Why do Republicans continue to answer “gotcha” questions about abortion, rape, incest and teen pregnancy? Attention, Republicans: You should realize by now that the only reason reporters (or anyone else) asks these questions is to get you to stick your feet in your mouth. No matter how sincere, how honest, or even how technically true your answers may be, you’ll look like a vile, knuckle-dragging idiot in tomorrow’s headlines. Count on it.
Past examples include Todd Aikin and Richard Mourdock. This week’s example is Texas Representative Michael Burgess, who, during a hearing on an anti-abortion bill, included this clinker about unborn babies: “They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs.”
Rep. Burgess is an OB/GYN doctor, so he probably (I hope) knows what he’s talking about. Still, nobody wants to think about little unborn Junior pleasuring himself in Mommy’s belly. Burgess’s remark has been replayed as the “dopey Republican statement of the week” for many days now. Republicans have to be a little smarter than that, not only to win the abortion argument, but to win any more elections at all.
Jonathan Murray at American Thinker put out an excellent column on how Republicans should answer “The Abortion Question:”
Journalist: Candidate X, do you believe in banning abortion, even in the case of rape and incest?
Candidate X: I’m glad you asked me that question. Abortion is a complex and controversial issue that has, unfortunately, become politically polarized. On the right, the anti-abortion position has become ossified as “the sanctity of human life.” On the left, the pro-abortion position has become sanctified as “a woman’s right to choose.” These positions are presented as moral absolutes, and there is precious little room for discussion or moderation.
In practice, most people hold nuanced and inconsistent positions on abortion. Our laws are also nuanced and inconsistent. Polarization has caused us to lose sight of these nuances. We permit abortion in some circumstances and forbid it in others, but the lines we draw are fluid and, some could argue, arbitrary.
Read the whole thing (it’s worth it). Murray ends with this:
Journalist: But you didn’t answer my original question. Do you support abortion in the case of incest or rape?
Candidate X: I’m not going to fall into your trap of sound-bite simplicity. Thank you.
Words that Republicans can live by.