Monday, September 29, 2008

The Red Philosopher


So we are going for a one-issue vote here?

i) You’re the one who decided to focus on abortion, not me. I’m responding to an issue you chose to single out. Try to keep track of your own argument.

ii) In addition, the “single-issue voter” objection is a ruse. Politicians are not that compartmentalized. Is not as if a politician is liberal on abortion, but conservative on everything else. Obama is a case in point.

If I were a "goose-stepping apparatchik for the liberal establishment" I would not criticize my own party for its "doctrinaire" response to the abortion issue.

Your criticism is duplicitous in light of the fact that you’re trying to downplay Obama’s stance on abortion to make him a morally acceptable candidate.

I am not going to say that people who support the war in Iraq, who have no problem with "enhanced interrogation techniques," who think that trickle down really trickles, etc., are not Christians.

i) You have never offered anything resembling a serious, sustained defense of your opposition to “enhanced interrogation techniques.” You simply react and emote.

Therefore, you don’t have the right to use that as an argument, since you’re too lazy to actually turn your knee-jerk opposition into a respectable argument.

Ditto: your opposition to the Iraq war.

ii) I, by contrast, have argued for my position on interrogation in detail. I've also discussed the pros and cons of the Iraq war. It isn't all of a piece.

iii) You also naively act as if voting for a candidate is an endorsement of his position on everything. That’s not how it works in a real world situation. Not all issues are equally important. Not all issues are all-important.

iv) BTW, it’s possible to be a conservative economist like Ben Stein and oppose supply-side economics.

Perhaps you think that the kind of secrecy, the _refusal to be held accountable for one's actions, the use of "executive privilege" to avoid even showing up when subpoeaned by Congress is OK.

i) Other issues aside, I notice that you have a very one-sided standard. You’re only concerned with Executive secrecy, Executive privilege, Executive accountability.

What about Congressional secrecy or Congressional accountability?

ii) You’re also being very vague. What are you alluding to, exactly? The fact that Alberto Gonzales fired some US attorneys?

a) First of all, if you ever bothered to get your information about conservatives from conservatives, instead of getting your (mis-)information from hostile thirdhand sources like the Daily Kos, you’d realize that conservatives never cared for Gonzales. He was never a standard-bearer for the conservative cause. Indeed, conservatives were worried that Bush might nominate him to SCOTUS. They were glad to see him go.

b) Second, unless it was a crime for Gonzales to fire the US attorneys, Congress has no more right to subpoena White House aids than the Justice Dept. has a right to subpoena Congressional aids if the White House happens to disapprove of Congressional policies.

Perhaps you think that it's OK to tell lies about one's history in order to get elected, if you are on the right side of the abortion issue.

i) I’m assume you're alluding to the charge that Palin lied about her opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere. To begin with, if you’re going to charge her with dishonesty, then you yourself need to be honest about the way you frame the charge.

From what I’ve read, she changed her mind. She supported the Bridge before she turned against it.

Is your claim that she lied because she oversimplified her record and exaggerated her opposition to the Bridge?

If so, then you’re a liar when you oversimplify her record and exaggerate her support for the bridge.

ii) In addition, you also act as though her record as a reformer is limited to this one project. When you do so, Victor, you misrepresent the extent of her record as a reformer. If we measure you by your own yardstick, does that make you a liar?

Your moral indignation would be more convincing if you gave some evidence of moral consistency on your own part.

iii) More to the point, you have a very naïve view of what a vote represents. I don’t vote for a candidate because the candidate is my role model in life. I vote for a candidate based on his/her policies.

If I had a five-year-old son with cancer, I’d take him to a physician who’s the best oncologist, not a physician who’s the best person.

The best oncologist might happen to be a womanizer, while a less competent oncologist might be a wonderful family man. Which one should I choose to medicate my son? The physician who's a better role model, or the physician who's a better oncologist?

If I recall correctly, Art Holmes, the longtime chairman of the philosophy department at Wheaton College, took a pro-choice position on abortion. As does Bill Hasker, who defended his position in a print debate in Human Life Review back in the 197os.

Before Roe v. Wade came down the pike, many evangelicals took a more liberal view of abortion. Your illustration simply reflects the generation gap.

Politically, I don't think a judicio-political solution to the abortion issue is feasible. Even with the overturning of Roe, I don't think there will be any states who pass anti-abortion statutes

Over the years, a number of states have tried to place various restrictions on abortion. State laws attempting to do that have been struck down by SCOTUS. So, yes, it would make a difference.

So I'm certainly not going to one-issue-vote on something that can be affected by the President in only the most indirect of ways.

You have a demagogical habit of stereotyping your opponents. Do you seriously think my opposition to Obama is limited to his view of abortion?

It’s not as if I think Obama is right about everything else. No, Obama is consistently wrong.

Truth Unites says that those Christians who support Obama are not good Christians on the abortion issue.

I agree.

I don't think Christians who support the Bush administration on waterboarding are good Christians on the waterboarding issue.

You’re right, Victor. You’ve never exhibited the slightest capacity to actually think through that issue. You simply react and emote.

Take a hint: you don’t get to use this as a reason unless and until you make a reasoned case for your position.

One more question. How can you be so strongly pro-life on abortion and also defend killing "babes in arms" as enjoined by I Samuel 15? Oh, wait, there's was a divine command there. I forgot.

Why do you think a divine command one way or the other is morally irrelevant?

Yes, there was a divine command in 1 Sam 15.

On the other hand, abortion is a capital offense (Exod 21:22-25). For an exposition and analysis of the Biblical data, cf.


  1. I'm having trouble deciding who gets spanked worse: Professor Loftus or Professor Reppert?

    They both get spanked so easily and so regularly on Triablogue.

  2. I realize that you think McCain has things right on a lot of things. The question that I would ask you is whether you think the abortion issue is sufficiently transcendent that if, God forbid, you were to become liberal on other issues, would you nevetheless vote for the more pro-life candidate.

    Or we might ask the question this way. If you had a pro-life liberal running against a pro-choice conservative, who would you vote for?

  3. Or we might ask the question this way. If you had a pro-life liberal running against a pro-choice conservative, who would you vote for?

    A good, honest, reasonable question to challenge the stated position of a pro-life voter. I appreciate that.

    Speaking for myself only, I'd vote for a pro-life liberal who would appoint strict constructionist judges to the SCOTUS against a pro-choice conservative who wouldn't do that.

    To say otherwise, would give lie to my stated belief that abortion is a morally transcendent issue.

    An honest question deserving of an honest answer. Thanks Victor.


    “Or we might ask the question this way. If you had a pro-life liberal running against a pro-choice conservative, who would you vote for?”

    Of course, that’s a highly artificial hypothetical. For example, it’s quite unlikely that someone would be liberal on abortion, but conservative on embryonic stem cell research or euthanasia.

    Another difficulty with answering the question is that a hypothetical question isn’t an isolated scenario, but bound up with other hypotheticals.

    I’m not interested in prolife or proabortion symbolism. The answer turns on the practical consequences of a belief. For example, if we had a prolife Congress and a prolife Supreme Court, then the proabortion views of a presidential candidate would be less consequential.

    Or we could spin a hypothetical situation in which we’re in a war of national survival, and the prolife candidate is a dovish naïf who will get us all killed while the proabortion candidate will save us from our enemies. In that scenario, the proabortion candidate would save more innocent lives.