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Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

At the Finish Line

(Reprinted from the issue of February 2, 2006)

Capitol Bldg, Washington Watch logo for At the Finish LineSamuel Alito has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, albeit on straight partisan lines. He won approval only because the Republicans now outnumber the Democrats, the Abortion Party.

Even so, things are changing for the better. A little. The Democrats didn’t sink to the level of sheer shameless scurrility we witnessed in the Bork and Thomas confirmation hearings. There were even moments of borderline civility. True, Vermont’s Patrick Leahy said Alito’s nomination “threatens the fundamental rights and liberties of all Americans,” but we’ve come to expect this sort of ho-hum hysteria.

And there was promise of better things to come. After the vote, South Carolina’s affable Lindsay Graham pointedly reminded us that the Republicans had courteously voted to confirm the pro-abortion Ruth Bader Ginsburg to fill the vacant seat left by the retiring Byron White, one of the two dissenters in Roe.

Translation: “We’ve learned not to make that mistake again. The next time a Democratic president names some liberal to the court, you guys are going to learn what a real confirmation battle is.” Graham has the Southerner’s gift for making a point without raising his voice. Ignore him at your own risk.

So now, it appears, the U.S. Supreme Court will have four highly intelligent justices — all Catholics, as it happens — who are ready, willing, and able to handle the most dubious liberal precedents with respect but not awe. All four have stood up to hostile liberal grilling and acquitted themselves well. Both Roberts and Alito gently pulled the rug out from under their antagonists, allowing the showboating Democrats to feel they were winning when the reverse was true.

This was the ancient Catholic strategy of jiu-jitsu. Use what the enemy thinks is his strength, patiently endure his blustering, and leave him lying on his back.

It was beautiful.

That’s My Boy?

“Every child should be wanted,” we’re told. (Subtext: “Or if not, aborted.”)

Well, it now appears that Sen. Edward Kennedy might have a seriously unwanted child. The National Enquirer reports that he has a son, now in college, by a woman with whom he had a brief liaison in 1984. Upon learning she was pregnant, according to the story, Kennedy, acting on his deepest convictions, “begged” her to exercise her constitutional right Read Joe Sobran's columns the day he writes 
them!to get an abortion. She, however, declined. She had the baby and, it seems, a nice payoff for keeping it secret. (Kennedy was still technically married at the time.)

Soon the pregnant, attractive, unemployed young woman, in the words of a “close friend,” bought “a new black Mustang convertible and an expensive purebred Shar-pei dog and moved out of her parents’ modest home and into an apartment in a nearby city.” After the boy was born in December 1984, a paternity test confirmed that Teddy was the father.

Teddy, says the article, “did not respond to calls” from the tabloid, so he hasn’t denied the explosive story, which comes on the heels of his moral indignation at Samuel Alito’s ties to the “reprehensible” Concerned Alumni of Princeton and his own resignation from an all-male club at Harvard. On top of that, Teddy is up for re-election this year. The safest seat in the Senate is suddenly in peril!

It’s the ancient Curse of the Kennedys, so help us. To make matters even worse, if possible, it transpires that Teddy has a dog named Splash, prompting Jay Leno to pose the irresistible question, “Isn’t that like O.J. Simpson having a dog named Slash?”

Making Leno’s job this easy is almost the very definition of political suicide. (Leno too, by the way, hails from Boston.)

This just can’t be happening. Prayers we’ve never even dared to pray are being answered. Maybe Teddy can survive this episode too, but there must be some limit to how many Chappaquiddicks even a Kennedy can get away with.

Culture of Death

When Pope John Paul II spoke of “the culture of death,” I thought the phrase sounded a bit melodramatic. But the longer I think about it, the more apt it seems. The modern world has become appallingly efficient in the destruction and prevention of human life, from nuclear weapons to contraceptives. Abortion is only one of its manifestations. Our enormous military budgets — almost a separate economic system — are another.

Today we are urged to fret about the possibility that Iraq or Iran will soon manage to produce a single nuclear weapon, while the U.S. government still has thousands of them. I agree that even one of these things should horrify us; one is enough for mass murder. But why do we take the possession of thousands of them for granted?

We still glorify as our “great” presidents the men who waged the wars of the past, especially the Civil War, in which 600,000 young men died for the glorious cause of preventing peaceful secession. Even if secession had been illegal, the price of stopping it seems disproportionate. How many of those young men might have become our Edisons and Gershwins if they had been allowed to live out their lives? This is only one way of reckoning the permanent cost of war.

Even without war, the birthrates of Europe and Japan have plunged. There the geniuses of the future aren’t even being conceived. It has been said that Beethoven’s mother would nowadays have been urged to get a “therapeutic” abortion; his deafness was probably due to his father’s syphilis, which also caused other medical problems in the troubled family.

Given our outlook, it seems only natural to offer to kill people for their own good. But eventually even this benign pretext will be dropped; in India it is already common to abort female babies. Every child should be wanted, as we know, and sometimes little girls aren’t wanted. Material prosperity seems only to have multiplied our reasons for dying and killing.

Through the ages, poor people — the great majority — have desperately wanted to live; today, when the world is richer than ever, people are so desperate that they want to die. Medicine has advanced to the point of offering “assisted suicide.”

Such is the brave new world of “progress.”

SOBRANS presents excerpts from my book on Lincoln, the story of how his very real virtues became, in time, tragic flaws. If you have not seen my monthly newsletter yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample, or better yet, subscribe for two years for just $85. New subscribers get two gifts with their subscription. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.

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Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2006 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission

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