Conservatives Want to Know Why Obama Isn't Weighing in on #Gosnell

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 15 2013 1:50 PM

Conservatives Want to Know Why Obama Isn't Weighing in on #Gosnell

If Intrade were still around, I'd have bet on Fox News asking the first Gosnell question at an Obama presser. And I would have won.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

President Obama is aware of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell’s murder trial, but White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wouldn’t speculate about whether Obama might not support legislation such as the Born Alive Act that he opposed as a state senator.
“You’re asking for hypotheticals about legislation or proposed legislation that I haven’t seen,” Carney replied when Fox News’ Ed Henry asked if Obama, having voted against a Born Alive Act in the Illinois state legislature, thought the Gosnell case suggested there was a need for such a law.

It's a fairly bonkers question, because the federal Born Alive act was enacted 11 years ago. This is why Gosnell's on trial for multiple murders. Obama's own story about the Illinois bills is a little thorny--if you're inclined to believe he "voted for infanticide," the differences between the state and federal bills won't matter to you--but it's pretty moot now.

It's moot unless you want to find a case of hypocrisy.

These kinds of arguments remind me of what George C. Scott said when he turned down his Best Actor Oscar for Patton: It wasn't fair for him to take the award, when his competitors didn't get a chance to play the same role. Criminal Case X isn't Criminal Case Y. When Obama commented on Trayvon Martin, accused killer George Zimmerman had been let go by police. That was why the Martin story metastisized. When the president commented on the arrest of Henry Louis "Skip" Gates (disclosure: He's the founder of Slate's sister mag, The Root), there was no criminal case. The charges against Gates were dropped on July 21, 2009; Obama was asked about Gates at a July 22, 2009, press conference.

Why shouldn't a president comment on a case that's reached the trial stage? Oh, so many reasons.

Now, if the question is "Why doesn't Obama have to squirmingly answer an abortion question the way he answered those other questions" ... well, yes, that's interesting. But we already know what the guy thinks of abortion (should be mostly legal) and of murder (shouldn't be).

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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