Scott Lemieux rips apart the conceit that John McCain is somehow a closet abortion rights activist who only plays a pro-lifer on TV. See, for instance, Jacob Weisberg in Slate, or Jon Chait in the New Republic. Among other things, McCain’s liberal defenders want us to believe that despite a lifetime record in the Senate of voting against abortion rights—including a zero rating from NARAL in 2004—the “maverick” would somehow pull away the mask and reveal his liberal colors if he ever made it to the White House.
That’s all very quaint, but come on. Look: In 2008 this country will elect a new president. Presumably sometime shortly thereafter the 86-year-old John Paul Stevens will retire from the Supreme Court. Replacing Stevens with a pro-life judge would provide the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Do we really think that as president John McCain, a man who voted without hesitation to confirm Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito despite serving in a pro-choice state—and a man who, as president, would be under unimaginable pressure from conservative interest groups and would need to satisfy “the base” to win re-election—would really nominate a pro-choice justice?
No, he wouldn’t. Whatever McCain’s “private” views might be, he will never be a pro-choicer when it counts. I can’t even see the theoretical case for thinking otherwise.