Memo to Condi Rice
There are few issues in politics which inspire greater emotion than abortion. And Condi Rice put herself right (or wrong as the case may be) in the fray by telling the Washington Times earlier this week that she is “mildly pro-choice.”
I am one of those for whom Dr. Rice’s statement would be a concern if she does choose to give Hillary competition in 2008, but I am also an admirer of hers. So here is my advice to her on how to handle this issue. Two points:
First: Come to Jesus. Condi needs to get right on this issue. Hemming and hawing and describing herself as kind of libertarian on the great moral issue of our day? It’s just beneath her. She is far too smart for this intellectual cowardice. She advocated marching to Baghdad to topple a dictator and free the Iraqis; she needs to show the same vision, determination and principled commitment to defending the innocent on behalf of American babies. See sonogram.
Second: Personnel is Policy. The problem is, even if she got right on this issue, who would believe her now? My first job out of college was serving in Presidential Personnel in the Reagan White House. Condi needs to remember President Reagan’s maxim (always a good idea): personnel is policy.
A good example of how this can work is Jim Gilmore, former Governor of Virginia. (Full disclosure: my husband was a Gilmore appointee.) Condi needs to find her own Claude Allen. Pro-lifers were wary of Gilmore, who is pro-choice. However, he appointed Allen, who is unapologetically pro-life, to the key position of Secretary of Health and Human Resources. (He is now Domestic Policy Advisor to President Bush.) He also appointed more pro-lifers to other key positions. His administration was a net gain for life concerns.
Even so. I come back to point one: you’ve got to get the basics right. Roe v. Wade is this generation’s Dred Scott. “Mildly pro-choice?” Dr. Rice, you’re better than that.