Feb. 2, 2010
Last year, it was as if we had all been inundated by the great Wave. Barack Obama as candidate said he felt a righteous wind at his back. For many of us, though, his support--so broad, so overpowering, so irresistible--was a force of nature.
That great Wave threatened to sweep all before it. The work of decades would be undone. The people had spoken. For many in this democratic republic, the voice of the people is the voice of God. To say no to anything President Obama wanted was to risk being called an obstructionist, a blinkered reactionary, or worse, a racist, a terrorist.
Mr. Obama took the advice of those who specialize in doing things the smart way. If youre going to do something many of the people might not like, do it fast, do it early, and give them time to forget about it.
Its the same cynical advice these smart types gave to John Edwards. Wait until an earthquake happens in Haiti, or a revolution occurs in Massachusetts, before you admit paternity, before you stop your relentless lying. And then hope nobody notices. The roar of the Wave might mask whatever you say.
So, President Obama very quickly cast down the Mexico City Doctrine of Ronald Reagan. That policy was duly reaffirmed by both Presidents Bush. Who cares about this stuff, anyway? Wingers? Thumpers? People who are, in the dismissive words of the Washington Post, poor, uneducated, easy to command?
The Mexico City Doctrine meant that the United States taxpayers would not have to pay for the slaughter of innocents abroad. It was the overseas equivalent of the Hyde Amendment at home. It had the support of people who, though they might differ on whether abortions should be legal or not, at least could agree that pro-choice and pro-life Americans should not be taxed to pay for this.
In that sense, Reagans Mexico City Doctrine is that common ground middling folks say they are always seeking. So where was their outcry when the Wave swept it away? Im still waiting.
But those who caught the Wave forgot about the Rock. The Rock is often out of sight, often submerged. It is that hard conviction that America is indeed a special land, that Americans are, in Lincolns words, an almost Chosen People, that our Declaration of Independence spoke an eternal truth when it said our rights are inalienable. These rights, said President Kennedy, come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God. This great truth is the Rock.
In the past year, we were told by Newsweek that President Obama hovered over the nations, like sort of a god. That was at Normandy. Then, we were told that he had become the Bringer of Peace. That was at Oslo. Finally, he told us he would be the one who would cause the oceans to cease to rise.
The ocean has ceased to rise. His Wave ebbed. And then receded. What the Wave left on the shore is a lot of flotsam and jetsam, the wretched refuse of broken dreams and deflated ideology. Its not just a lowered approval rating. Those measures could not begin to gauge what really happened.
What weve seen is a great iconoclasm--the breaking up of an image or images. The images broken in this year represented the idea that we could bring material prosperity through profligate waste, that we could become healthier while massively dealing in death, that we could heal the planet through human effort alone with no regard for the One who made the earth and loved it.
So now, as the low moan of the receding tide is heard, as Mr. Obamas fellow party members are surging and seething and sounding on each other, the Rock has re-emerged.
Americans have not given up their convictions. When candidate Obama said he wanted to reduce the number of abortions, no one in the press, no one in the debates challenged him. How can you make them fewer by making them free? If abortion is a fundamental right, as your campaign and your party say it is, why should we have fewer of them? If abortion is just a tonsillectomy, as leading members of your congressional wing say it is, why shouldnt it be covered in your health care plan? If you think not paying for abortions is part of a tradition in Washington, then what has become of your promise of change? And if federal funds dont pay for abortion-on-demand, what about your pledges to Planned Parenthood? If youre really not in favor of forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions, why wont you accept the Stupak Amendment, which makes that ban explicit?
If it were not for the pro-life movement in this country, ObamaCare would already have been signed. The pro-lifers are not the Rock. Truth is the Rock. The Wave broke on the Rock but the Rock remains.