Safe, Secular Thompson? | Here Comes Huckabee | Giuliani’s Torture Talk | CLOSing Argument

Thompson v. Roe—Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson is packaged as the safe choice for secular conservatives who place economics above the “God, guns and gays” campaigns that animate the Christian right. But a careful reading of Thompson on reproductive rights suggests otherwise.

On Meet the Press on November 4, Tim Russert quoted from the 2004 Republican Party platform: “We say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution. . . . We endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions.”

Russert asked Thompson if he would run on a platform promising a human life amendment banning all abortions? “No,” Thompson said. “I have always—and that’s been my position the entire time I’ve been in politics—I thought Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. . . . Before Roe v. Wade, states made those decisions. I think people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with. That’s what freedom is all about. And I think the diversity we have among the states, the system of federalism we have where power is divided between the state and the federal government is, is, is—serves us very, very well. I think that’s true of abortion. I think Roe v. Wadehopefully one day will be overturned, and we can go back to the pre-Roe v. Wade days.” Defenders of women’s reproductive rights understand that “states making their own decisions” will result in the criminalization of abortion in many states.

Chicken and Church Circuit—Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is packaged as an evangelical who has moderated his views. While Thompson was on Meet the Press, Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, was busy preaching from the pulpits of two suburban Dallas churches—New Beginnings Church in Irving and the 28,000-member Prestonwood Baptist in Plano. Prestonwood pastor Jack Graham told his congregants they were about to hear “God’s word from God’s man,” according to the Dallas Morning News. Huckabee delivered a sermon, rather than a speech: “There is not a disconnect between strong faith and good government. In fact I’d like to believe there is a wonderful connection. . . . If you lose everything but you still have Jesus, you have what you need. If you’re with Jesus Christ, we know how it turns out in the final moment. I’ve read the last chapter in the book, and we do end up winning.”

Huckabee spent Saturday at a fundraiser at the home of Buddy and Vicki Pilgrim. Buddy Pilgrim is the nephew of East Texas chicken magnate Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim, one of George W. Bush’s most generous early supporters. In Dallas, Huckabee was walking in the boot prints of G.W. Bush, who spent much of 1999 cultivating evangelicals there and in Fort Worth, and reaping the benefits of fundraisers at “Bo” Pilgram’s faux-Tudor East Texas mansion, a place derided by locals and architecture critics as “Cluckingham Palace.”

Giuliani Talks Tough—Asked by Al Hunt on Bloomberg TV if he knows more about torture than former POW John McCain, Rudy Giuliani responded with an answer that didn’t parse: “I can’t say that I do, but I do know a lot about intensive questioning and intensive questioning techniques. After all, I have had a different experience than John. John has never been—he has never run a city, never run a state, never run a government. He has never been responsible as a mayor for the safety and security of millions of people, and he has never run a law enforcement agency, which I have done. Now, intensive questioning works. If I didn’t use intensive questioning, there would be a lot of Mafia guys running around New York right now, and crime would be a lot higher in New York than it is.” Giuliani wasn’t asked to define “intensive questioning.”

Postscript—Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe did a good job of mischaracterizing the Law of the Sea Treaty, after it passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a 17-4 vote on October 31. Inhofe said the treaty is “a far-reaching threat to American sovereignty. . . . It hampers the operations of the U.S. Navy, allows international taxation on American companies and our government, and exposes American businesses to the international court system.”

For a more accurate appraisal, visit the website of Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), or see Ian Williams’sarticle in our November 1, 2007, issue.