OHATCHEE, Al. October 28, 2011 — Phenomenal front running Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain caused doubtful murmurs among some conservatives last week. Among the reasons for this was something he said about abortion in an interview with Piers Morgan.
As a talk show host known for doing intimate interviews with celebrities, perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising that Morgan has a thing for awkward and somewhat cheeky hypothetical questions. For example, just months ago he asked Ann Coulter what she would do if she had a child who turned out to be gay.
Now, just days ago he asked presidential candidate Herman Cain what he would do if his granddaughter turned out to be pregnant by rape.
Regardless of whether or not Cain is the best candidate for president of the United States at this moment – there is time yet to determine that – the politically correct benevolence that Morgan shoved on him and the bewilderment generated by Cain’s response merits discussion.
MORGAN: “Are you honestly saying – again, tricky question I know – but you’ve had children, grandchildren – if one of your female children, grandchildren was raped, you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?”
CAIN: “You’re mixing two things here, Piers…”
MORGAN: “Why? Well that’s what it comes down to.”
CAIN: “No, it comes down to – it’s not the government’s role or anybody else’s role to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you’re not talking about that big a number. So what I’m saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family, and whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t try to tell them what decision to make for such a situation.”
Before proceeding to translate, I’ll acknowledge that I have nothing against charging every presidential candidate with challenging questions. Cain certainly has to be grilled thoroughly because he doesn’t have an elective office record available for scrutiny. The bar has to be set high, and nobody should get a free inch.
But the incoherency in the disputed segment above was almost entirely the fault of the interviewer, who quite fancies interrupting those he interviews. Sadly, Morgan’s pro-choice possum playing is such standard fare in the abortion debate that it is relatively inconspicuous to the observer.
The hypothetical question that Morgan posed to Cain had a personal slant, ostensibly to force the presidential candidate to respond as a father and grandfather, and thereby have him empathize better with potential constituents.
If it had been up to me, Morgan would have been forced to answer his own personal hypothetical question, only worded this way: If your daughter or granddaughter was raped, would you want your grandchild or great-grandchild aborted for what the rapist did?
Cain correctly responded that Morgan was “mixing two things”. Morgan was insidiously confusing the role of individual and family with the role of government, which has been done deliberately for ages.
(Cain also pointed out that the incidence of abortion for the excuse of rape and incest is very small. That is also correct – it should be well known by now that approximately 1% of abortions take place because of rape or incest.)
In the scenario of rape, an unborn child conceived as a result is obviously an innocent party in the conflict. The government’s concern is supposed to be the guilty party – the law breaker, the violator of human life and dignity. In a rape case, the responsibility of government (which exists firstly for our protection) is to stop the rapist, not meddle in the life of a victim or the victim’s conceived child (who happens to be a valuable future citizen).
While Morgan may have been attempting to pry into whether or not Cain would be interested in helping nullify Roe v. Wade as president, which is a legitimate query, he posed quite a different question.
He asked if Cain would want his raped daughter or granddaughter to raise the conceived baby as her own (as if the baby wouldn’t be hers in the least, and would be of lesser value because it was unwanted and unplanned). The question implies that her only choices are abortion or withering away alone because of the child’s conception.
The rape card is a dirty little rhetorical trick that seems particularly wielded against pro-life men.
Its bleak false dilemma accuses a fellow’s conscience of threatening to harm a girl for life. He’s supposed to be tongue-tied by emotion, knowing that all along some man behaving wickedly was the cause of the problem in the first place, and thus he should back out of the debate and think about what a miserable creature he is.
Abortion is suddenly upheld as the device that can do what his useless self can’t do – save the girl.
A couple of years ago, writer and editor Eric Novak interviewed abortion survivor and musician Gianna Jessen. When Novak brought up the topic of pro-choice women condemning pro-life men as clueless and irrelevant, Jessen found that infuriating.
“You can choose to be a punk, but you can also choose to be a different sort of man and to defend your honor, the honor of women and children,” said Jessen, “It’s in your nature to defend, it’s in your nature to be great, it’s in your nature! So having said that, when I hear that ridiculous, infuriating argument from those of my gender who say, ‘this is just about women, blah, blah, blah’- it takes two people to create a life! It’s so insulting to our men.”
That is where fostering a culture of life and dignity comes in.
But that is the responsibility of us all - not something that the chief executive of a country can single-handedly control.
That is why, quite simply, Cain seemed to be suddenly taking an extreme libertarian stance on abortion when he was actually stuck explaining something he shouldn’t have to explain.
This exchange about ten minutes into Morgan’s interview with Cain says it all…
MORGAN: “Do you think being the president…is it more of a mine field, morally, ethically, than perhaps you’d thought before - as you get closer, and you start to have to wrestle with all these dilemmas?
CAIN: “No, and it’s because of my approach to leadership and my approach to organization. If you surround yourself with the right people, and you have a solid organizational structure (which I’ve always done) and you have what I call ‘guiding principles’ (for every organization that I have headed up), that will help me not to have to micromanage.
You can’t micromanage being president of the United States of America. You’ve got to have people that understand your philosophy, and who are able to execute some of the strategies and things that you want to do.”
If such a president’s philosophy respects the sanctity of life, we should be safe.
Amanda Read is an unconventional scholar, a Southerner without an accent, a Christian who hasn’t been a churchgoer in 17 years and a college student who lives with eight younger siblings. A writer and artist, she blogs at www.amandaread.com and is the author of the historical drama screenplay The Crusading Chemist. Amanda is majoring in history and minoring in political science at Troy University.
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