On the sadder side, it turns out that in this most anti-abortion administration that I can remember, abortion rates have gone up.
One of my favorite books in the world is Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, a stunning romp through the (usually grim) stories left out of or outright lied about in the usual presentations of American history. I particularly like the reality behind Abraham Lincoln, who wasn't really the shining icon of equality and liberation that we learn about in school and to whom Republicans liken themselves to support the cognitive dissonance underlying their party, particularly the minority and gay members. Lincoln switched his position on slavery pretty freely depending on who he was talking to. On July 10, 1858, during the Senate race against Stephen Douglas, which he lost, he said to an abolitionist crowd:
I should like to know, if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal on principle, and making exceptions to it, where will it stop? If one man says it does not mean a negro, why may not another man say it does not mean another man? If the Declaration is not the truth, let us get the statute book in which we find it and tear it out. Who is so bold as to do it? If it is not true, let us tear it out.Strong words. On September 18, 1858, to a pro-slavery audience:
I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.Riiiiiight. Some unspecified time after that, a newspaper accused Lincoln of supporting "negro suffrage", against which charge Lincoln vigorously defended himself. So much for the vision of a staunch abolitionist. Amusingly enough in this presidential election with an incumbent trying to convince us that a foolish consistency is better than even the appearance of indecision (leaving aside Bush's own lack of consistency for the moment), Lincoln's opponent, Senator Stephen A. Douglas, called Lincoln on his different opinions (following page as well). Lincoln responded to Douglas by splitting hairs that Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton could only aspire to. Though, in his defense, when slavery was The Issue Of The Day, people drew those sorts of distinctions as much or more than people draw fine lines now in discussions about the death penalty and abortion.
Lincoln finally let it slip in this famous letter to Horace Greeley.