Friday, June 03, 2005

Bush on Abortion

For the past several years, Bush's mantra on abortion has been that "every child born or unborn ought to be protected in law and welcomed in life." That's what he said campaigning in Iowa in 1999. He has used the same phrase (sometimes as "welcomed in life and protected in law") on numerous occasions: While campaigning in February 2000, in an October 2000 debate with Gore, in a 2000 interview, in his 2001 message to the March for Life, in a presidential proclamation for the National Sanctity of Life Day in 2002, in a similar proclamation in 2003, in an October 2004 debate with Kerry, in his message on signing the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, in his 2005 message to the March for Life. There are probably other occasions that I haven't come across.

The phrase apparently originated in this 1996 statement published in First Things magazine. It was entitled, "The America We Seek: A Statement of Pro-Life Principle and Concern." It included this sentence: "Our goal is simply stated: we seek an America in which every unborn child is protected in law and welcomed in life." I had never noticed this connection before, and -- as far as LEXIS and Google are concerned -- neither has anyone else.

Some would say that Bush has been using "code words." But it is not a very successful use of code words, if only a handful of people in the entire country would know what Bush has been quoting.


Blogger P. G. said...

Which is worse? Code words or plagarism?

1:01 PM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

I don't think it's either one. Bush or a speechwriter obviously saw that phrase long ago, thought it sounded nice, and Bush has been using it ever since. But it's not as if Bush (or any politician) is expected to speak with footnotes for every turn of phrase.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neuhaus (the editor of First Things), has spoken with Bush on these issues several times, and says that he gave Bush the line.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Baar said...

Plagerism is fine in public life as long as one gives acknowledgement as I'm sure Bush would here. We're not making our President take finals, we're asking him to articulate public policy; and if someone else does it well, use their words.

I'm a computer programmer. If someone has already coded an algorithim, my boss would be upset if I started from scratch. Same thing here.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the "While We're At It" section of the May, 1994 edition of First Things, Father Neuhaus mentions, in passing, "the goal of the pro-life movement, that every unborn child be protected in law and welcomed in life." That is the first mention in First Things of anything similar to the "every unborn child" slogan. A version of the slogan appeared in an August 15, 1994 National Review article written by George Weigel and William Kristol, who do not give credit to Father Neuhaus for it but instead refer to it as something that they had previously said ("as we have said, every unborn child...."). If President Bush were obligated to give credit for the slogan based on the "We Hold These Truths" statement, it is unclear to whom he would give the credit. The "We Hold These Truths" statement was signed by 24 people when it was issued on July 4, 1997 and by 46 people when it was reprinted in First Things in October, 1997.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Michael W. McConnell" signed the document...

...just an observation to keep in mind, if Judge McConnell happens to be nominated to the Supreme Court.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

Thanks, anonymous. I wasn't aware that the phrase originated with Neuhaus in 1994.

10:28 AM  
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