Herman Cain on abortion, Take 1: "It's not the government's role or anybody else's role to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you're not talking about that big a number. So what I'm saying is, it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president. Not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family, and whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn't have to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive issue."
Herman Cain on abortion, Take 2: "As to my political policy view on abortion, I am 100 percent pro-life. End of story."
End of story? I think not. Now, it is surely true, as Mr. Cain says, that "the government shouldn't be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make." I tend to doubt any Republican believes that the government should tell people who to invite to their birthday party, what sort of cake should be served or even what color the decorative balloons should be. On the other hand, most societies throughout history, including this one, have felt that the government should provide some sort of legal guidance when it comes to the intentional ending of human life.
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Herman Cain clearly doesn't understand that personally opposed but politically neutral is not a pro-life position. It is a pro-choice position. While there are actual pro-abortion activists out there, the majority of pro-choice Americans who support legal abortion are not actually pro-abortion per se. They are simply against the government telling women that they are not permitted to make certain "social decisions" of this kind. Cain's position is an intrinsically pro-choice one, his promise to veto government funding of Planned Parenthood notwithstanding.
And even Cain's attempt to clarify his position is problematic because it reveals the same intellectual confusion that was seen in his previous insistence that the Federal Reserve's internal audits meant that no external audit was necessary, and his inexplicable declaration that "it is not someone's fault if they succeeded." His claim that he misunderstood the thrust of the question from Piers Morgan and his ex post facto attempt to substitute "the president" for "the government" not only doesn't clarify his position or solidify his pro-life credentials, it calls his personal integrity into account.
Ace of Spades points out the problem. "Cain didn't say "the president shouldn't be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make." He said "the government." That includes Congress and the courts, which he now says he'd appoint judges to that would remove the "right" to abortion."
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In addition to that exhibition of inept legerdemain, Cain's insistence that the president has no constitutional authority to order people not to seek an abortion is also deeply questionable. Barack Obama has issued 45 executive orders to date. George W. Bush issued 288 during his eight years in office. Even Ronald Reagan issued five. But if the president can order that no employee of the United States government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination, as President Ford did in Executive Order 11905, then he can surely order that no employee of the United States government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, the act of abortion.
Perhaps he can even order that no doctor or medical institution that receives federal funding shall either engage in or conspire to engage in abortion. I don't know, I'm still trying to find "executive order" in the Constitution. But unless Cain is promising to undo all previous executive orders, then it is obvious that the office of the president can do far more to shut down abortion than any of its previous occupants have historically done.
It is disingenuous to pretend, as Herman Cain does, that appointing judges and threatening vetoes of money going to Planned Parenthood is the full extent of the president's ability to inhibit the practice of abortion. Indeed, because most medical facilities receive federal funding through Medicare, the president has the ability to bring it to a near halt by the simple denial of all federal funding to institutions that permit the murder of the unborn.
Herman Cain is not the man with the courage of his convictions for whom pro-life conservatives have been waiting for more than 20 years. He is not the bold and principled leader that their courageous steadfastness merits. The Magic Negro, Part II: Republican edition, is the black version of Mitt Romney, only less intelligent, less monied and more closely tied to Wall Street. The fact that these two bank-owned, flip-flopping faux conservatives are presently leading in the pre-Iowa polls is a testament to the sad and muddled state of the Republican Party.