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I learned early on in my professional life that Americans like clever, but not intelligent.  Intelligence is daunting and rejected by the vox populi for that reason.  I have to hand it to Barack Obama for being able to somehow achieve clever and intelligent.

McCain is clever.  You won’t catch him trying to solve pi.  But by textbook debate standards, he took one of the strongest arguments for abortion, life of the mother, and treated it like it was pathetic.  I found the the “health of the mother” scoff by John McCain utterly chilling.  I still cannot believe at this very moment that McCain could profess to be “pro-life” while simultaneously mocking the life of an expectant mother.  I cannot believe he’s willing to be the man who tells a pregnant woman YOU don’t get to decide if you live or die, I do, the government does.  Even a less critical hypothetical, “you do not get to decide what will happen to your own body” unnerves me.

I don’t see the pro-life crowd as anti-choice as much as I see them as anti-woman.  I’m currently reading Flapper by Joshua Zeitz.   Zeitz discusses how the Ku Klux Klan reorganized on the platform of crushing African Americans, Jews, Catholics, and the emerging modern woman (or flappers).   The Klan would actually pull non-evangelical women from their homes routinely and beat them on the streets.  Early 20th century evangelicals fully embraced the Klans’ vision on women.  Present evangelicals have masterfully divorced themselves from their ideological oneness with the Klan from a public relations perspective but not from a reality perspective. That’s a harsh assessment on my part, but it’s supported by history.

As an unabashed progressive, I never expected someone to point out that I have common ground with an evangelical on choice.

But Barack Obama did it…

The common ground for the left and right is preventing unintended pregnancies.  I heard an evangelical minister on PBS a few weeks ago discussing this very point.  Last night Obama said,

This is an issue that, look, it divides us, and in some ways it may be difficult to reconcile the two views, but there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, we should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby. Those are all things that we put in the democratic platform for the first time this year, and I think that is where we can find some common ground because nobody is pro abortion. I think it is always a tragic situation. We should try to reduce these circumstances.

Those, like me, who find a woman’s right to exercise dominion over her own body as inherent do not take issue at all with the idea of preventing unintended pregnancies. It’s a good goal.  Compromise with the right wing, particularly the so-called value voters, prompts a gag reflex from me, but certainly the common goal of preventing unintended pregnancies pacifies the religious right’s desire to have the nation recognize the preciousness of a fetus and answers the left’s call for education.

It was brilliant of Obama to voice it.

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3 thoughts on “Choice is Yours: the Unexpected and Remarkable Dialectic of Barack Obama

  1. Pingback: McCain: Don't Give Me That "Health of the Mother" Crap Video

  2. This could be a huge step toward erasing a very divisive line among Americans. I hope it works. Seems like a win/win situation to me.

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