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Cain is Right: He Was Taken Out Context on Abortion

Herman Cain is being falsely – or at best, incorrectly – accused of flipping his position on abortion. What he actually did was express a nuanced, if not particularly well worded, opinion on what happens if abortion is considered in cases of rape or incest.

Let’s look at the interviews that have gotten him into trouble, one with Piers Morgan of CNN and the other with John Stossel of Fox. If you read closely, I think it’s clear that the rabid Commentariat has taken him out of context. And the press, whether by mistake, out of laziness or due to hostility to a conservative, has not done due diligence.

This is a transcript of the interview with Morgan.

MORGAN: What’s your view of abortion?

CAIN: I believe that life begins at conception and abortion under no circumstances — and here’s why.

MORGAN: No circumstances?

CAIN: No circumstances.

MORGAN: Because many of your fellow candidates — well, certainly, some of them — qualify that.

CAIN: They qualify it, but

MORGAN: rape, and incest, and so on.

CAIN: rape and incest

MORGAN: Are you honestly saying — a tricky question, I know

CAIN: a tricky question

MORGAN: You’ve had children, grandchildren

CAIN: Yes

MORGAN: If one of your female children, grandchildren was raped, you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?

CAIN: See, you’re mixing two things here, Piers.

MORGAN: Why?

CAIN: You’re mixing two things here.

MORGAN: But that’s what it comes down to.

CAIN: What it comes down to is not the government’s role or anybody else’s role to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you’re not talking about that big a number. So what I’m saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president. Not some politician. Not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family, and whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t try to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive decision.

MORGAN: But by expressing the view that you’ve expressed, you are effectively telling them. You might be president. You can’t hide behind the mask of being the pizza guy. You might be president of the United States of America. So your views on these things become exponentially massively more important. They become a directive to the nation.

CAIN: No they don’t. I can have an opinion on an issue without it being a directive on the nation. The government shouldn’t be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to a social decision that they need to make.

MORGAN: That’s very interesting, that’s a very interesting departure from the normal politics.

CAIN: Exactly.

And now here’s the one with Stossel.

CAIN: I’m pro-life from conception, yes.

STOSSEL: Any cases where it should be legal?

CAIN: I don’t think government should make that decision.

STOSSEL: People should be free to abort a baby?

CAIN: I support life from conception. No, people shouldn’t just be free to abortbecause if we don’t protect the sanctity of life from conception, we will also start to play God relative to life at the end of life.

STOSSEL: So I’m confused on what your position is.

CAIN: My position is I’m pro-life. Period.

STOSSEL: If a woman is raped, she should not be allowed to end the pregnancy?

CAIN: That’s her choice. That is not government’s choice. I support life from conception.

STOSSEL: So abortion should be legal?

CAIN: No, abortion should not be legal. I believe in the sanctity of life.

STOSSEL: I’m not getting it. I’m not understanding it. If it’s her choice, that means it’s legal.

CAIN: No. I don’t believe a woman should have an abortion. Does that help to clear it up?

STOSSEL : Even if she is raped?

CAIN: Even if she is raped or the victim of incest because there are other options. We must protect the sanctity of life and I have always believed that.

It’s very clear here that when Cain says government shouldn’t make the decision, he is responding not to requests for an opinion on abortion generally, but to questions about abortion in the cases of rape or incest. Here’s his explanation of what he was trying to say to Morgan:

I simply said, if you get pushed to that extent, the family isn’t going to be thinking about what the laws are at that point.

That makes perfect sense in the context of the conversations. He’s saying that the situation is so bad, that whatever the laws, in this very small number of nightmarish cases, people aren’t going to be looking to the government for guidance, and he as president isn’t going to be giving it.

Cain’s misfortune, as the only non-politician in the race, is that he has lived exclusively in the real world. He is discussing reality here, which is that some things are so horrible that people are going to do what they want, and that he as president isn’t going to preach to them about the choice they should make.

Nor is he an attorney who carefully lays out his argument with neat little caveats that have as much to do with using semantics to obscure meaning as they do with clarifying it. He didn’t put it as clearly as he could have, but he is also dealing with a subtlety that doesn’t work well in the grinding, instant-analysis media environment we have.

It’s actually a more intellectually sophisticated position than those of his critics and his GOP opponents. He’s saying abortion should be illegal in all cases, because government should not be condoning the taking of life. And once it does this in the earliest stages of life, it gets license to do it in the latter stages too.

But IN THE REAL WORLD, people who are faced with abortion decisions in cases of rape or incest are going to do what they’re going to do, and the government really isn’t going to try to find them and come after them for it.

He’s a real person who said a real thing that a mistaken, lazy or hostile press rushed to interpret. And they and the talking heads who are their TV appendages got it wrong.

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22 Responses to Cain is Right: He Was Taken Out Context on Abortion

  1. Cain is a non-politician? He’s run for President before for goodness sake. He’s run for office at least two times before that. He’s been running for years now. If you win elections you are a politician, but if you continually lose elections you don’t get that title? His lack of mouth control is his problem. Just like Perry with that Obama birth certificate nightmare. Cain’s problems are not due to lack of experience, but just simple lack of articulation.

    • Shannon, he ran two short races that he quickly lost, so I don’t consider that a professional politician. I agree, his ability to communicate his ideas is not always good, but I’m really just commenting on this particular instance, not making general statements about Cain.

      • Fair enough. He’s run twice, but he’s been involved in politics since before 2000 (1996 Senior Advisor to Dole/Kemp Campaign) in one way or another. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy and would love to vote for him. I just think it is a stretch to excuse him for lack of political experience. Good write up.

  2. Excellent analysis Keith. Herman Cain has a rare trait in politics — he is an honest man. He says what he means and he means what he says. He is under fire from both sides now – the establishment Republicans (RINOS), who are trying to anoint Romney as our choice, and the progressive Democrats, who realize he can beat Obama in an election. The more the political class tears at him, the more endearing he is to the American people. One thing I’m sure of, we aren’t going to let them tear Herman Cain apart, like they did Sarah Palin. I still haven’t made up my mind who to vote for, but Herman Cain is looking better and better every day.

    • Susan, you and I seem to be seeing the same things lately.
      I agree with you about Cain. The more I watch him & listen to him, the more I like. Maybe I missed it in Keiths article, but one of the most outspoken political talking heads has been Bret Hume. Hume went as far as to say that this “gaffe” that Cain “made” concerning abortion has doomed his run. All along I felt that there was something missing about this story and Keith exposed it. Now, where does that put Hume and the others?
      The RINO’s still think that they have the power. They have dismissed what happened in 2010 and the Tea Parties before that. They too will be cleaned out eventually. But until then we have to deal with them like we do with the progressives.
      I feel the same way, the more that they tear at him the more I like him.

  3. I am pro-life and believe that life begins at conception. I pray that all children would be welcomed as a gift from God and a promise of a better future for all mankind.

    But, I remember when abortion was illegal, when women risked their lives for the back-alley kitchen table abortion. Menopausal women committed suicide rather than give birth to a ‘defective’ child. Doctors and midwives smothered or ignored children born with ‘defects’. Women who had little or no access to birth control were exhausted with multiple births and too many children to feed. Orphanages operated in every major city, filled to capactiy with unwanted children. Young girls were literally thrown out of their family homes for getting ‘knocked up’ and assigned the title of slut or whore, no matter their age or how they got pregnant. Rapists could escape prosecution by claiming their victim ‘asked for it’ and if the victim was impregnated by their attacker that was their punishment.

    Now that abortion on demand is legal in the US, the unintended consequence of using this procedure as a means of birth control is what should be addressed.

    • All true, SrDem–I remember a friend of my sister’s getting an illegal abortion in DC–she came over after someone put wooden matchsticks in her and started bleeding like mad–we took her to the hosp. It was very memorable.

    • Well said srdem. I agree with you — life begins at inception. I don’t believe it is the government’s role to legislate morality. The problem with the progressives who endorse abortion as a means of birth control is, like everything else, they always want more. It is not good enough that abortion is now accepted in our society, they now encourage horrendous acts like partial-birth abortion. Young teenage girls are transported to abortion clinics by school nurses without the advice or consent of their parents. To add to the injustice, we now pay for these abortions through our taxes. We can’t turn back the clock on abortion, but we can take the government out of the role of encouraging and financing this most heinous act.

      • Absolutely, Susan! Make it elective just like plastic surgery and lasik eye surgery. If you want one, great, you get one. But you pay for it, not me.

        Women now have complete and utter access to any kind of birth control they want. It’s open, talked about and encouraged. How has that helped the abortion rate? It hasn’t, it’s just become one more choice.

    • I’m pro-life as well. And I also remember, as Srdem has reminded us, of the awful illegal abortions performed prior to 1973.

      But, ponder this stat: TOTAL ABORTIONS SINCE 1973:
      52,008,665

      How many Einsteins, etc. have we lost? God help us.
      I’m with Herman on this one…

      • Those 52 million missing Americans are why Bush and others using demographic studies believe we need our immigrants, or we will become extinct. Much like the Russians: 2 out of 3 pregnancies end in abortion.

        It makes you want to cry.

  4. I’m even more of a Cain supporter after reading these interviews. He is able to licidly seperate his feelings and ideals from the office of the presidency, and what is ‘right’ for the country. He’s 10 times the man that OCommie is.

    His ideas are spot on with my thoughts on abortion. Something THAT controversial should NOT end up in control of the federal government, and should be pushed ALL THE WAY DOWN to the individual if at all possible. What a stark contrast to Ocommie, who thinks the feds should make every decision for everybody.

    I’m pro-life myself, but as difficult as it is (either way), should I be able to force my ideals on the next person? (no)

  5. Kieth, thank you for the insightful analysis. I’ll enjoy forwarding the link to your column and following future contributions.

  6. “He’s a real person who said a real thing that a mistaken, lazy or hostile press rushed to interpret. And they and the talking heads who are their TV appendages got it wrong.”

    Well thank God Herman has a friend like you in the press to interpret for him, because this guy must have a pretzel for a tongue. “People shouldn’t be free to abort”, but if a woman wants to “That’s her choice. That is not government’s choice.” Legal abortion? He’s forgainst it!

    Talk about reaching a fork in the road and taking it.

  7. Mr K….I really enjoy reading your posts….your wit is terrific…..I especially enjoyed your piece on the politics of cats and dogs…it almost made me get a cat to replace the dog…..
    Your “end of Cain” post is quite misguided…..J.Martin is obviously a friend with whom you have nothing in common politically but, it seems, some other bond….maybe he’s your brother-in-law or something like that…
    By your numbers..
    1. what makes you ‘believe the allegations are true’….it probably went down something like this…..two NAGs saw something they thought, or were lead to believe, they could make a pile of money on….they did not…..Cain probably said something like “you really look good today”….Cain DID NOT pay any hush money….when the allegations were made Cain recused himself and asked the NRA board to investigate and decide what to do….they did and found the allegations to be baseless…they fired the NAGs and gave them a small , two figure severance pkg…..if it were 60-80K it would have been reported as a ‘high two figure pkg’….if it was 25-45K it would have been reported as medium, so it obviously was around 10K….
    2. the allegations are true but obviously not serious or they would have been reported as such…..I wonder how Martin reported on Senator Kennedy, drunk driving his car off a bridge and watching a woman drown…you will see no other allegations surface…..Martin is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill to further his political agenda…..reporters should not have a political agenda….Martin , in my view, is scum…
    I could go on but should close….I know you are a busy man…..