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May 01, 2013

Ramesh Ponuru, Margaret Carlson Have An Honest Discussion About The Gosnell Affair

Worth reading. Carlson, to her credit, concedes a lot of territory that a less honest hack would refuse to give an inch on.

She does start out poorly:

Margaret: Ramesh, I'm sensitive about your side criticizing mine for not jumping on the Kermit Gosnell case. By the time conservative critics were doing their criticizing, it had been covered (although I'm ashamed to say not by me; I wish I'd known what was going on but I didn't). And conservatives were covering it in the meta sense -- writing about the coverage. That's because there is no fight from the other side. None. How could anyone support what Gosnell is accused of doing, never mind the conditions of filth and neglect, or the inhumanity to both mother and child?

But there is fight from "the other side," and futhermore, most of "the other side" is fighting with silence. They know they have no good answers, no water to douse the fire out, so they've settled on the tactic of suffocating the fire, denying it oxygen.

Which is the most dishonest form of fighting, after all. Silence is an admission that they know their side is in the wrong and couldn't possibly offer any plausible argument against that obvious fact, so instead they deliberately, and knowingly, decide to keep that a secret. They know their side is wrong on this, but rather than being candid and adult about it, they engage in a conspiracy of silence.

Now, once Carlson (a dyed in the wool liberal) offers that nonsense as her opening gambit, she's much more thoughtful and candid in the rest of the discussion.

Margaret: Let me answer the question you raise: Yes, we have gone too far. Since we're talking about what we wrote, during last year's Democratic convention I wrote about how terrible it was that Democrats took out of their platform that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare." As I read the Gosnell case coverage, I've learned that late-term abortions aren't as rare as I thought. Gosnell is charged with repeatedly and openly killing babies born alive. That is something doctors who perform abortions sometimes have to contemplate. Just yesterday, a pro-life group released a video of a doctor in a Washington clinic explaining what would happen if the baby were accidentally born alive. He wasn't much different from Gosnell.

Ramesh: And of course this was an issue in Illinois when President Barack Obama was a state senator. He voted against legislation to clarify that infants who survive abortions should be protected, because he worried that it was inconsistent with abortion rights. It's a vote his defenders have been trying to explain away ever since.

Margaret: This is where a constitutional law professor can go wrong, way wrong, and it's something Obama must regret. I hope he does. When I look at the law and what's happening, I see Roe v. Wade on a collision course with our own eyes. The trimester construct is set akilter anytime you go into a neonatal unit. Babies live at 20 weeks. Someone -- the court, the states -- has to deal with the viability question. Roe was meant to prohibit abortions after viability and to protect a woman's primacy to decide before that. You might not agree with that, Ramesh, but there was a balancing of rights -- those of the mother and the fetus. That line has changed, and something should be done to address that.

The other huge problem is how wide the "health of mother" exception is. It can be anything -- age, emotional health, financial condition. The loopholes are so large a nine-month pregnant woman could go through them.

Overall, it's a good exchange, in which both participants have their Adult Hats on and discuss things without a whole bunch of Perfect Bullshit talking points.

Who would have guessed that conversations are a lot more productive when conducted in the spirit of honesty? Talking points, lies, hackery, all of it, tends to be a tit-for-tat game; once one opponent starts engaging in it, the other will usually begin offering up his own dishonest rhetoric.

On the other hand, there's Tamara Holder, and her strange threat to tell on Katie Pavlich for talkin' about her behind her back.

It occurs to me that there is a possible paradigm by which honesty can be encouraged and dishonesty discouraged.

I'm going to guess here that Margaret Carlson feels that, because this is a one-on-one written discussion, she's representing herself.

Two things flow from that: 1, if you're representing yourself, you feel more strongly compelled towards honesty and candor, because you're not just offering a position -- you're offering your own honor. That is to say, your reputation is on the line.

Further, if you're representing yourself, and not your tribe, 2, you don't feel as required to act as a spokesman/mouthpiece/shyster lawyer for third parties. Which you might feel compelled to offer if you are cast in the role of "defending the left's position on abortion," that is, representing millions of persons who are not yourself. You might give yourself the excuse that you have to offer up some bullshit spin, because The Left, as a group, has essentially hired you as Crisis Communications Manager.

It's a different set of ethics that attach when you're representing yourself as opposed to a group of others.

It might be helpful in interviews and debates to push people off one paradigm (acting as loyal mouthpiece for ten million clients) and into the more interesting and honest one (acting as a mouthpiece only for your own thoughts).

Who knows, maybe Tamara Holder could have been pushed off her thoughtless nonsense if Hannity badgered her to say what her personal beliefs were. That is, strip her of the armor that allows her to say thoughtless and stupid things (the idea that she's got 10 million NARAL members dependin' on her) and force her to just speak for herself.

Probably not, of course. It's probably dumb all the way down. But hey, maybe it's a useful experiment.


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posted by Ace at 06:42 PM

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