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Opinion: Columnists

How Sarah Palin was right

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Sarah Palin is justly seen as a heroine in the pro-life community, someone who not only says the right things but in her own life has done them twice over. Not only did she give birth to and raise her Down syndrome baby, she did not pressure her unwed teenage daughter to do what many would consider the sensible thing -- ending the life of her unborn baby, before it could further encumber her own life.

Thus, pro-lifers could have done worse than listen to Sarah when she said Condi Rice would have been a "wonderful" person to round out the Republican ticket when Mitt Romney faces Obama this fall. Palin did not say she agreed with Rice, who describes herself as a "mild" pro-choicer, or that she wanted her to make social policy, but that she thought that as vice president (or even as president, should that ever happen), Rice would do the right-to-life movement no harm.

Palin bases this view on the fact that the vice president does not make social policy, and even if Rice did become president, the chance she would push a pro-choice agenda are nil. She is a foreign policy expert whose interest in social issues is minimal; she self-defines as part of the moderate middle; and she must know that if she ever came to be on the ticket, a pledge to renounce any kind of pro-choice agenda would surely be part of the deal.

A professional politician not known as a culture warrior before the 2008 season, Palin seems focused on what she thinks Rice would do while in office, whereas the professional activists who oppose the idea of her nomination seem to be focused on what they think she believes. They insist that she not only be operationally on their side of the issue -- as she would have to be to appear on a national ticket -- but that she FEEL about it the same way that they do, without which (apparently) actions are naught. It is a weakness of the pro-life movement that its members stress their own depth of concern on this issue as if this were an argument that ought to move other people. But it isn't. It wasn't. It never will be.

In 2007, when Rudy Giuliani seemed to be the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, many social conservatives said they would rather see a Democrat win than have their party polluted by a nominee who wasn't pro-life. But a President Giuliani would not have given us health care, with its abortion mandates and persecution of Catholics, an abortion fanatic like Kathleen Sebelius to enforce them, and two abortion supporters -- Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan -- to uphold the reforms in court.

The case for Condi as veep is that she appeals to the voters who seem up for grabs -- the independents who swung to McCain and then to Obama in the financial crisis -- and might tip the election in Romney's direction, leading to the repeal of health care and two or more Supreme Court appointments. That would be a gift beyond price to the pro-life adherents, a gift that could set the court's direction for years.

Who helps the pro-life movement the most? Someone who says the right things and makes the right speeches, or someone who strengthens its hand in the immediate future in fundamental and far-reaching ways?

Palin, whose instincts are keen, seems to have the right answer (as does New Hampshire's Republican senator, Kelly Ayotte, also pro-life, whom Mama Grizzly endorsed in the midterms). We could do worse than to listen to Mama. Mama does tend to know best.

Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."

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