Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Many in the Gop Cannot Combine the Words Tolerance and Abortion

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Many in the Gop Cannot Combine the Words Tolerance and Abortion

Article excerpt

Now for a break in the campaign inaction. A virtual issue has arisen suddenly, bringing hope to political reporters everywhere. Yes, there may yet be a story, i.e., a conflict, at the Republican National Convention. At last, a reason to tell their editors and loved ones they must be in San Diego in mid-August rather than say the office, Martha's Vineyard or the back yard.

But back to the story. The virtual issue this time is whether the Republicans are going to tolerate tolerance. And how much of it. Whether they can agree that it is possible for Republicans to disagree on the subject of abortion without being excommunicated by the true believers.

Last weekend, the Candidate-in-Waiting said that he wanted to add a generic, if coy, reference to the need for "tolerance" in the Republican platform. This was considered a subtle and savvy way to carve out a teensy piece of common ground on abortion in the churning party soil.

But the Flap or Flip-Flap began when Dole said that tolerance shouldn't just be relegated to the platform preamble. It should be out there in the abortion plank itself.

Now you may wonder why the fuss over words in an arcane and generally irrelevant party document. As a wordsmith, let me help you. A platform is what you stand on, a plank is what you walk out on, and you are absolutely right. There's no serious difference between putting these words in one place or another except in the eyes of the pro-life sentinels assigned the task of divining any waffling from the (Republican) party line.

Pro-lifers have long had doubts about Dole the way they had about George Bush. They suspect that the former Senate majority leader wishes the whole subject would disappear.

In truth, Bob Dole sounds as comfortable talking about abortion as the network anchors sounded the first time they uttered the word "tampon" during stories about toxic-shock syndrome. He once said disconsolately that "if war were declared tonight and I went on a talk show, the first question would be abortion."

The most fervent pro-lifers want a crusader at the top of the ticket. Now, they're afraid they're getting a professional soldier with a rather low-key rallying cry: "Onward Christian Soldiers . …

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