Friday, August 30, 2019

Mayor Pete

A most remarkable exchange took place a while ago on Fox News. The network which appears to be starting to be take the "news" part of its name seriously, has held a series of "town hall" meetings with some Democratic presidential candidates, at least those who agree to appear on the network. Most notably, Elizabeth Warren has taken a pass on their invitation, calling the network a "hate for profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists"

In one such broadcast, South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg took questions from Fox anchor Chris Wallace and some audience members. The part of the broadcast that got the most attention was this exchange between Wallace and Buttigieg on the subject of abortion, especially those that take place during the final trimester of a pregnancy, late term abortions as they have come to be called.

Buttigieg has proven himself to be far and away the most thoughtful and articulate of all the Democratic candidates. His calling out at the first presidential debate of the hypocrisy of Republicans who support the current administration's policy of separation of refugee families at the US/Mexico border, AND still call themselves Christians, has become the stuff of legend.

But here during the Fox broadcast, he raised the bar even higher when he addressed the most contentious, controversial issue of our time, taking the simplistic rhetoric of the president's pandering to the religious right, and turning it on its head.

It didn't start out well. As you can see in the clip, after fielding a question from an audience member and giving a lukewarm response about his support for a woman's right to choose, a position the left has been weary of, Wallace pointedly asked the candidate what is his stance on "late term abortions." Buttigieg muttered something about hypothetical questions which Wallace rightfully called him on. He indicated this is not a hypothetical question, there are 6,000 of these procedures that take place every year in this country. Then, pulling a rabbit out of his hat, Mayor Pete laid it on the line:
Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a woman in that situation. If it is that late in your pregnancy, that means almost by definition, you have been expecting to carry it to term, we are talking about women who perhaps have chosen a name, women who have purchased a crib, families that get most devastating medical news of their lifetime, something about health or the life mother that forces them to make an impossible choice...
...that (terrible) choice is not going to be made any better medically or morally if the government is dictating how the decision should be made.
I've written in this space before about how I never felt comfortable with the absolutist ideologies of either the Pro-Life or Pro-Choice movements and struggled for years on how to come to terms with the issue of abortion. It's very clear from that dialog that Pete Buttigieg has struggled with the issue as well. Admittedly my conclusion is not a perfect one and neither is his, which from getting to know him for the past few months, I think he'd be the first to admit. I believe this because also at that first debate, when asked about the difficulties he is having in his city, specifically those relating to the relationship between the mostly white police department and the city's African American community, he responded by saying these problems still exist "because I didn't get the job done."

Imagine, a politician who takes responsibility when things go wrong.

What an idea.

If the primary were held today, I'd vote for Pete Buttigieg in a heartbeat.

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