up ethnic minorities into concentration camps, would anyone have the cheek to oppose him? He would undoubtedly respond by saying, as he did to Alan Keyes the other night: "I've seen enough killing in my life, a lot more than you have. I know -- I know how valuable and precious human life is, and I will not listen to your lectures about how I should treat this very important issue of the sanctity of human life."
OK, fine. John McCain was shot down in Vietnam and held as a prisoner of war for five years, and Alan Keyes and George Bush weren't. We know that. It's impossible not to know that since McCain reminds us of it every time he doesn't have a substantive answer to a question, which is becoming increasingly frequent.
Does being a war hero mean you get to be president? Apparently not -- it didn't work for Bob Dole. And if an honorable war record is not enough, we really do have to choose from among McCain, Keyes and Bush on some basis other than the fact that McCain was a prisoner of war, and Bush and Keyes weren't.
One of those alternative bases on which voters might want to choose a nominee is the candidate's position on abortion. Another is the candidate's position on the truth.
Back when John McCain was the senator from Arizona, he had a moderate pro-life voting record. (Despite being the senator from conservative Arizona, he did vote for federal funding of medical experimentation on the body parts of aborted babies.) Since becoming the senator from The New York Times, however, he's been back-pedaling on abortion every chance he gets.
Most recently, when campaigning in New Hampshire in January, he said that if his 15-year-old daughter, Meghan, became pregnant, "(T)his would be a private decision that we would share within our family. ... The final decision would be made by Meghan with our advice and counsel, and I think that's such a private matter."
Before getting to Alan Keyes' implacable deconstruction of McCain's answer, why on earth would any Republican candidate answer such a stupid question? This is abortion on liberals' terms. The unspoken assumption is that, even apart from rape cases, "unwanted" pregnancies are things that could strike anyone, just befalling wholly unsuspecting girls, like leukemia. As columnist Joe Sobran says, the very term "unwanted pregnancy" is preposterous. It always sounds like someone complaining about an "unwanted hangover." Gee, that's too bad. Do you know how you got it?
The real answer is: "Well, actually I've taught my daughter to keep her knees together before marriage. And even if she were to disobey me, I'm pretty sure she has an IQ above that of a toaster, and has heard of birth control pills." Only for fear of offending the loose or the stupid do Republican politicians give straight-faced answers to such inane questions about their daughters.
How about this for an abortion question: If your 15-year-old daughter, Meghan, were in the womb, but the womb's owner couldn't fit in to her prom dress, would you approve of Megan being killed? Would you approve of taxpayer dollars being spent to experiment on her body parts after she was killed?
Hours after McCain proposed a family rap session on having an abortion, the magnificent Alan Keyes shot a cannonball through McCain's statement. Keyes said: "(I)f your daughter came to you and said she contemplated killing her grandmother for her inheritance, you wouldn't say 'Let's have a family conference.' You'd just say 'no' because that is morally wrong."
Keyes is right; McCain's position doesn't make any sense. Either it's a life or it isn't. And if it isn't a life when it comes to his daughter -- if abortion is just like a nose job -- then denying that medical procedure to other women really is pure woman-hating sadism.
That isn't to say political compromises can't be made. If it were politically feasible to enact a bill that would, for example, ban the roughly 1.5 million abortions a year that do not result from rape or incest, but not ban the couple hundred of abortions per year that do -- of course a pro-lifer should agree, with enthusiasm and alacrity.
Bush's position of favoring exceptions for rape and incest seems perfectly acceptable to me as a political compromise. It's illogical, of course: No one thinks we have a right to murder or maim full-grown humans whose conceptions happened to have resulted from rape or incest. But that's what political compromises do. They join two inexorably opposed beliefs into a single awkward agreement, not completely satisfactory to either side.
That's what's so interesting about McCain's response to the "daughter" question. It has
nothing to do with political compromise. It tells you what he really thinks. But we're not
allowed to talk about his views. He was a prisoner of war, you
JWR contributor Ann Coulter is the author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton.
02/18/00: A liberal lynching