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Hullabaloo


Sunday, October 30, 2011

 
No exceptions
by David Atkins

Herman Cain in 1998:

“Too many people in the electorate are single-issue voters,” he commented, “and to try and cater to the single-issue voters and the single-issue pockets out there felt like I was compromising my beliefs. As an example, with the pro-life and pro-abortion debate, the most vocal people are on the ends. I am pro-life with exceptions, and people want you to be all or nothing.”

He added, “I am not a social-issue crusader. I am a free-enterprise crusader.”


Herman Cain today:

Herman Cain again attempted to clarify his position on abortion Sunday, declaring on CBS' "Face the Nation" that "I am pro-life from conception, period" - and that he does not support exceptions even for victims of rape and incest.

"I am pro-life from conception, period. If people look at many speeches that I have given over the years, that has and will still be my position," Cain told CBS' Bob Schieffer.

But there's more to this than the flip flop compounded by a lie about his past statements. Herman Cain's position here is interesting in that he also claims to be enough of a social libertarian that he would not actually enforce his views--whatever they may happen to be this week--on what women can do with their bodies:

"What I'm saying is, it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make," Cain said in that interview. "Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn't have to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive issue."

Cain doesn't believe legislators should be making those decisions. Interestingly, he doesn't qualify those statements with the word "federal," either, so presumably he's also against state legislatures making those decisions for families. Someone should definitely ask him about "states' rights" in that context. Which is more important to Cain: the right of women to be unencumbered by state legislators making decisions for their families, or the right of states to make misogynistic laws free from federal interference?

But on a broader level, Cain's flip-flop on abortion here is more proof that it doesn't really matter how "reasonable" a Republican candidate is on the issues or what his or her personal beliefs are. When push comes to shove, all of them will do precisely what their corporate benefactors and rabid base want them to do, because Republicans are more afraid of their base than of Democrats or squishy "moderates."

Democrats, meanwhile, are more afraid of "moderates" and the people who send the big checks than they are of their base. I believe that Barack Obama still supports a single-payer system:

“I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program.” (applause) “I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.”

Just like Herman Cain doesn't actually believe in no abortion without exceptions. But the fact is that neither of these guys is free to express their actual opinion--nor does their actual opinion matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

Once you reach the presidential level, politics is about power dynamics, not about individual character. Individual character matters more as you go farther down the ballot and legislators can put more of a personal stamp on their actions. But putting "good people" in the Oval Office office changes nothing. You have to change the system. Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry are essentially interchangeable pawns.

All the media discussion about the differences between them is essentially hot air designed to distract from what matters, which is organizational and power politics.


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