Beyond Fanaticism

Barack Obama's approval of legalized abortion is "unmistakable," First Things editor Joseph Bottum writes in the current issue.
Unlike Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry, Barack Obama refused to make even verbal gestures toward compromise or nuance during the presidential campaign. The flatfooted line he delivered at the Saddleback Forum — that a decision about when life begins is "above my pay grade" — proved that he has internalized the peculiar logic of Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which cast laws against abortion as government's unconstitutional intrusion into private metaphysical decisions. But his earlier line that he didn't want young women "punished with a baby" proved that he has also internalized what stands behind those decisions: a worldview in which life is not a gift but a burden to be shouldered only when we will.

On abortion, Obama is the complete man, his support so ingrained that even his carefully controlled public speaking can't help revealing it. He's not a fanatic about abortion; he's what lies beyond fanaticism. He's the end product of hard-line support for abortion: a man for whom the very question of abortion seems unreal. The opponents of abortion are, for Obama, not to be compromised with or even fought with, in a certain sense. They are, rather, to be explained away as a sociological phenomenon — their pro-life view something that will wither away as they gradually come to understand the true causes of the economic and social bitterness they have, in their undereducated and intolerant way, attached to abortion.

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