August 18, 2008

Was Obama Referring to God on Abortion Issue?

Taranto (last item):

On the Other Hand, He Plans to Raise God's Taxes Through the Roof

Barack Obama is getting a bum rap for one comment he made during the Rick Warren forum:

Warren: Now, let's deal with abortion; 40 million abortions since Roe v. Wade. As a pastor, I have to deal with this all of the time, all of the pain and all of the conflicts. I know this is a very complex issue. Forty million abortions. At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?

Obama: Well, you know, I think that whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.

This brought the Republican Attack Machine out in full force. "Insulting and mendacious," says The New Criterion's Roger Kimball. "Evasive and unsatisfying," adds Commentary's Jennifer Rubin. National Review's Mark Hemingway calls it a "spectacularly inept metaphor" and writes, "News flash: There's not a job on the planet above the pay grade of the President of the United States."

It is left to blogress Ann Althouse to come to Obama's defense:

I'm pretty sure he meant to refer to God.

"Above my pay grade" is an expression of humility and submission to God: I don't purport to answer the question that belongs to God.

Obama just can't win with these right-wingers, can he? For months they've been blasting him for acting like the Messiah. Now they're attacking him for acknowledging he's not God.

Well, not yet, anyway.

I've never heard the expression used that way, as an allusion to the Divine. I know it isn't always purely literal: an engineer might say that about literary analysis, and a fiction writer might say that about the mechanics of building a bridge. But I've never heard it used by, say, a member of the clergy or another person of faith, in alluding to the Creator of the Universe of the Monotheistic Traditions.

Any chance that Althouse was right? Discuss.

Posted by Attila Girl at August 18, 2008 10:04 PM | TrackBack

Item the first: Blogress? WTF is that? Blog Progress? Why not Bloggist? Or Blogotrix? I didn't even know blogger was a maasculine noun. Geez. (Taranto was high, I just know it)

Item the second: I've used 'above my pay grade' to say something is not my decision to make, but someone 'higher up'. So, maybe.

Then again, I always thought 'We the People' trumped POTUS anyday, so maybe Body Odour was in fact referring to overturning Roe vs Wade and letting the states decide. Which would be the first intelligent thing he's said or done this entire campaign.

/yeah, right :)

Posted by: Gregory at August 18, 2008 11:16 PM

The explanation is "right" only if that word is defined as "defends Democrats."

And it was BS of the highest degree for Obama to make the claim in question, because he has never failed to let the destroyer come after the unborn. With every vote he has made as a legislator, he has voted that the destroyer may never be stopped. Looks to me like he thinks the call is rightfully his.

Posted by: John at August 19, 2008 03:46 AM

No. They way you express that is via this expresssion:

That's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay above my paygrade. Talk to the Big Man upstairs.

It comes down this:

With a straight face, Obama chastised others for not abiding by the precepts of Matthew 25, when he had a chance to do the same and failed. For example, instead of choosing to protect and care for the least of his brothers, the unborn, by supporting a bill that would protect those born alive after failed abortion attempts, he voted against the bill.

Source La Shawn Barber.

Posted by: I R A Darth Aggie at August 19, 2008 06:05 AM

HIs vote in Illinois on the "born alive during a botched abortion" business was indeed and extreme act, and he has been prevaricating about it ever since.

He was IN THE COMMITTEE that added language to that statewide bill (similar in wording to the later Federal bill) that specified that, should it become law, it would not redefine an UNBORN fetus as a person and become a threat to Roe v. Wade.

But he voted against it anyway, and later said that this was because the "protective language" was absent.

Full disclosure: I'm technically pro-choice, but I believe the numbers of abortions performed in this country annually are an obscenity, and that the extreme peer-group pressure placed on girls and women to have abortions often leads to a lot of heartache later on in their lives.

The reason no girl or woman with an unplanned pregnancy is given real counseling is that neither side trusts the other to counsel in an unbiased way--and they are right.

The ideal counseling would include the sort of statement that Western European girls were made to sign (and, as far as I know, still are): that they understand the gravity of the decision they are making. It would include a summary of what the adoption process works like these days, and a small warning that the girl/woman might regret her actions, years or decades later. It would not include the word "murder," but upon request it might include the fact that scientists and theologians concur: life begins at conception.

I remain pro-choice. But there is no getting around the fact that abortion is the taking of a human life.

Let the buyer beware.

(And, BTW: whenever I go to a feminist blog and explain that I was QUITE CERTAIN in my 20s and 30s that I would never "succomb to sentimentality" and begin to have mixed feelings about my abortion at the age of 20, I'm invariably called a "troll."

That is why I am only a feminist, rather than a Feminist. Small f only--no mau-mauing women into abortions, for me. And no defending the sexually predatory habits of whathisface--that guy I voted for twice, to my everlasting regret.)

Posted by: Attila Girl at August 19, 2008 11:26 AM

Althouse was almost right--he was deferring to Satan, the "Capo de Capos" of the Left.
Obama knows no directionality.

People expect leaders to have opinions on every issue that affects their life. When asked for that opinion, Obama chose the coward's way out. He had no opinion as a lawmaker when he was actually deciding the issue? Or at least facilitating it?

Posted by: Darrell at August 19, 2008 12:08 PM

I figured he was saying he wasn't a theologian or biologist and wasn't qualified to comment. I suppose he picked up the lingo during his long service in the armed services. I'd like a list of other topics he isn't qualified to comment on, I'm sure it would be lengthy but informative.

Posted by: Sejanus at August 19, 2008 03:27 PM

Well, the reason it struck me as odd is that he was campaigning for the most powerful position in the world, so to say "that's above my pay grade" sounds wimpy and dishonest, unless one is, in fact, alluding to the Divine, a thought that did not cross my idea at the time. But surely in a venue of that type if he had meant God, he should have said "God," or use one of His many nicknames? Why be shy in a venue of that type? Why be ambiguous, on such an important, resonant issue?

Posted by: Attila Girl at August 19, 2008 04:14 PM

OTOH, the Althouse explanation--or, by extension, perhaps, the Sejanus explanation--is the only one that makes any sort of logical sense.

Though the Sejanus explanation ignores the fact that Obama has attempted to legislate morality in this arena, which would seem to qualify him to comment upon it.

Posted by: Attila Girl at August 19, 2008 04:25 PM

If you use weasel words, you open yourself up to alternative explanations. So mine is just as valid as anyone's. So there!

As for not using "God", I'll have to excuse him because of his mentors. Glad he didn't forget himself and say "Marx." Or his favorite "Lenin." Then they have to purge the Net just like they did after his 2003 Chicago Magazine interview/article. Which if you think about it, is what Lenin himself would have done. If there was something to write on after the revolution, that is. And if the Net had existed.

Posted by: Darrell at August 19, 2008 05:23 PM

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