Doctrinaire liberals are (predictably) getting into gear to cover up Senator Obama's little lapse during the Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency, when the would-be president replied that it wasn't in his pay grade to answer a question as to when a human infant has rights. E. J. Dionne Jr., the Washington Post's "Catholic" commentator ("The New Evangelical Politics," Washington Post, 08/19/08, A13) is declaring how the Saddleback Forum demonstrated Obama's effective outreach to Christian Evangelicals. Dionne ignores Obama's equivocation and presents the Forum as a sign that the Evangelicals are being carefully weaned away from "single issue" politics (as if politics were anything else) and shepherded into Dionne's communitarian fold that welcomes everyone except those who disagree with Dionne's surreal version of Christianity. There they can vote in support of the liberal agenda with no reference to unpleasant realities like the natural law, fundamental human rights, and the plain common sense of the Gospel and the Ten Commandments.
Dionne claims that Senator McCain no doubt won over "many for whom opposition to abortion trumps all other causes," and that Obama "was more a wrestler than a boxer as he struggled with the big questions." On the contrary — Obama didn't fight at all. He avoided grappling with what many consider the biggest question of all — whether a human being has rights — and McCain pinned him to the mat with no effort.
I wonder if Dionne's (and Obama's) reaction would have been the same if the issue were another one that tore this country apart: slavery . . . a "slave" being legally defined as a human being without rights. It's doubtful that the southern states would have refrained from seceding had Abraham Lincoln equivocated. Had Lincoln said that the question of abolition was "above his pay grade" or dodged the issue in some other way, the South would have been absolutely convinced of what they suspected: that Lincoln was dead set on immediate abolition, with no compensation to slave owners.
Evangelicals are made of sterner stuff than Dionne assumes. They might have respected Obama even while they disagreed with him, and voted him in as a lesser of two evils — had he been honest with them. By asking them to join in a rousing chorus of the old 1840s campaign song, "The Candidate's a Dodger," however, Obama managed to pull the wool only over his own eyes, and convinced no one.
Yes, the candidate's a dodger, yes a well know dodger.
Yes, the candidate's a dodger, yes and I'm a dodger too.
He'll meet you and treat you and ask you for your vote
But look out boys he's a-dodging for a note.
Yes we're all dodging', a-dodgin', dodgin'.
Yes we're all dodgin' out away through the world.
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