Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How Facts Get "Checked"

So I think Ross Douthat is one of the best conservative pundits out there, and I don't mean that as faint praise.  He's better than most liberal pundits too.  But he has odd blind spots, and one of them has been on display in his Twitter feed.  Douthat thinks this political ad is misleading:

Douthat has said that "the ad is taking Romney's quote out of context, and lying about his actual position in this campaign."  He has also called the idea that Romney wants to ban abortions in cases of rape a "noble lie" ("noble" from the perspective of the Obama campaign).

Earlier, Douthat retweeted a link to this entry from FactCheck.org (which I think discusses a different version of the ad).  The entry claims that the Obama campaign is "twisting Romney's abortion stance."  And that may be true in some sense, but it's important to realize what Romney did and didn't say.  Here is a portion of the transcript of the relevant debate (which I'm copying from the FactCheck entry):
A.J. from Millstone, New Jersey, Nov. 28, 2007: If hypothetically Roe versus Wade was overturned, and the Congress passed a federal ban on all abortion, and it came to your desk, would you sign it? Yes or no?
Romney: I agree with Senator (Fred) Thompson, which is we should overturn Roe v. Wade and return these issues to the states. I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said, we don’t want to have abortion in this country at all, period. That would be wonderful. I’d be delighted.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper: The question is: Would you sign that bill?
Romney: Let me say it. I’d be delighted to sign that bill. But that’s not where we are. That’s not where America is today. Where America is is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in the country, terrific.
Now, it's apparently true that Romney doesn't officially support an outright ban on all abortions.  It's also true that many Democrats draw a distinction between their personal views and their political views (that is, they personally oppose abortion, want it to be rare, etc., but they won't support legal prohibitions on it).

But Romney isn't drawing that kind of distinction.  When he said, "That would be wonderful.  I'd be delighted," he wasn't referring to a world in which there are no abortions.  He was referring to a world in which it is a federal crime to perform an abortion in any circumstances whatsoever.  Romney wants women to die on the operating room table instead of getting an abortion.  In fact, the prospect that it might be a federal crime to perform an abortion in those circumstances delights him.

Douthat thinks the Obama campaign is misleading voters by failing to draw a distinction between what Romney says would be an ideal outcome and what Romney is willing to support as an official matter.  Douthat is entitled to his opinion, but that is an awfully fine distinction to draw.  Romney was pretty clear that he would ban all abortions everywhere, if only he could round up sufficient political support.  Women are entitled to draw the obvious inference, and it is ridiculous for FactCheck and Douthat to call the Obama campaign dishonest for campaigning on this issue.


Blogger Elisa said...

Romney is despicable on women. He says "everyone should have access to birth control" but he means they should have to pay for it -- not get it free at Planned Parenthood or have it covered by their insurance plan. Then he has the nerve to say that women shouldn't have kids until they're married. Basically, your purpose on earth is to be a married mother and if you have other ideas you can suffer and die.

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