Michael Gerson’s latest Washington Post column is on Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) who compromised his pro-life beliefs in order to pass the Senate’s health-care bill. He opens this way:
Sometimes there is a fine ethical line between legislative maneuvering and bribery. At other times, that line is crossed by a speeding, honking tractor-trailer, with outlines of shapely women on mud flaps bouncing as it rumbles past.Gerson later writes:
Such was the case in the final hours of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s successful attempt to get cloture on health-care reform. Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the last Democratic holdout, was offered and accepted a permanent exemption from his state’s share of Medicaid expansion, amounting to $100 million over 10 years.
In the end, Nelson not only surrendered his beliefs, he also betrayed the principle of the Hyde Amendment, which since 1976 has prevented the coverage of elective abortion in federally funded insurance. Nelson not only violated his pro-life convictions, he also may force millions of Americans to violate theirs as well.Read the whole thing.
I can respect those who are pro-life out of conviction and those who are pro-choice out of conviction. It is more difficult to respect politicians willing to use their deepest beliefs — and the deepest beliefs of others — as bargaining chips.