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Lowering the Bipartisan Bar

Two comments on the abortion debate and Barack Obama’s executive order ending the ban on federal funds for groups performing abortions abroad are worth pausing over. The first comes from Jim Wallis of the liberal evangelical group Sojourners. According to the Washington Post Wallis

praised Obama for not signing the order on the day of the [pro-life] march and instead marking the day by issuing his first presidential statement about abortion, which called on all sides to find common ground, such as working to reduce abortions. “President Obama showed respect for both sides in the historically polarized abortion debate, and called for both a new conversation and a new common ground. I hope that this important gesture signals the beginning of a new approach and a new path toward finding some real solutions to decrease the number of abortions in this country and around the world,” Wallis said.

This line was echoed by E.J. Dionne, Jr. in the Washington Post this morning. According to Dionne,

The consensual tone on this divisive issue reflects intense behind-the-scenes lobbying by Obama’s religious supporters, who asked him to put off for at least a day his executive order ending the ban on federal funds for groups involved in abortions overseas. The symbolism of the delay suggested that Obama intends to continue to poach constituencies that were once reliably Republican.

So let’s get this straight: those championing abortion rights get an executive order allowing hundreds of millions of dollars to perform abortions overseas; those championing a culture of life get the announcement delayed by 24 hours. For liberals like Wallis and Dionne, this kind of empty symbolism, combined with Obama invoking words like “a new conversation” and “common ground” (which for Wallis and Dionne are like petting the belly of a cat) constitutes bipartisanship and real outreach.

This is silliness of a high order. What matters is reality, not PR gimmicks. These are serious times requiring seriousness of mind and thought and analysis. One would hope that Wallis and Dionne and their fellow “progressives” would cast aside the spin and propaganda, to say nothing of evincing baldfaced intoxication when it comes to Obama. These are, after all, childish things.


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