Americans have watched with acute interest as the Bush cabinet has
begun to take shape this week. Though a skittish economy and Federal
Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan were center-stage news, a
sharply-divided electorate awaited appointments that would herald likely
policy directions in the coming Bush administration.
One major constituency paying particular notice to each of
President-elect George W. Bush’s appointments has been those Americans
who oppose legalized abortion. Bush made many commitments to pro-family,
pro-life ideals during his campaign, and the rank-and-file of committed
traditionalists — who undeniably comprised a major part of Bush’s
ground-troops during the long and grueling campaign season just past —
intend to try to hold the president-elect to his early promises.
So far, many have been disappointed.
Abortion-rights advocates making the rounds of the television talk
shows were quick to issue warnings against Bush’s pursuit of measures
that would infringe on the abortion standards enshrined by the Clinton
administration. Prominent Democrats have praised the choice of Gen.
Colin Powell as secretary of state — not so much for the diversity he
brings, but because Powell supports abortion. The same can be said of
the appointment of Paul O’Neill for treasury secretary. Unopposed by
Democrats, O’Neill, outgoing chairman of Alcoa Aluminum, supported
Planned Parenthood as a corporate sponsor.
Douglas R. Scott, president of Life Decisions International, recalls,
“Our efforts to convince Mr. O’Neill to end such support fell on deaf
ears.” Scott notes that although Alcoa was on the Life Decisions
International boycott list for nearly a decade, the company had recently
sent LDI a letter indicating that their support for Planned Parenthood
had ended and that the boycott should be lifted.
“I find the timing of Alcoa’s request interesting,” Scott said.
Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s much-expected pick as national security
adviser, has described herself as “reluctantly pro-choice.”
“What if I described myself as reluctantly pro-slavery?” Scott
retorted. “I mean, we are all reluctant to make hard choices.”
As for Mel Martinez, the nominee for secretary of housing and urban
development, Colleen Parro, executive director of the Republican
National Coalition for Life, quipped, “Why didn’t Bush put him where he
could do some good?” Martinez is pro-life and “Bush should be praised
for that appointment,” added Scott.
Family Research Council President Ken Connor also praises Bush for
appointing Martinez. Formerly led by Gary Bauer, an early candidate in
the Republican presidential primary, Family Research Council is a
Washington, D.C.-based Christian public policy group. Connor, who ran
for governor of Florida in 1994 as a pro-life candidate, chose Martinez
as his running mate.
“Bush could not have selected a more pro-family, pro-life person to
undertake the task of ensuring that the nation’s housing policies
protect the vulnerable and serve the taxpayers well,” said Connor.
So what is the Bush strategy for cabinet-level appointments?
According to one beltway professional who requested anonymity, it is
to blend the poles of the Republican Party by appointing some
conservatives and some liberals within the administration. Whatever the
merits to that analysis, frustration is already surfacing among some of
Bush’s most fervent supporters. On Tuesday the Washington Times quoted
a “former White House official” who warned: “If Bush doesn’t name
movement conservatives to the next four Cabinet jobs, his administration
is going to be in trouble with his base.”
Parro agrees: “The Bush people haven’t taken us seriously. If Al
Gore had been elected and had nominated even one pro-life candidate for
a Cabinet post, Kate Michelman would have hung him out to dry.”
Michelman is president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights
Judie Brown of American Life League was blunt: “Bush’s pro-life
honeymoon will end in divorce. He passed up an enormous opportunity to
say something profound in his acceptance speech.” Instead, says Brown,
“Gonzales as White House counsel is not pro-life. Rice is not held to a
pro-life standard. Powell is pro-abortion. What is borne out in these
appointments is that Bush is not truly pro-life. Presidents listen to
their inner circle; Bush’s actions contradict his rhetoric.” Brown was
particularly frustrated with Powell: “The Secretary of State is in
agreement with population control. He will oversee population-control
dollars.” American foreign aid comes under the auspices of the secretary
Population control is a major platform feature of many United Nations
groups like the World Health Organization, as well as for U.N.
conference declarations, notably the Beijing and Cairo Conferences.
According to a Sept. 29 Wall Street Journal article, Bush courted
prominent Catholics in hopes of securing the Catholic vote, going so far
as to promise a pro-life ambassador to the U.N.
Republican strategist Karl Rove consulted Deal Hudson, editor of
Crisis magazine, which had sponsored a “path-breaking study of Catholic
voting patterns.” Hudson, however, said he had “been dragged to GOP
‘outreach’ events before but found them all ‘pure window dressing’.”
Nevertheless, Hudson and other Catholics flew to Austin to discuss
Catholic issues with Bush. Satisfied on both economic and moral issues,
Hudson reported, “We asked if he’d support legal means to end
third-trimester abortions. Bush said, ‘Deal, that’s a no-brainer.’ He
also said he’d support a ‘pro-life ambassador to the United Nations’.”
Americans opposed to legalized abortion-on-demand are now expecting, or
hoping, that at least some of the key administrative positions will be
filled with nominees they know and trust. They favor Oklahoma Gov. Frank
Keating or Sen. Don Nickles for attorney general, and oppose
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge for Department of Education. In fact,
opposition to Ridge’s pro-abortion posture prevented the governor from
being tapped for vice president, the nod going to Cheney instead, who
The pro-family lobby gives special emphasis to Health and Human
Services, the surgeon general and attorney general. Wisconsin Gov. Tommy
Thompson, who opposes abortion, has agreed to head Health and Human
Services, according to CNN, although the announcement reported will not
occur until after Christmas.
On the other hand, Bush is expected to announce today the appointment
of New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman to head the Environmental
Protection Agency. Whitman supports abortion rights.
Some Republican Party activists are not shy about expressing their
overall disappointment with the first wave of Bush appointees: “Look,
Reagan was not afraid to appoint true conservatives,” Scott told WND.
“When you appoint these pro-aborts to a high office, you legitimize
them. There are skilled pro-life possibilities — why wasn’t Steve
Forbes named for secretary of the treasury? We sold our souls to the
Others, however, retain some hope that more acceptable appointments
are forthcoming. Austin Ruse is director of the Catholic Family and
Human Rights Institute in New York City, where he frequently battles
radical feminist and abortion agendas at the United Nations. He told
WorldNetDaily, “Gov. Bush repeatedly described himself to the American
people as pro-life. He promised pro-life leaders face-to-face that many
appointments in his administration would be pro-life. Pro-lifers came
through for him during the campaign. The coming days are the test.
Pro-lifers must hold him to his promises.”