What?! Lee voted for Dino Rossi?!!! I never knew. I guess that’s just one of those uncomfortable questions that never comes up in polite society… you know, like, “Do you find your sister sexy?” or “Who’s your favorite actor on the sit-com Two and a Half Men?”
As for his anti-Gregoire screed, Lee warned me last night that he had this particular post in the hopper, giving me the opportunity to edit or nix it in advance, but I chose not to even read it before it went live. Lee has the same deal here as the rest of my HA co-bloggers: he can write on whatever he wants whenever he wants, and in exchange, I can yank his posting privileges without warning. Nobody edits me, and I’m not about to edit them. I always knew Lee was one of those weird libertarianish kinda guys, and I never expected to agree with everything he posted, but he’s a sharp analyst and an entertaining writer, and that’s exactly what we shoot for here on HA.
But, you know, it is possible to go too far.
The impetus for Lee’s post is Gov. Gregoire’s comment on former Gov. Booth Gardner’s proposed assisted suicide initiative: “I find it on a personal level, very, very difficult to support assisted suicide.” To Lee, the governor’s position is hypocritical or worse:
I find it extremely difficult to understand how a person can see abortion as a fundamental right, but also see the right for a terminally ill individual to control their own death as being subject to other people’s moral qualms.
[…] As I was researching this post and looking for Gregoire’s past statements on abortion, you’ll find that it’s nearly impossible to find statements directly from her that affirm her support for a woman’s right to choose. In fact, this page reports that she told Archbishop Brunett in the meeting referenced above that as a Catholic, she was “against abortion.” At this point, I have no idea who’s really telling the truth. But what I do know is that if she really is pro-choice, her stance on assisted suicide clearly makes her a hypocrite. If I had to guess, I’d say her stance on assisted suicide is the real Gregoire and her pro-choice position is a pander.
I wholeheartedly agree with Lee in supporting assisted suicide legislation, but I think he jumps to conclusions regarding Gov. Gregoire’s position, and in general fails to display his usual sense of nuance. Gov. Gregoire told reporters that “on a personal level” she finds it difficult to support assisted suicide — but that doesn’t necessarily mean she would actively oppose Gov. Gardner’s initiative. Likewise, I find no hypocrisy in an elected official personally being “against abortion” yet fully supporting a woman’s legal right to choose. In fact, I’ve always assumed that as a practicing Catholic Gov. Gregoire accepts her church’s teaching that abortion under any circumstance is a sin. The significant difference between Rossi and Gregoire on this issue is that he would seek to impose his own morality through force of law, whereas she would not.
Without a doubt, the modern American politician I admire most is former Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York, a liberal icon and a devout Catholic who spoke thoughtfully and eloquently on this very issue. It has been well over a decade since I last read the text of the speech he gave at the University of Notre Dame on September 13, 1984 — “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective” — but with the GOP having since transformed itself into the Pro-Life Party and the defender of a Christianist America, Gov. Cuomo’s remarks are more pertinent now than ever. In this speech the governor reveals himself to be profoundly reverent of unborn life, and yet he distinguishes between his private role as a Catholic and his role as a public official:
As Catholics, my wife and I were enjoined never to use abortion to destroy the life we created, and we never have. We thought Church doctrine was clear on this, and – more than that – both of us felt it in full agreement with what our hearts and our consciences told us. For me, life or fetal life in the womb should be protected, even if five of nine Justices of the Supreme Court and my neighbor disagree with me. A fetus is different from an appendix or a set of tonsils. At the very least, even if the argument is made by some scientists or some theologians that in the early stages of fetal development we can’t discern human life, the full potential of human life is indisputably there. That – to my less subtle mind – by itself should demand respect, caution, indeed…reverence.
But not everyone in our society agrees with me and Matilda.
[…]The Catholic public official lives the political truth most Catholics through most of American history have accepted and insisted on: the truth that to assure our freedom we must allow others the same freedom, even if occasionally it produces conduct by them which we would hold to be sinful.
I protect my right to be a Catholic by preserving your right to believe as a Jew, a Protestant, or non-believer, or as anything else you choose.
We know that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might some day force theirs on us.
I do not ask Gov. Gregoire or any other politician to endorse my moral perspective or keep silent on their own, I only expect that they respect my right to act on my perspective freely. Likewise, I don’t expect Gov. Gregoire to hold the same legislative priorities as I do, and given the political reality, even a legislative attempt at codifying assisted suicide would not only be unlikely, it would almost certainly come back to voters in the form of a referendum. Gov. Gregoire was asked about assisted suicide and she honestly answered that “on a personal level” she would find it very difficult to support. I have no problems with that as long as she does not use the power and influence of her office to oppose the initiative.
As for Lee’s further critique, that Gov. Gregoire ran “a hollow campaign with no ideas,” and “nearly always reverts to the most authoritarian solutions”… well… I think he overstates the situation. She did not run a very compelling campaign in 2004 (hence Rossi’s near victory) and she’s not the kind of progressive champion most of us bloggers would prefer. But overall, within the pragmatic scheme of things, she’s been a good governor… and certainly far, far better than the alternative.
Lee voices regrets over his protest vote for Rossi, but says that at this point he can’t vote for Gregoire either. On this point and others, Lee is wrong. But as long as he doesn’t try to impose his beliefs on me, I’ll gladly permit him to continue posting his wrong beliefs here on HA.