"If you lie about this, what else will you lie about?" asked Bill Bradley of Vice President Al Gore in a recent debate. He was talking about Mr. Gore's mischaracterization of his plan for universal health insurance. A few days later, Mr. Bradley got his answer. Mr. Gore would lie about his position on abortion. I've frequently quoted from Mr. Gore's 1984 letter to a constituent in columns and in public speeches, but apparently it isn't news until the big media boys decide it's news. In that letter, Mr. Gore said it was his "deep personal conviction that abortion is wrong." That sure is a lot stronger than the pathetic "personally opposed, but" rhetoric to which pro-choice politicians usually treat us. You might be justified in thinking that someone who holds a deep personal conviction would be unmovable, as most are on civil rights. How could anyone rationally favor civil rights, then become a segregationist? As a senator, Mr. Gore voted to amend the Civil Rights Act to define the term person to "include unborn children from the moment of conception." By 1988, Mr. Gore had caught the political pragmatism virus. As a presidential candidate that year, Mr. Gore brazenly denied casting such a vote and claimed in his new incarnation as a pro-choice politician: "I have not changed.... I have always been against anything that would take away a woman's right to have an abortion." Mr. Gore tried that line again in New Hampshire when reporters began inquiring about his 1984 letter and pro-life voting record, but this time it didn't work. After three days of denials and stonewalling, Mr. Gore was forced to acknowledge that he once held another position. In other words, he lied. Mr. Gore is in good (or bad) company on abortion. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt once made persuasive pro-life statements until he decided he wanted to be president. So did Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rev. Jesse Jackson. So did Bill Clinton. You can't get the Democratic Party's presidential nomination if you are pro-life, so politicians are willing to sacrifice their supposed "convictions" (not to mention 39 million babies) on the altar of political expediency. Now that Mr. Gore has been outed by the big media, the question reporters ought to be asking him is why did he switch? Most people who change their positions on abortion go the other way-from pro-choice to pro-life. And they give good reasons, often citing the disgust they felt when exposed to pictures of aborted babies, or, in the case of abortionists, when the carnage caught up with their consciences. But how does one go from pro-life to pro-choice? Did Mr. Gore see a sonogram and decide that what he saw looked something other than human? Did he contemplate the life growing inside his oldest daughter as she nourished the earliest stages of his grandchild's development and think that the child wasn't alive until it was born? Is he unaware of the thousands of facilities available to women for free counseling, adoption services, and parenting help (not to mention baby clothes, cribs, and job advice)? Surely he knows that every argument in favor of abortion raised 30 years ago has now been answered. Pro-choice politicians and women who seek abortions have to deny a lot of truth and believe the lies that the financially lucrative abortion industry tells them. There is no rational way someone who has developed "deep personal convictions" can so easily abandon them in favor of the opposite position. What does this say about the depth of anyone's convictions? What does it say about the learning process that leads one to form convictions about anything? While Mr. Bradley gets no points for "always" favoring "a woman's right to choose," any more than a segregationist might receive credit for being a racist longer than his opponent, he has raised the central question concerning Mr. Gore's presidential candidacy. If Mr. Gore lies about this issue, what else is he lying about? What other lies would he tell, has he told, in order to enhance his career?
-© 2000, Los Angeles Times Syndicate