Why it’s hard to get excited about McCain

In an interview with the Weekly Standard, McCain Won’t Rule Out Pro-choice Running Mate:

IN A WIDE-RANGING INTERVIEW aboard his campaign plane this morning, John McCain said that he is open to choosing a pro-choice running mate and named former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge as someone who merits serious consideration despite his support for abortion rights. . . .

“I think that the pro-life position is one of the important aspects or fundamentals of the Republican Party,” McCain said. “And I also feel that–and I’m not trying to equivocate here–that Americans want us to work together. You know, Tom Ridge is one of the great leaders and he happens to be pro-choice. And I don’t think that that would necessarily rule Tom Ridge out.” . . .

“I think it’s a fundamental tenet of our party to be pro-life but that does not mean we exclude people from our party that are pro-choice. We just have a–albeit strong–but just it’s a disagreement. And I think Ridge is a great example of that. Far moreso than Bloomberg, because Bloomberg is pro-gay rights, pro, you know, a number of other issues.”

Of the four individuals most frequently mentioned as potential McCain runningmates–Joe Lieberman, Tom Ridge, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty–Lieberman and Ridge are pro-choice and Romney, by his own account, was pro-choice until at least November 2004.

So if McCain also just wants pro-lifers and pro-deathers to “work together,” how is this different from what Barack Obama is saying? If he actually DOES pick a pro-death running mate, that strongly suggests the issue is not important to him and he’ll lose the vote of lots of cultural conservatives.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://reformationfaithtoday.com/ Les Prouty

    The jury is still out for me on McCain. I am still looking for clarity on the stem-cell issue from McCain. Even if that can be satisfied for me, there are other McCain problems for me as a conservative.

    Obama has always been off the table in my book due to his 100% pro-death position, among other things.

    If McCain wants to seal the deal for me to vote elswhere, all he has to do is add a pro-death candidate to the ticket.

  • richard

    A “pro-death” candidate?

  • http://reformationfaithtoday.com/ Les Prouty

    “John McCain said that he is open to choosing a pro-choice…”

    Pro-choice is by definition “pro-death.” A pro-choice person may want to call themselves “pro-life and pro-abortion,” since they are for the right to choose. But the end of that position is that a pro-choicer is for (pro) people choosing life or for (pro) people choosing death (abortion).

  • http://reformationfaithtoday.com/ Les Prouty

    Perhaps it would be more accurate to say a pro-choice person is pro-life and death.

  • Bill

    McCain refuses to appeal to his base. These middle of the road Republicans are making it more and more difficult for convservatives to hold their nose in the booth.

    The time to rid ourselves of these name-only Republicans is the primary elections and it should start with your local representatives.

  • Sam

    Why is this news?
    McCain knows what every GOP presidential candidate (and everyone else with a modicum of sense) has known for 30 years: the Christian right always demonizes the Democratic candidate as Satan’s spawn then votes for the Republican. Hold your noses, grumble, complain, but, like the Manichurian candidate when he saw the queen of hearts, you will vote for McCain. He knows it, and you know it.
    When he picks a “pro-death” [sic] VP, you’ll rationalize; you’ll say, well, he can still appoint pro-life judges, the VP pick is just window dressing, Obama is still worse, etc.
    Then you’ll vote for McCain.
    Let’s move on.

  • richard

    But this is VP, for goodness sakes. Was it John Nance Garner who said the VP office wasn’t worth a warm bowl of spit?

  • http://reformationfaithtoday.com/ Les Prouty

    Sam, perhaps some, even many, will.

    Richard, yes, but he is next in line, and one votes for the ticket. One who votes for McCain votes for the VP as well.

  • Don S

    Sam @ 6: You are partially right. Those of us on the right who vote will probably hold our noses and vote for McCain. We cannot stomach our government being led by a triumvirate of Obama-Pelosi-Reid. But, many will not vote at all if McCain picks a pro-death VP. They will sit it out. If your base is not energized, you will not win, no matter how many “moderate” voters you may pick up because of your lukewarm policies.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sam (@6), well said.

    Richard (@7), Garner actually mentioned a pitcher of a different body fluid. Anyhow, the President under whom he served was 21 years younger at the time than McCain is now. I think McCain’s VP would have a much greater chance of serving than the average one.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I think we should change the subject and argue about war some more on this one, but… :)

    If he chooses a pro-death running mate I will not vote for McCain and I will not vote for Obama.

    I will then be forced to vote for someone else because this is the one issue for me. Does that make me shallow?

  • Joe

    I am really getting sick of voting defensively. And, I don’t mean national defense.

  • http://www.boomerinthepew.com David Porter

    It seems silly to me to say that if you don’t get your way with McCain’s choice that you will go stick your head in the sand.

    We are faced with these two choices. God is sovereign right?

    My bible doesn’t tell me to stick my head in the sand if I don’t get my way.

    I have certainly attempted to understand God’s way with these two candidates. But at the end of the day, I have a finite mind and He has an infinite mind.

    Between the two, certainly we must choose McCain. Don’t let Obama win because you are sucking your thumb not getting your own way.

  • richard

    tODD, you’re right! Well, same colour.

  • Carl Vehse

    Implying that because God is sovereign means a voter must voted for either McCain or Barry Soetoro is eisegetic nonsense. No where in the Bible does it say, imply, or infer that not voting for either major candidate (or instead, the electors for either major candidate) in a U.S. presidential election is against God’s will or command.

    David, asserting that God’s way is that one must vote for the least repugnant of two candidates is claiming to speak for God something that He does not say. The first and second commandments would seem to apply in such a case.

  • http://www.boomerinthepew.com David Porter

    Carl,

    Let me attempt to clarify my meaning, so as to not commit eisegetic nonsense.

    1.) By sovereign I am suggesting that God has his hand on the election process and the candidates are within his ordaining will.

    2.) We have a responsibility to vote. Men and women have given their lives for this right and it is offensive to me to hear people say that they just will not participate. Life is full of difficult choices.

    3.) I am certainly not attempting to speak for God. I am simply stating that given the two available choices, I will be voting for McCain.

    I certainly don’t suggest that a vote for McCain is God’s will. Who am I to know God’s will.

    So, Carl Vehse, before you get all eisegetical with my statement, perhaps it would make more sense to get a clarification before pronouncing a visitors statement nonsense and perchance look at the 2nd greatest commandment of all and love me dude!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    There are other candidates to choose from – and these two parties have done nothing for long enough. The two major parties are meaningless and they are about done making everything else meaningless (like the constitution and all law). They are good at constructing an ever greater and contradictory body of law for the micromanagement of our every whim. I’m tired of voting Republican because I believe in limited government and am a fiscal conservative. They use me. I can’t vote for Obama. It seems to me that we are men without a party acting like children. David, you really think I’ve got my head in the sand?

    Our real role as Christians I think is to call both Republicans and Democrats to live out their vocation by actually standing for something.

    One of the ways we can do that is by voting for politicians who vow to destroy unjust practices like legalized abortion on demand. I will find those people, support them, and vote for them. You can go vote for McCain if you really want to – but his long political career would seem to indicate pandering to voters on this issue so as to get elected but get nothing done.

  • Carl Vehse

    1.) By sovereign I am suggesting that God has his hand on the election process and the candidates are within his ordaining will.

    David, that still does not mean that it is God’s will that we must vote for one of the candidates or even a write-in.

    2.) We have a responsibility to vote. Men and women have given their lives for this right and it is offensive to me to hear people say that they just will not participate. Life is full of difficult choices.

    We have a responsibility to elect worthy people into office. We do not have a legal or ethically responsibility to cast a vote for candidates we do not believe are worthy to hold that office. Even Robert’s Rules of Order permit abstaining or voting present, and, of course, God being sovereign, I’m sure you would agree then that He had a hand, by His ordaining will, in producing Robert’s Rules of Order.

    It may be offensive to you, David, to hear that people may decline to vote for candidates they cannot support, but that is their right, which people have defended with their lives. Your being offended does not mean that God thus requires them to vote for one of the candidates no matter what.

  • Anon

    Carl Vehse, we actually do have a responsibility to fulfill our vocation as citizens. We are the government. The people in Washington are merely our delegates. They have been getting a mite uppity in the past couple three generations.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean voting for one of the two majors, but to not vote at all when one is able to do so would be to refuse to operate in one’s calling as a citizen, would it not?

    I realize (IIRC) that your namesake threw up his hands in disgust (or perhaps defeat, I do not know) at the politicking in the beginning Missouri Synod and went back to Saxony. Is there a relationship there?

    Obama is an antichrist. To idly sit by and let him become president is quite possibly not an option for a Christian.

  • Carl Vehse

    “…to not vote at all when one is able to do so would be to refuse to operate in one’s calling as a citizen, would it not?”

    There is simply nothing in the vocation of citizen that obligates one to vote no matter what. There is no legal requirement. There is no ethical requirement.

    There is a Christian obligation in his vocation as citizen to work toward the betterment of his country. There are many ways this may be done; one method certainly is in voting. And a citizen would be remiss in his duty if he were to refuse to vote because of motivations of laziness or lack of concern.

    But there are valid reasons why a person might not vote. Up until several decades ago, career military officers did not vote in elections because they did not believe it was appropriate for the military to be involved in politics (Should such officers defending the U.S. with their lives be labelled as unpatriotic because they did not vote?). Some conservative Christian church bodies believed (and may still believe) it is inappropriate for women to vote in secular elections (as well as participate in church body elections).

    In an election where a citizen sees the major candidates with positions that make them morally unfit to hold office, he may vote for a minor candidate or write in a candidate, even knowing that there is no chance that person would win. Or, where there is no other choice the voter may simply not vote for anyone for that office. In either case, that person is not responsible for an immoral candidate winning. That responsibility is on those who voted for that candidate.

    A separate category includes cases in which the candidates for a given office have both positive and negative positions, none of which makes them completely unfit. In such a case, a citizen should weigh the various positions and, in his judgment, vote for what he sees as the best candidate for that office. Of course, different voters may disagree with each other on which category they view the candidates for a given office.

    One way to encourage all informed citizens to vote, no matter what their views are about the fitness of candidates, is to allow, for each elected position on the ballot, either a positive or negative vote for one selected candidate. Thus, where all candidates for an office were considered unfit, a voter could cast a negative ballot against the worst candidate. By summing up positive and negative votes, the candidate with either the most positive (least negative) total wins. I suspect politicians would never permit this because many would be elected because their opponents’ vote totals were even more negative.

    Another way is to encourage voting is to select candidates that are not morally unfit. Given that one political party supports murder by abortion, and the other party tolerates such a position by some of their politicians, this is a much more difficult task.

  • Another Kerner

    Alas, brothers.

    This discussion is an articulate rehearsal of an old dilemma: making an almost impossible choice between somewhat equally undesireable alternatives with all the usual ramifications.

    My family has been “discussing” the US political landscape for as long as I can remember (Believe me, that means for ages and ages).

    The Kerners in Illinois are/were generally considered “liberal”.

    My husband and his brother were the notable, somewhat “libertarian”, exceptions.

    My side of the family has been/is primarily “conservative”.

    The “liberals” hardly ever disagreed with one another.

    The “conservatives” fought and continue to strongly debate amongst themselves issues like the subject being addressed here.

    How shall we cast a vote in such a way as to advance and uphold freedom and the Constitution of the United States as Christian citizens?

    We are principially agreed.

    What causes the “split” in thinking amongst us is this matter of tactics and the question of what is both ethical and/or expedient as regards which imperfect candidate for any given office may be entrusted with our precious vote.

    (This blog site on this subject has been a rather public wrestling often enough between kerner and Another Kerner.)

    I tend to be the “purist” who wants to run to attic with the Scripture, the BOC, and the Glock, in order to sit out a Presidential election rather than cast a vote for a candidate whom I mistrust based on his/her track record.

    Should I vote for one of the other available “conservative” Presidential candidates, maintaining integrity by choosing the individual who seems to measure best against the standard of the Constitution?

    Bill Barr, for instance?

    If conservatives “split” the vote, do I help insure the election of Obama if I cast a vote for Bill Barr or Ron Paul?

    I sometimes feel like the cat who cannot bake a cake.
    I see the recipe book, the oven, all the necessary ingredients and I still cannot bake a cake.

    Some have suggested that “conservatives” need to be selective, concentrating their time and treasure in local elections, and in Senatorial and Congressional races.

    Given the “balance of powers” in our form of government, electing men and women to National and State office who will or could slow the steady march of concentrated federal authority may be a responsible answer.

    I *will* cast a ballot in November…… perhaps (or perhaps not) in the Presidential race…… perhaps only in the other races.

    Meanwhile, I lament the dilemma and brood over my choices.

    Oh yeah………
    I dearly love a heated family discussion like this one.

    Thanks for the hearty exchanges.

    Of course we all love one another, just as long as we recognize that “love” is not a warm, fuzzy feeling that is always agreeable.

  • fw
  • Susan aka organshoes

    Actually, fw. that’s not accurate, according to documents provided by National Right to Like.
    http://www.lifenews.com/nat4114.html
    (The link wars!)
    In 2003, in the Illionois Sate Senate, he chairmed a committee that wrote legislation that echoed a federal bill, that authorized care of infants alive after abortions. But he and the other democrats on his committee then voted to kill the bill.
    So, they might have approved the protecting language, but they didn’t allow the bill.
    He was for its before he was against it, is the way I read that.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    See, this is why Obama makes it so hard for people who watch what he does as well as listen to what he says, and still believe in him.
    He’s very good at getting outraged over lies about him, and heaven knows there are plenty of lies and misconceptions that his opponents can rely upon, to dissuade people from voting for him.
    But then there’s those pesky facts:
    ‘…after [an] amendment was added to change the original bill, making it identical to the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, Obama and five other Democrats voted to kill it. They killed the same bill that the U.S. Senate had passed unanimously.’
    You can find the background in an article published just today, here:
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZTBkYTYzZDNjNDgyMWJmMzMxYzljYjYxNmEwMTdhYWE=&w=MA==
    This article also links to his committee’s action report, showing that, though the committee unanimously approved the language, its democrats voted to kill the bill.
    Obama has yet to admit to the killing of the bill. I hope someone, in some future ‘debate’, brings it to his attention:that he’s only allowed the convenient truth of one position, while ignoring the inconvenient truth of an opposite action.
    Paper trails paper trails paper trails.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    >When asked “At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?,” McCain answered “At the moment of conception.” Obama’s answer here was flaming-dirigible bad:

    Whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity is, you know, above my pay grade. <

    So only God knows, so only God can judge, I guess. We mortals are left to wonder and to wander, and to duke it out as best we can, I guess.
    Goind deeper, Obama says:
    ‘One thing that I’m absolutely convinced of is that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue. And so I think that anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue is not paying attention. ‘
    Plenty of people ‘deny the moral difficulties’ of abortion, and do everything in their power to advance abortion as a constitutional right. The hand-wringing is left to politicians who stake their careers on their lofty words/low actions, and voters’ short memories/willful ignorance.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    As of last night (Sunday), Obama has, through a spokesperson, acknowledged that indeed the Illinois legislation, (of which Obama said, as late as Saturday, “I would have been completely in, fully in support of the federal bill that everybody supported”) was indeed identical to the federal bill, and he did indeed vote against it.
    However, the spokesperson said ‘the senator and other lawmakers had concerns that even as worded, the legislation could have undermined existing Illinois abortion law.’
    I can only respond: Whatever.
    Why he hadn’t acknowledged/admitted that earlier, and via his own mouth and breath, was not explained.
    I’d stay tuned. It may yet be revealed to us that Obama’s quest for the presidency has been a long, shared dream, and nothing more.
    We can’t deny his historic candidacy, but we can deny that he’s adequately and willingly revealed himself and his own history.
    As for whether or not to vote for McCain, and whether or not a Christian is allowed to sit out an election with such unsatisfying choices or possible choices, why can’t the Christian who so delights in proclaiming laws where there are none, claim that not voting for McCain thru voting for a 3rd party candidate or not voting at all is, in effect, electing a pro-abortion president, and, therefore, Christians are bound to instead vote for the anti-abortion top-of-the-ticket?
    Anyways, that’s my ‘strategy’–not proclaiming a law to back up my vote, but not abetting the election of Obama.

  • Anon

    Carl,
    Wow. I am dumbfounded. Where did you get your Civics from? You don’t understand the structure and nature of this independant republic *at all*.

    WE are the government, and we exercise our calling of governance from God in primarily voting, also campaigning, petitioning for redress of grievances, protesting, letter-writing, and so forth. It -is- our calling from God and duty. That is the nature of this Republic. Saxony might be different, but this is America.