Using COVID-19 to Attack Amy Coney Barrett’s Nomination Is Beyond Absurd

Olympus has spoken.

Michael Gerson, a Washington Post columnist and former speechwriter for the George W. Bush administration, has proclaimed that President Donald Trump blinded pro-life supporters into trading mass death at the hands of COVID-19 in exchange for a false promise of lives saved from abortion.

In an absurd column in this most absurd of years, Gerson portrays Trump as a “mad king” and pro-lifers as his “blind subjects” willing to make “fairy-tale deals.”

The occasion for Gerson’s rancor is, of course, the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gerson has the good sense not to attack the overwhelmingly impressive Barrett, a woman of historic quality and ability. Instead, ripping a page out of the tattered playbook of COVID-19 panic, Gerson fumes about what he says may have been a “superspreader” event Sept. 26 at the White House to introduce Barrett to the nation.

With no more evidence than supplied in other fairy tales, Gerson suggests that pro-lifers accept “tens of thousands of unnecessary COVID-19 deaths.”

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How grim can one get?

Call it the new sport of death-shaming. See a novel and dangerous virus circle the globe and take vulnerable lives nearly everywhere, and affix to it the name of the political leader you most despise. See deaths occur among the medically vulnerable, particularly in states helmed by liberal governors, and draw up an indictment—“conviction first, then the trial,” to paraphrase Lewis Carroll—not against those governors but against the opposing party’s leader.

And do it with all the moral preening of a man who never has tired of telling us that President George W. Bush had the honor of speaking the words Gerson putatively wrote for him.

At least a little humility is in order here. Naming a Supreme Court justice is one of the most important responsibilities a president has under the Constitution. It is exercised when an opening occurs on the court due to retirement, age, illness, or death of a sitting member.

The process of nomination and confirmation is outlined in less than a single sentence in Article II, Section II of the Constitution. Trump and the Republican Senate majority are following the terms of the article to a T.

Now the nation has the chance to elevate to its highest court a woman whose record as a law school student at Notre Dame (No. 1 in her class); an esteemed professor of law (three times chosen by students as the best member of the faculty); a mother to seven children (two of whom are adopted and one has special needs); and a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals marks her as one of the most qualified nominees ever.

Who’s the real Amy Coney Barrett? Here’s what some of her former students and clerks have to say:

Olympus opines that pro-lifers are wantonly trading COVID-19 deaths for the lives they hope to save by ending the scourge of abortion. Gerson adds that a reversal of Roe v. Wade “may or may not influence the total number of abortions.”

We, he says, are “excusing the king’s [sic] reckless waste of human life during the pandemic in exchange for a highly speculative prospect.”

With all due respect, what twaddle. If any change in abortion rates under a reversal of Roe is merely speculative, why are liberals fighting so viciously to vilify Barrett over the issue?

If the issue were of the scant importance Gerson suggests, why did the president he served and reveres say he was working for the day when the unborn are “welcomed in life and respected in law”? Perhaps these are words of the president’s that Gerson does not claim as his own.

Pro-lifers for their own part do revere those words.

Through all the decades when some in government were “crafting” phrases like “compassionate conservatism,” pro-lifers were building the reality.

They were establishing more than 2,700 pregnancy help centers that see and serve millions of clients every year. They were providing alternatives to abortion; providing escape routes from sex trafficking and opioid addiction; delivering prenatal care; identifying, treating, and counseling about sexually transmitted diseases. And they were doing so, typically, at no cost to either clients or taxpayers.

No one doubts that Gerson can turn a phrase. But he may be even more adept at turning on former allies—those benighted blue-collar folks who make no speeches from Olympus, but merely labor in the trenches for life and want to protect everyone’s right to live.

 

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