Fred Thompson: Pro-Abortion?

Video here. First, one thing must be pointed out in Thompson’s defense. Though factually accurate in saying Thompson’s 2001-2002 National Right to Life voting record is a weak 33%, the number leaves viewers with the dishonest perception that Thompson voted for killing babies 66% of the time. In reality, there were only three pieces of legislation on the record for that year, and the two he differed with NRTL on were his votes supporting campaign finance reform. Fred certainly deserves heat for that, but being wrong on that issue is not related to one’s stance on whether or not unborn babies deserve legal protection.

(For those who don’t know, NRTL opposes McCain-Feingold because of its limitations on the free-speech rights of organizations such as themselves. I think this whole affair suggests that advocacy groups should reconsider their grading systems—for instance, Fred should have one score on principle-related votes, like parental notification, embryonic stem-cells, etc.; and a separate score for peripheral issues like this one.)

The year before, several more life issues came before the Senate, and on all of them, Thompson voted pro-life. This, combined with the fact that he openly opposes embryo-destructive medical research and Roe v. Wade (plus he’s more conservative on other issues) means he’s definitely a better candidate than Rudy Giuliani…but…

…the video does highlight a very real flaw in the blogosphere’s dream candidate (
here’s the full thing uninterrupted). The best he offers is that states should have “some leeway” in how they legislate abortion, but he also mumbles (by the way, this is what passes for a great communicator?) that, as a state legislator, he would not vote to “criminalize a young woman” who made the choice to abort. Satisfied that the issue boiled down to states’ rights for Thompson, interviewer Sean Hannity moved on to other topics.

In other words, Thompson is employing the exact same dodge Rudy Giuliani uses about “throwing women in jail.” If it’s dishonest when Rudy does it, why is it OK for Fred? The Senator from Tennessee needs to be forced to answer this question: “If a bill criminalizing most abortions only prosecuted abortionists and abortion providers, leaving women seeking the abortions alone, would you vote for or sign it?”

I don’t see much here that signals a serious comprehension for the sanctity of life or a willingness to stand against abortion, and frankly, I’m getting a little fed up with the fairytale hero Fred is imagined to be. Sorry to break it to you folks, but he’s no “southern fried Reagan,” and you most certainly will “have to settle,” as I’ve
pointed out in the past.

I know I’m going against the blogosphere tide on this, and I’m not trying to cause trouble for trouble’s sake. But especially after eight years of George W. Bush, choosing a Republican standard-bearer is too serious a decision to be made on the basis of personality hype. Nobody’s asking for perfect, but in 2008, America needs to unite behind
a strong conservative with a genuine record of leadership and accomplishment. And the sooner we stop looking at Fred Thompson through rose-colored glasses, the better.
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