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McCain Caves on Draconian GOP Abortion Platform

September 7, 2008

In an interview with CBS' Katie Couric Wednesday, Cindy McCain seemed surprised to learn that her husband John wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned. But as it turns out, the surprises hardly end there for the McCains when it comes to abortion and the 2008 Republican platform. By rejecting John McCain's limited proposed exemptions for cases involving rape, incest and the life of the mother, the GOP's hard-line abortion banning plank echoes not its presidential nominee, but his running mate Sarah Palin.
That result was to be expected. During a July 30 interview, John McCain admitted he had "not gotten into the platform discussions." And it shows. Unlike Barack Obama, who personally intervened to help create a new abortion plank in the Democratic platform, John McCain left the GOP committee to its own devices in producing a document that is far more draconian than even McCain's own radical anti-abortion stands.
In reaching out to his party's religious right, John McCain famously reversed course on overturning Roe v. Wade. But as the Washington Post noted last Monday, McCain in a May interview still claimed to support exemptions for abortions in cases involving rape, incest or the life of the mother:

"My position has always been: exceptions of rape, incest and the life of the mother," the senator said.
When asked if he would encourage the party to include them in the platform, he replied, "Yes," adding: "And by the way, I think that's the view of most people, that rape, incest, the life of the mother are issues that have to be considered."

As it turns out, not so much. As predicted, McCain flip-flopped on his position in 2000 that the Republican platform should allow the abortion exemptions. His hands-off approach resulted in a hard line GOP abortion platform that not only did away with those most minimal of protections for women's health, but called for that total abortion ban to be enshrined in the United States Constitution:

"We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."

While the Republican Party apparently added fetal due process rights during the process of creating the 2008 GOP platform, John McCain played no part in the process at all. An astonished Chuck Todd of MSNBC Tuesday described McCain's abdication of the platform-writing to radicals in his own party:

"They made the decision not to fight these delegates here on this issue. Senator McCain, this platform does not represent Senator McCain's conservatism. He did not make it his party's platform. He made it the Republican Party platform, that he happens to be representing. Stark contrast to Barack Obama who went ahead, changed the wording on abortion, put in a line in there that made pro-life Democrats a little more comfortable. That was not done here. If anything this is as stringent of a platform on abortion the Republican Party ever has. And the problem is this. These delegates are more conservative - I had, I had - than, than even the ones four years ago. Than even the ones eight years ago."

And McCain's detachment from the platform of his party hardly ends there. On same-sex marriage, immigration and stem cell research as well, the GOP bucked McCain each and every time.
As it turns out, McCain's acquiescence doesn't merely reflect his weakness (which it surely does) as much as his disinterest. As McCain himself admits, he just doesn't care about details of policy; his campaign is about putting winning, and not country, first.
(This piece originally appeared at Crooks and Liars.)


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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