Carroll connects the dots between the position of the new governor and the mantra of politicians for the last 30 years with respect to abortion law, that while “personally opposed”…
The interesting part of this juxtaposition of two issues is that it triangulates both the Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats have militant pro-choice factions who regard any legal limitations to abortion as a slippery slope toward theocracy. Republicans on the other hand have a militant wing with that is not all squeamish about the death penalty and believes that its broader and more predictable use would act as a deterrent to crime in our country. Both of these are minority opinions within their parties, but they are held zealously by reliable votes and so command respect out of proportion to their numbers by office seekers.
Carroll’s money paragraph is this:
In American politics, it is easier to fudge such moral questions in the blurred borderland of ''separation" than it is to mount a direct challenge to an ecclesiastical establishment or powerful interest group. As litmus tests, abortion and the death penalty can seem to sit in opposite dishes, but the moral conundrums raised by each are similar. In both cases, and in others, what we need are politicians who reach moral conclusions in the privacy of conscience (whether religiously or not), and then dare to claim, explain, and defend their private positions in public.Carroll does well to connect the dots between these two issues, so well in fact that it seems almost petty of me to criticize him for his inability to distinguish between the duties of a legislator and an executive. In the case of Gov. Kaine, who is taking on the latter role, it seems appropriate to expect the governor to execute laws without regard to his own personal judgments concerning the morality of such laws. The Legislature on the other hand is concerned with the creation of new law, and it is a fair question for that office where to draw the line between responsiveness to the electorate and personal conscience. A former President of the United States allegedly wrote a book on this topic.
Carroll’s essay seems especially pointed with respect to John Kerry, since he almost quotes Kerry’s explanation of his position on abortion during the last presidential campaign.
The usual rationale for this position is that, in our system with its separation of church and state, it would be wrong for a politician to impose a ''private" religious conviction on a public that does not share it.It was Kerry’s voting record as a senator that caused both pro-choice and pro-life partisans to disbelieve his “life begins at conception, but…” ploy during the 2004 campaign, as was noted here.
Anyway, I appreciate James Carroll’s effort for today’s Boston Globe. Certainly Carroll is the Globe columnist with the highest variance in terms of writing quality. He has the “Bush hatred syndrome” to such a degree that it often poisons his writing. But when he can put this aside, his columns are the best content the Globe offers.