Now, Hillary’s ‘gaffe’ upsets both sides of abortion debate

The leading candidate in both parties don’t know how to talk about life.

Shouldn’t that disqualify them?

Alas, abortion and what’s referred to as ‘the question of when life begins’ (as if it’s uncertain and therefore debatable) has played into elections for decades now. It certainly will for the rest of this election year. How candidates respond to specific questions relating to abortion, rights, and human life reveal a lot about their ideology or lack of a well-formed belief system, their adherence to talking points or lack of a base of knowledge about the topic. Any version of those is revealing.

So when Hillary Clinton was asked by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press when and whether an unborn child gets constitutional rights, I recalled having heard that question put almost that same way to candidate Barack Obama in the Saddleback Civil Forum by Pastor Rick Warren.

When Warren asked when life and human rights begin, McCain’s succinct reply, “At conception,” and mention of his pro-life voting track record were greeted with some of the loudest applause of the evening.

Obama’s pro-choice stance and flippant language were not.

“Whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective,” Obama said, “answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade.”

…a former spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops…called the comment a “dodge that wasn’t even intellectually respectable.”

Clinton’s response to Todd was very close to Obama’s back in 2008.

“Well, under our laws currently, that is not something that exists,” Clinton answered. “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights. Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t do everything we possibly can in the vast majority of instances to, you know, help a mother who is carrying a child and wants to make sure that child will be healthy, to have appropriate medical support.”

(So, wait a minute…What’s the difference between an unborn person not having any constitutional rights, and doing everything possible in some instances to help a mother carrying a child to make sure the child will be health with appropriate medical support? The elasticity of the semantics of political ideology, and dishonesty of the culture of relativism.)

Following that appearance on Meet the Press, Clinton was asked for clarification on The View by Co-Host Paula Varis.

VIEW HOST: You said, ‘the unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.’ And my question is at what point does someone have constitutional rights? And are you saying that a child, on its due date, just hours before its delivery still has no constitutional rights?

HILLARY CLINTON: Under our law, that is the case. I support Roe v. Wade because I think is important statement about the importance of a woman making this most difficult decision with consultation by whom she chooses… and under the law, and certainly under that decision, that is the way we structure it.

That default “that is the way we structure it” talking point response is almost the same as Donald Trump responding to MSNBC’s Chris Matthew’s question about punishing women who get abortions if the law changes, by saying ‘yes, there should be some punishment.’ Both are responses made under the pressure of the moment to pry out the candidates’ most deeply held beliefs about human life. But one had talking points and an entire industry prepping and propping her, while the other hadn’t thought it through well or for long and had virtually no prep.

However, both responses tell us a lot. Human life is a relative idea, protection of the most vulnerable young human beings is strategically embedded in political ideology more than inherently so in a mother’s womb, and facts not only don’t determine a candidate’s well formed positions on first principles, they actually get in the way of those positions when candidates don’t seek to be well informed and grounded in science, maternal/fetal medicine and fundamental morality.

Both Clinton and Trump have been exposed and made more vulnerable by questions relating to abortion. No doubt Clinton will be drilled by her camp, and Trump will do whatever he does to prepare for facing challenges to his views and beliefs.

But this is an issue central to Election 2016, and it’s going to remain so through November, and beyond.

Obama’s drone attack power meets resistance

This president and his administration are not used to pushback, and haven’t had to answer to much of it anyway, thanks to a largely complicit media and a discombobulated Congress mostly unable to directly engage him. And then came Rand Paul.

He played a key role in the Benghazi investigation on the panel Hillary Clinton faced and mostly dominated, though Paul stood his ground demanding answers the administration continues to withhold. Now the revelation of Obama’s drone attack powers has Paul mounting a crusade to expose what other politicians and the media just won’t. It’s a good thing someone is willing to show what ‘the power of one’ can be, when one refuses to give up or give in or be silenced, unless by necessity.

The story started to bubble up early this week, though most big media failed to report it.

President Barack Obama has the legal authority to unleash deadly force—such as drone strikes—against Americans on U.S. soil without first putting them on trial, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter released Tuesday.

But Holder, writing to Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, underlined that Obama “has no intention” of targeting his fellow citizens with unmanned aerial vehicles and would do so only if facing “an extraordinary circumstance.”

That is far too non-committal and elastic, especially for an administration that says one thing and does another (see background on the president’s Notre Dame speech, HHS mandate, National Prayer Breakfast talk, HHS mandate…)

Paul had asked the Obama administration on Feb. 20 whether the president “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil and without trial.” On Tuesday, he denounced Holder’s response as “frightening” and “an affront to the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans.”

This is an administration that denies due process or any constitutional rights whatsoever to infants born alive after an attempted abortion, because doing so would threaten abortion laws and confer constitutional rights on those infants.

“The U.S. government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so,” Holder assured Paul in the March 4, 2013 letter. The attorney general also underlined that “we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat.”

Holder added: “The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will ever have to confront.”

That is not at all conclusive, accountable or even reassuring.

But “it is possible, I suppose to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States,” Holder said.

And that was revealing.

Paul, whose office released the letter, denounced the attorney general’s comments.

“The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening—it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans,” the senator said in a statement.

The exchange came as the White House agreed to give Senate Intelligence Committee members access to all of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel opinions justifying Obama’s expanded campaign of targeted assassination of suspected terrorists overseas, including American citizens. Some lawmakers had warned they would try to block top Obama counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA unless they were able to see the memos.

And that proceeded to happen on Wednesday morning, for as long as Sen. Rand Paul and co. could keep it going. Which extended to the very last hour of the day Wednesday night. Their cause was larger than one confirmation hearing, which they knew ultimately they could not stop.

Forcing the question of civil liberties and U.S. drone policy into the spotlight, what began as a one-man stand increasingly gained steam – and supporters – both in the Senate chamber and in social media throughout the day.

Paul’s traditional or “talking” filibuster…continued into the wee hours as the Kentucky lawmaker pressed his case against the administration’s policy on drone strikes on American soil…

The senator was joined on the floor throughout the day and night by other lawmakers, who stepped in to help continue the filibuster by asking lengthy questions on the Senate floor. His colleagues’ contributions also included statements of support, the reading of tweets supporting Paul’s efforts and the quoting of rap lyrics, Shakespearean prose and classic Hollywood films.

In a sign that Paul’s cause had moved beyond just the most conservative wing of the party, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – Paul’s fellow Kentuckian who is facing re-election in 2014 – joined in close to midnight to offer support for Paul’s “tenacity and conviction” and to announce that he will oppose CIA nominee John Brennan’s confirmation.

This filibuster grew through social networking media into a new cause and movement. Because dispirited people will only remain silent until someone reminds them they have a voice, and not only deserve but need to speak.