Thursday, 21 April 2005

Brooks on Roe

A good David Brooks piece appeared in today’s New York Times on the hyperpoliticization of the abortion issue in the wake of Roe v. Wade. An excerpt to whet your appetite:

Justice Harry Blackmun did more inadvertent damage to our democracy than any other 20th-century American. When he and his Supreme Court colleagues issued the Roe v. Wade decision, they set off a cycle of political viciousness and counter-viciousness that has poisoned public life ever since, and now threatens to destroy the Senate as we know it.

When Blackmun wrote the Roe decision, it took the abortion issue out of the legislatures and put it into the courts. If it had remained in the legislatures, we would have seen a series of state-by-state compromises reflecting the views of the centrist majority that’s always existed on this issue. These legislative compromises wouldn’t have pleased everyone, but would have been regarded as legitimate.

Instead, Blackmun and his concurring colleagues invented a right to abortion, and imposed a solution more extreme than the policies of just about any other comparable nation.


I meant to blog this before I went to bed last night, but the permanent link hadn’t appeared yet in the RSS feed. More here.


My local media infamy continues to increase in this week’s issue of Planet Weekly, one of Jackson’s two alt-weekies:

Such questions [about ties between bloggers and political campaigns, and whether independent blogs are campaign contributions] are becoming more and more prevalent as websites and blogs become more of a force in politics at all levels, said Dr. Chris Lawrence, visiting professor of political science at Millsaps College and webmaster of a blog called “Signifying Nothing,” which he’s operated since 2003 [sic: actually, November 2002, but who cares?]. Such sites can serve as an organizational tool for volunteers, a media channel for voters, or a method for campaigns to get their message out, said Lawrence.

The article is about the Jackson’s Next Mayor blog, which is in something of a pissing contest with the Jackson Free Press, the other alt-weekly; the JFP says JNM is carrying water for incumbent mayor Harvey Johnson’s opponents, while JNM says the JFP is carrying water for Johnson—I’d charge both as being “guilty” on all counts, as a mostly-disinterested observer.

Incidentally, it’s amazing how much more pub I’m getting now that I’m leaving town…

Abort this

Apropos the previous two posts, I noticed something odd in the comments on this sidebar post at the Jackson’s Next Mayor blog: two people debating incumbent mayor Harvey Johnson’s position on the abortion issue.

I’m at a loss to figure out what exactly a city mayor’s authority over abortion would be; indeed, the only elected officials I can see whose positions on abortion would be worth knowing (at least, given the current situation where the Supreme Court decides what public policy is acceptable on abortion) would be presidential candidates and U.S. senators, who are responsible for nominating and confirming appointments to the Supreme Court. Even if that weren’t the case, I don’t really know what the mayor could do for or against abortions, or—for that matter—what another candidate would do differently on abortion.

The only thing I can figure is that candidates’ positions on abortion are seen as proxies for general ideology by at least some voters, which I suppose makes sense (given that abortion is a fairly “easy” issue in Carmines and Stimson’s typology), but it’s not all that great of a shortcut.