“False, False Choices”

By Dave Andrusko

As we end the week, I’d like to talk about truth, justice, and the American way. On second thought, let’s settle just on truth.

Hat’s off to Wesley Smith for alerting his readers to a column New York Times Editor Bill Keller composed that ran in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, headlined, “Traditional News Outlets — Living Among the Guerrillas.” It is the usual self-congratulatory, self-pitying drivel in which an elite member of the “traditional news outlets” decries the loss of standards, civility, good taste, etc., etc., etc.

What grabbed Wesley’s attention—and mine when I read the piece in its entirety (www.nytimes.com/2011/03/27/magazine/mag-27lede-t.html?_r=1&scp=4&sq=bill%20keller&st=cse)–was the following:

“Being right is necessary but not sufficient. We also strive to be impartial. We are agnostic as to where a story may lead; we do not go into a story with a preconceived notion. We do not manipulate or hide facts to advance an agenda. We strive to preserve our independence from political and economic interests, including our own advertisers and including our own government.”

This is so transparently false that you wonder if Keller actually believes a single word of it. Wesley cites the case of Terri Schiavo, who died from starvation and dehydration six years ago yesterday as a particularly egregious example of not allowing the facts to get in the way of the preferred narrative.

As anyone who follows events knows, it’s not the spin alone; it’s what is left out. For example, if all pro-lifers are violence-prone Neanderthals, actively hostile to women, then clearly no one should listen to us (this is spin). And if the fact that overwhelmingly our Movement is led by women at the local, state, and national level is conveniently omitted, then the public is left with a completely distorted impression of our Movement.

One other related point, based on an op-ed column that ran yesterday in the Washington Post. In “The truth about the false choice,” pro-abortion Ruth Marcus makes a number of interesting points about the rhetorical/political style of President Obama.

It’s as if Obama cannot make an argument without couching it in what Marcus labels the “false-choice dodge.” She talks about “three overlapping forms.”

But the first is “a particular Obama specialty,” Marcus writes, “the false false choice. Set up two unacceptable extremes that no one is seriously advocating and position yourself as the champion of the reasonable middle ground between these unidentified straw men.”

She identifies examples where no one is taking either of the “false choice” (“extreme”) positions Obama attributes to unnamed people. But on the first issue she cites—health care reform—it’s more complicated.

The “government-run health care with higher taxes” is actually a position that some politicians DO favor. It is not a made-up “false choice” position; they believe our current system is fatally flawed.

I mention that merely to make one two-sided point. First, although Marcus doesn’t say it quite this harshly, Obama adopts this ploy to demean and marginalize anyone whose viewpoint differs one iota from the position he prefers. It is a technique that, politically, has served him well, to this point, although not the country.

Second, this “reasonable middle ground” position was the one Obama pretended to assume on ObamaCare and on abortion in general. So having offered a toothless executive order, Obama can pretend that ObamaCare doesn’t contains multiple provisions authorizing federal subsidies for abortion, and additional provisions on which future abortion-expanding regulatory mandates may be based. It’s up to us to continually educate the public to the truth that ObamaCare is rife with components that promote abortion and guarantee rationing.

And, oh by the way, there actually is an “extreme” position on abortion—demanding: that there be no limitations on the “right” to abort; that abortions be paid for with your money; and that it is best if the United States help undermine protective abortion laws in countries overseas.

And that is the position held by the current occupant of the White House.

I need your feedback on National Right to Life News Today. Please send your comments to daveandrusko@gmail.com. If you like, join those who are following me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/daveha