26 November 2007

A Better, Shorter Answer

Yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Fred Thompson an odd question. Mr. Wallace asked if a President Thompson would allow states to enact laws regarding abortion that he does not personally agree with. He asked this not long after asking two straight yes or no questions, if life begins at conception and if abortion is the taking of life, and getting a straight yes to both questions.

Mr. Thompson’s answer to the states question, however, was not as forceful as it could have been. What Mr. Thompson could have come out of the chute with on the states question is something akin to, “The President is not a dictator. He should not, must not, and cannot simply force his will upon the people.” This would have been especially appropriate because, in framing the question, Mr. Wallace quoted Mr. Thompson as saying that “people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even [Fred Thompson] disagrees with; that’s what freedom is all about.”

While Mr. Thompson got the message out that states should have more autonomy regarding abortion in a way, he should have been more forceful about it. In the end, the viewer/listener is forced to use a quote from Mr. Thompson that Mr. Wallace uses in his framing of the question to really flesh out what Mr. Thompson believes in the matter.

Mr. Thompson did, however, give a convincing argument about how, if Roe v. Wade were repealed, then states could institute more restrictive laws regarding abortion. This, in Mr. Thompson’s estimation, would be more realistic than going after a Constitutional amendment regarding abortion because an amendment would probably never pass.

In the end, Mr. Thompson’s answers were fairly convincing, though muddled with back-and-forth and not as forceful as they could have been. He did his best when he stuck to explaining his beliefs and convictions; he wasted time talking about other candidates' records and positions.

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