The Stupak Minimum

Editor’s Note: I’ve taken out the top of this post, which responded to Ramesh Ponnuru’s post about my NRLC criticisms. I’ve been saying we should not let this become a debate on abortion or other single issues and therefore don’t think I can justify in my mind continuing that conversation. But, the larger point on the “Stupak Minimum” is worth keeping as it plays to our larger goal — defeat of the health care legislation.As I wrote the other day,

I think the Stupak Amendment was an instance of the pro-life community not seeing the forest for the trees and it should have been opposed. But I am willing to admit I could be wrong. What I do know is that the House Republican Leadership has been very, very good at combating the Democrats’ legislative agenda. That House GOP Leadership encouraged a vote for Stupak should not be second guessed lightly. It is a lot easier for me to Monday morning quarterback the vote than it was for these men and women on the front lines to make a decision.

I am not going to second guess them and, in fact, as I wrote this morning, I suspect there will be pro-life language in the final bill, but weak enough for pro-choice votes. After all, the Democrats will throw zealous abortion advocates under the bus as fast as lightening if the end result is a federal take over of 1/6th the American economy.It may, in fact, turn out that Stupak is the undoing of the health care bill. I don’t know and, again, won’t second guess the House GOP Leadership, which firmly believes it made the right call. Our presumption going forward should be that they made the right call, regardless of our personal opinions.More importantly, what I would suggest is that conservatives not turn the health care fight into a fight over abortion tactics and policy. The bill is two thousand freedom sucking pages of crap and is, with or without Stupak, very clearly not conducive to a culture of life. Abortion is only one aspect.Let me also suggest one strategy consistent with what I wrote this morning:

After the GOP is done demanding things come out, not be ameliorated or added, there will be no bill left that the left can support. Additionally, the GOP must orchestrate a strategy to put Democrats up for election in difficult positions — offering up amendments that the Democrats cannot say no to, but that take away votes from the overall legislation once agreed to.

The GOP and outside interest groups should now agitate for the “Stupak Minimum,” i.e. the Stupak amendment language must be the baseline for pro-life language in the health care legislation. Anything less should be opposed. The Democrats will never go for it. But above all else, we must remember the strategy must be to kill the bill, not improve it.