Abortion v. Common Ground

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Daniel Schultz, Streetprophets’ quondam Pastordan now blogging under his own name at Religion Dispatches, makes a strong if slightly musty case against the “common ground” initiatives embraced by a number of centrist religious operations to garner support for Obamaite domestic policy over the past year. It’s slightly musty because, in the current Tea Party moment, we haven’t heard much of late about commongroundism.

Schultz’s case in point is abortion and, as usual, his principal bête noire
is Jim Wallis, who was rather more disposed to blame those on the left for refusing to compromise than those on the right. Any fair reading of health care reform, however, shows that when push came to shove, it was the other way around. Most importantly, it became clear that the pro-life forces were unprepared to compromise because they wanted health care reform to fail–that is, for them abortion was, at the end of the day, a pretext.

No doubt the most hard-faced pro-lifers will argue that the best thing for the cause is to get the GOP back in power by whatever means necessary–and that would include rejecting even the whole loaf on abortion in Obamacare. But for that very reason, it’s incumbent on the commongroundniks to face up to what happened, and to own up the limits of their philosophy. They will say, no doubt, that the common ground strategy must go forward, just on those issues where common ground is possible–immigration, climate change, financial reform. Fair enough, but abortion was always the big enchilada, and on abortion, the thing didn’t work.