Now, I think his anger is not helpful to his case. He's been asked a civil question by Rick Warren — this is just after the Saddleback Forum — and has an opportunity to reach the very people who are being stirred up by those who are going around saying he voted in favor of infanticide. He should have explained clearly why the Born Alive Infant Protection Act was not what his opponents say it was. I can understand why he's angry at those who present it in a form that makes him look monstrous, but the only workable remedy is to convince us to believe his interpretation of the law — and at least to teach us exactly what it was. He was a law professor. He should be able to bring us along so we can all understand.
In this video clip, all he does is vouch for his own interpretation and demand that we accept it. This is like the way he insists that we not "question his patriotism" when what we're doing — some of us — is trying to learn about and process some things we have questions about. It's delusional to think that millions of people will obey a command to put this behind us. We want to know the details of his relationship with former terrorist Bill Ayers. We want to know the details of the text of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act and the politics that surrounded it. The campaign season, for many Americans, is just getting started. It won't do to get pissed off and say that you've already explained this and we need to move on. Move on to what? These are the questions that concern us! And you won't deign to answer.
Obama supporters like to label John McCain McSame, but right now, it's Obama who is reminding me of George Bush. George Bush's greatest failing was his refusal or inability to explain why his judgment was sound and to continually persuade us that the course he had chosen was best. He seemed sure he was right and a little annoyed that we didn't understand it yet. Couldn't we just trust him and stop all this needless questioning? I'm thinking: not "McSame," Obushma.
I went looking for an accurate explanation of Obama's position on the Born Alive law. There's nothing on abortion on the much-touted "Fight the Smears" page of his website. Starting at the front page, I find the "issues" drop-down menu and go to "Women for Obama Issues" to find his material on abortion. There is a brief note of his support for abortion rights. The only outreach to abortion opponents is the line: "Barack Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him."
Google "Born Alive Infant Protection Act," and you mainly get links to the kinds of writings that Obama is angry about. This isn't surprising since his supporters are not so likely to use the term Born Alive Infant Protection Act when they write about it. Yet this is the natural search term to use if you want to learn more, and it's the search term that people he needs to persuade will use.
Here's a recent news article from the Catholic News Agency that, I think a lot of pro-lifers would find and read with trust:
Sen. Barack Obama has repeatedly insisted that he opposed the passage of an Illinois law that would protect infants who survive an abortion on the grounds that it lacked a “neutrality clause.” However, Obama’s explanation was undermined when the National Right to Life Committee revealed “smoking gun” evidence showing that a neutrality clause had in fact been added to the Illinois bill by the same Obama-chaired state Senate committee which quickly voted down the amended bill."Brazen factual misrepresentation" is a polite way to say lying. Barack Obama's answer is no, you're lying. And somehow, we're supposed to see him as representative of a new, harmonious kind of politics.
National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) spokesman Douglas Johnson summarized the revelations, saying:
“Newly obtained documents prove that in 2003, Barack Obama, as chairman of an Illinois state Senate committee, voted down a bill to protect live-born survivors of abortion -- even after the panel had amended the bill to contain verbatim language, copied from a federal bill passed by Congress without objection in 2002, explicitly foreclosing any impact on abortion.
“Obama's legislative actions in 2003 -- denying effective protection even to babies born alive during abortions -- were contrary to the position taken on the same language by even the most liberal members of Congress. The bill Obama killed was virtually identical to the federal bill that even NARAL ultimately did not oppose.”
The federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) was first introduced into Congress in 2000. A two-paragraph bill, it was intended to clarify that any baby who is entirely expelled from his or her mother and shows any signs of life is to be regarded as a legal person for all purposes of federal law, whether or not the baby was born during an attempted abortion.
A “neutrality clause” was added to state explicitly that the bill expressed no judgment about the legal status of a human being prior to birth.
“Nothing in this section shall be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at any point prior to being ‘born alive’ as defined in this section,” it read.
The bill passed Congress in 2002 without any dissenting votes and was enacted in August of that year.
As a member of the Illinois State Senate, Barack Obama opposed a state version of BAIPA in three successive regular legislative sessions. Even after the pro-abortion group NARAL withdrew its opposition, Obama reportedly continued to oppose the bill, which did not pass the Illinois Senate until 2005, after Obama had left that legislative body.
During his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, Obama’s Republican opponent charged Obama with supporting “infanticide” for opposing the bill, which charge Obama countered by claiming the proposed Illinois law substantially differed from the federal version of BAIPA.
According to an October 4, 2004 article in the Chicago Tribune, “Obama said that had he been in the U.S. Senate two years ago, he would have voted for the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, even though he voted against a state version of the proposal. The federal version was approved; the state version was not. …The difference between the state and federal versions, Obama explained, was that the state measure lacked the federal language clarifying that the act would not be used to undermine Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that legalized abortion.”
However, the NRLC claims that newly obtained documents “demonstrate conclusively” that Obama’s defense is based on a “brazen factual misrepresentation.”
So let's read Dana Goldstein in Tapped. This is a strong attempt to defend Obama's position, published yesterday:
Today the New York Times weighs in with a piece parsing the language of the two separate "born alive" bills that Obama opposed in the Illinois state senate: The first, which NARAL did not oppose and which has a federal antecedent, would have defined as a "child" any fetus "born alive" during either a birth or abortion, making it a crime for doctors to withhold medical care from such babies, regardless of their eventual viability outside of the womb. The second bill would have allowed legal action against hospitals, doctors, and nurses that did not provide such care, and is the one pro-choice groups were more concerned about. They worried it would create a climate of fear in which practitioners would not perform abortions or complicated births because of the legal risks.Maybe Obama thinks that any discussion of the details will only make it worse. Goldstein's explanation prompts follow-up questions. "So few"? But how many? "Any ethical doctor would do so"? But why can't we criminalize the behavior that is unethical? We don't say there should be no laws about murder because it's already unethical to commit murder. Now, I understand that the point is that hospital personnel don't want to have to live under the threat of criminal prosecution and that may be reason enough to vote against the law, but why can't Obama find a way to say it persuasively or at least well enough to fend off the uglier accusations?
... Undoubtedly, NARAL made a smart political move when it decided not to oppose BAIPA; nobody wants to be painted as the cold-hearted group or individual who opposes life-saving interventions for babies. But if you're scratching your head about the intent of these bills -- wouldn't any doctor be compelled to save the life of any baby? are fetuses really "born alive" during abortions? -- you're not alone. It's worth going into some detail to clarify how BAIPA operates as a classic anti-choice strategy, distorting the very nature of abortion in order to horrify the public and erode support for choice.
In order for a fetus to be "born alive" during an abortion, that fetus would have to be removed from the womb relatively intact. But 90 percent of abortions are performed through aspiration (usually in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy), in which a surgical vacuum is used to empty out a woman's uterus. The vast majority of the remaining 10 percent of abortions consist of dilation and evacuation, which is usually performed after 16 weeks of pregnancy, often when a woman's health or life is at risk. Under that procedure, the aspiration process is sometimes preceded by an injection into the abdomen that ensures fetal demise.
The kind of abortion BAIPA really targets is so-called "partial birth abortion," or dilation and extraction, which accounts for less than one-fifth of one percent of all American abortions. It is used most often to end wanted pregnancies in which expectant parents learn their baby will not be viable outside of the womb. During the operation, the fetus' skull is collapsed inside of the woman, after which labor is induced and she delivers the fetus. Difficult stuff, and not a procedure any woman or doctor undergoes lightly or happily. That's why so few of these operations take place each year. But here the fetus is removed intact. Under BAIPA, this would open up doctors and nurses performing dilation and extraction to accusations of delivering "live" babies. It would be almost impossible to make such a claim when the result of an abortion is an aspirated mass of blood and tissue.
What is BAIPA? It's not a bill about babies at all -- doctors are already required to save babies' lives, and any ethical doctor would do so. BAIPA is a bill meant to reshape the language we use to talk about abortion and mislead the public about the possible outcomes of typical abortion procedures.
Proofreading this post, I suddenly hear the resonance with "How Kerry Lost Me":
Six days later, I got irked at him for the first time, for saying "You're not listening" to a man who wanted to know what his position on Iraq was. Back then, Kerry was saying things like "We shouldn't only be tough, we have to be smart. And there's a smarter way to accomplish this mission than this president is pursuing." My question was: "If you still don't know what he would do differently from Bush, do you deserve to be snapped at for 'not listening'?" I've linked back to this old post of mine a number of times, because I never forgot that he got testy and accused a man of not listening, when in fact Kerry had never expressed himself clearly about what he would do in Iraq. I had been willing to wait a long time for a clear answer, yet here he was criticizing us for not having heard his answer yet. All I had heard was "smarter way," which just seemed like a placekeeper for a plan to be submitted later.Don't get mad at us for not already knowing the answers! Explain it. Even if you've explained it before. In Kerry's case, I felt that he was pretending he'd already explained it because he had no explanation or because if he said what he really thought, we'd object on the merits.
And now, I notice that I've already written a post called "Obama echoes the phrase that made me turn against Kerry." I was reacting to a news article "Obama Says His Critics Haven’t Been Listening."
Come on, Obama. You've got a long way to go. And if you get elected, it's even longer. If you want to be President, abandon the dream of getting past our endless questioning and onto peaceful, happy harmony time.