Mayor Giuliani's abortion talk gets more and more muddled. For starters there was his debate performance - where he was for and against and for and against abortion (passionately). Then, last week he gave a major speech saying he was absolutely and totally for abortion rights:
"I believe abortion is wrong," he said. But out of respect for other people's fervent support of abortion, he said, "I would grant to women the right to make that choice."
Giuliani said his views have evolved, but those two "core beliefs" always have and always will guide him.
"It means I am open to considering ways to limit abortion," he said. "It means I'm open to seeking ways to reduce the number of abortions."
"Core beliefs" - it doesn't get much stronger than that. Your "core beliefs" are those things that define you, those things that you hold to be true, those things that you will fight for with all that you have. So Giuliani holds core beliefs about protecting a woman's right to choose. Ok.
Sunday, he said was open to appointing Supreme Court justices who might be open to overturning Roe v. Wade. Huh?
"I'm going to select strict constructionist judges. They're free to take a look at Roe against Wade, take a look at the limitations, but I believe I should leave it to them to decide that."
He is, to borrow a favorite conservative phrase, behaving downright "Clintonian." He is trying to have it not just both ways on an issue but every way. And that is alarming, because a man who isn't willing to fight for his core beliefs is a man who is likely incapable of fighting for any beliefs. I presume that Giuliani also holds as a core belief that racism is wrong and Brown v. Board of Education correctly decided. But would he be open to having that overturned just as easily as Roe?
There is, of course, method to this apparent political madness. Giuliani is trying to have the impossible apple. He knows how adored he is by conservatives for his get tough, no nonsense leadership. We wouldn't have screwed up Katrina, would have had heads roll for Abu Ghraib, would never have allowed Walter Reed and most of all wouldn't have let the Iraq War become the Iraq Quagmire. He also knows, of course, that conservatives tend to be socially conservative as well - they don't like abortion.
So his campaign bet is that he can convince conservatives that even though he is pro-choice that he will appoint "strict constructionist" judges to the bench who will rule in a pro-life way. Interesting gamble for conservatives - after all, they have already seen what he does with his "core beliefs".