Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Spectervisions of grandeur

Hugh Hewitt's latest column is up. He argues that the GOP shouldn't let ideology force out those Republicans who disagree on abortion.

So what could go wrong? Fast forward four years. The Democrats have convened in late summer in Cleveland to nominate former Virginia governor Mark Warner and Senator Barack Obama. It is the third night of the convention, and the Democrats have chosen as their keynote speaker . . . Arlen Specter. Or Olympia Snowe. Or Chuck Hagel. Or some other GOP big who has grown disgusted with his or her inability to have any influence on Republican deliberations. So they have bolted, bringing a message that their party breached its pledge to govern with the interests of the entire country in mind.

The prevention of just this sort of scenario is at the core of the debate over Senator Arlen Specter's rise to the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. A national party would welcome the visibility of a member whose views are not always--or even often--in step with the majority's ideology. A national party intent on a generation of authority would avoid the mistake Democrats made when they drove every pro-life official from its leadership ranks.

Sounds familiar. In response to Hewitt's earlier arguments, which I agree with, I wrote:

Additionally, despite the civil tone of the intraparty dispute, I don't want to be the Democrats. We have both pro-abortion and anti-abortion people in our party and we agree to disagree on that issue, while other issues bring us together. A major problem with the Democrats is that they impose a litmus test on the issue, not just for judges, but for the politicians as well. Can anyone name even one major pro-life Democrat (beside Zell Miller)? Neither can I. Abortion is a major point of contention in the party, but there are many other issues, like taxes, crime, terrorism, foreign policy, etc that Republicans make common cause on. Republicans don't have to choose and pro-abortion presidential contenders, but we have a big enough tent to get along on other issues, while disagreeing on this one. Holding Specter's feet to the fire is a good thing for party discipline, but throwing him into the fire isn't.