Monday, August 09, 2004

Dueling Opinions: Jobim's Sixth Response To Me

Jobim, possibly in conclusion:
I don't think my differences with [Finnegan] are merely an issue of
bringing one's biases to the table -- particularly as some of the claims are
contrary to our personal preferences.
A few concluding thoughts:

- [Finnegan] and I agree that appointees to the Supreme Court will
influence abortion policy -- either by continuing to prevent the imposition
of restrictions supported by most Americans (such as a ban on partial-birth
abortion -- which is sitll legal pending the outcome of current
litigation -- or requirements for spousal notification, etc.) or by allowing
states to adopt such restrictions. I think it's clear the latter is closer
to the "mainstream."

- [Finnegan] and I agree that the middle 38% -- that is, the group that
supports legislative restrictions -- represents the mainstream on abortion.
Whatever else Kerry has done in his career, he has opposed such restrictions
and said opposing such restrictions would be a litmus test for court
appointments. While Kerry's policies may have the result of reducing then
number of abortions, he has not done so by adopting policies supported by
this middle plurality on the issue. (And don't even touch "publicly
financed" abortion, as that one's a real political loser.) [Finnegan] may
believe that the focus on gruesome late-term abortions is a side-show to the
real issue of how to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies -- but that
goes to the merits of the issue, not to what the public does/doesn't

- I take it [Finnegan] and I now agree that, based on his record, one
cannot claim Kerry supports the "majority" position on gay marriage. At
best, it's a wash.
(Two side notes on the FMA: 1) I believe [Finnegan] has his timing wrong.
When Bush first embraced an FMA in his state of the union, it was not at all
clear what language would be brought up for a vote, and certainly not clear
that the Senate would refuse to consider language proposed by the Chairman
of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 2) If one supports a given policy goal --
in this case preventing the judicial imposition of same-sex marriage -- how
is it a flip-flop to support muiltiple vehicles to achieve that end?)

- On trade, the Clinton administration started strong with its supoprt for
NAFTA and then the WTO, but started to get worse in its capitulation to
labor and environmental activists (recall Clinton's disastrous comments in
Seattle that drove some developing countries from the table). GIvne [sic] Kerry's
rhetoric, the influence of such activists inhis campaign, and the fact that
free trade Democrats have all but disappeared since Clinton left office
(actually, since before he left office, as the WTO vote was carried by
Republicans), and one should be skeptical that Kerry would be very free
trade. Bush, on the other hand, started out terribly weak on trade (steel,
etc.), but has been getting better. I don't have an explanation for this,
but it's b een observed by centrist commentators (e.g. Dan Drezner). Given
that Bush's early missteps on trade were largely driven by political
considerations, I think it's reasonable to believe he'd be more free trade
than now in a second term.

This all began with my suggestion that Bush's electoral hand would be
strengthened if he made Kerry's Senate record the issue in the campaign. I
believe the above data points (with the possible exception of trade) suggest
this is so, as do others. Some because Bush's position is more popular (e.g.
support for the Patriot Act), or because they will affect swing
constituencies (e.g. guns).


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