Reagan Speech Writer Backs Obama

Jeffrey Hart, a former writer for The National Review and speech writer for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan has written that he plans to vote for Barack Obama, calling him the real conservative. He discussed conservative views as related to a few issues, including the Iraq war, and went on to some domestic issues where he prefers Obama’s views:

Social Security has long been considered one of the most successful New Deal programs, working well now for 70 years. Yet in 2005, the Bush plan to establish private accounts that could be invested in the Stock Market got nowhere. McCain, too, has embraced this idea. In 2008 it looks ridiculous. The Stock Market! Again, this is a radical proposal, not a conservative one.

Ever since Roe vs. Wade, abortion has been a salient controversy in our politics. But the availability of abortion is linked to the long advancement of women’s equality. Again, we are dealing with social change, and this requires understanding social change, a Burkean imperative that Obama understands.

On my Dartmouth campus, half the undergraduates are women. They do not want to have their plans derailed by an unwanted pregnancy. In Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the Court ruled that the availability of abortion “enables women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the country.”

Though there is a tragic aspect to abortion, as Obama recognizes, women’s equality means that women have control of their reproductive capability. Men don’t worry about that. The fact is that 83 percent of elective abortions occur during the first trimester, and decline rapidly after that.

Both Obama and McCain support federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, Obama more urgently. The conservative movement publications, following Bush, have been fiercely opposed. Such opposition required a belief that a cluster of cells (the embryo) the size of the period at the end of this sentence is as important (more important?) than a seriously ill human being.

I myself cannot fathom such a mentality.

In fact, embryonic stem cell research is being energetically pursued in the following nations: Israel, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, China cooperating with the EU. Privately funded and state funded laboratories are moving ahead vigorously.

Recently, Harvard announced a program that will be part of a multi-billion dollar science center to be established south of the Charles River, and will be able to supply stem cells to other laboratories. I call that Pro-Life.

This analysis could be extended, but it seems clear to me that Obama is the conservative in the 2008 election.

A couple of nitpicks: I don’t consider the idea of having a portion of Social Security money in the stock market as a radical idea. Bill Clinton even considered this. The real problem is that, since money from current workers is used to finance benefits to current beneficiaries, doing so would have reduced further the money available for the program. Like so many of Bush’s ideas, this was a fiscally irresponsible idea as he did not have a satisfactory plan to account for the decrease in payroll taxes available for benefits. Therefore I agree that this plan was not conservative by traditional definitions, even if for a different reason.

Funding for embryonic stem cell research is an even more important issue where I agree with Hart. A second nitpick is that, although McCain has been more supportive of this than most  conservatives in the past, during this year’s campaign he has hedged on support for embryonic as opposed to adult stem cell research. I fear that he would give in to pressure from the religious right on this issue if elected.

I doubt many conservatives would agree that Obama has the conservative viewpoint on abortion, but Hart does make an important point that most abortions occur in the first term. Later term abortions are rare, and Obama opposes them except for when the health of the mother is at risk. Conservative attacks on Obama based upon infanticide and “partial birth abortions” are total nonsense.

With so many conservatives backing Obama we see once again that Obama’s views are really in the mainstream of both liberalism and conservatism as practiced in this country for the past few decades. The current conservative movement is an extremist, authoritarian philosophy which has little to do with the views of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

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