THE Global Justice Movement Website

THE Global Justice Movement Website
This is the "Global Justice Movement" (dot org) we refer to in the title of this blog.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Obama's Blunder

As the French might say, Senator Obama's cute remark during Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency ("McCain's New Hope: The Candidate Shines at Saddleback Forum," Michael Gerson, The Washington Post, 08/18/08, A11) was worse than a crime. It was a blunder. Asked by Reverend Warren at what point in its development a baby has rights, Obama answered that the determination was above his pay grade.

Now, there are many people in the Global Justice Movement who are pro choice. There are many who are pro life. I happen to fall into the latter category. Whatever their stand on this issue, however, they all at least pay lip service to honesty, honoring it as a more or less attainable ideal. A straightforward candidate who stands by his position and states it clearly without equivocation, even if he differs from you, would make a far better president than one who hides his position, and avoids answering honest questions. If you don't know where he stands, you don't have the possibility of convincing him of his error, nor do you have a reasonable certainty that if he finally agrees with you, he means it.

Senator Obama's fatal mistake (for such it could very well prove to be) wasn't telling a lie. It's proverbial that all politicians lie. Had he trumpeted a pro choice position at a liberal gathering, and within the hour a pro life position at a conservative convocation, it would have been reprehensible, yes, but a number of people would have shrugged it off as "business as usual, ho hum, what do you expect?" and excused it on the grounds that, like all politicians, he'd say anything to get elected.

A more rational — and respectful — answer would have been, "Don't criminalize, don't subsidize," with an explanation that, regardless of his personal belief, abortion divides this country at such a fundamental level that making it illegal again would very likely cause a civil war. On the other hand, it is patently unjust (even tyrannical) to force anybody to support something they regard as murder and a blatant violation of the natural law through tax money.

Obama did not respect his audience enough to lie to them, and he did not trust them enough to be honest with them and let them know where he stands. Instead, he lied by not lying — the worst form of false witness. He lacked the both moral courage to say what he believed, and the physical courage to bluff it out. A prospective leader of the most powerful nation on earth cannot afford to show that lack of moral fiber. He lost whatever good opinion his audience might have had of him, and (if it counts for anything), mine as well.