Jon Stewart is faltering.
The First Voice of the American Realists must have smoked something that didn't agree with him, because he's vacillating toward pliability on The Defining Issue of Our Time. Last week, Stewart showed up completely unprepared, or possibly acquiescent for what he must have known was coming from the day Mike Huckabee's agent said "book it." Hucakabee spoke softly, carried a big stick, and a panoply factual misdirection. With these tools, he beat Stewart into fawning submission. In response, Jon could muster only "I'm pro-life."
Oh no he dit-int?
Oh yes, he did. And it's part of an increasingly distressing trend: Confronted with leadership, the liberal foundation cracks.
Last week Bill Maher urged us all to wake up to the laissez-faire reality of Disappointing Democrats. And sure, that was depressing. But you know, we expect nothing from Congress, right? They're all entrenched. The leadership has served since the Reagan years. They arrived on the Hill before cell phones, or the World Wide Web.
It's something else entirely to watch Jon Stewart fold in the face a mild-mannered Baptist cheeseburglar. If guys like Stewart wither, who'll stand up to God-in-Government freaks?
Huckabee struck early with a misdirection blow to the body of the pro-choice manifesto: "A human embryo has a heartbeat at 21 days," he said.
This proposition might seem to diminish the trimester formula so vital to the jurisprudence of a woman's right to her own body. Is Huckabee exaggerating? Of course he is.
Two tubes fuse together into an S-shape, and cardiac muscle contraction begins. You can call it a heartbeat if you want. Call it The Beginning of Life, if you prefer. Call it Ted for all I care.
Here's what Ted looks like:
A 21 Day Human Embryo — look like anyone you know?
My wrist has a heartbeat. My forearm is made up of nothing but human DNA and cells. Like a 21 day old embryo, the only thing preventing my wrist from attaining personhood is a massive suffusion of stem cells.
Other than that, my forearm is a person.
Huckabee's misdirection continued: "93% of abortions are elective abortions," he said, and added that "it has nothing to do with the health of the mother, it has nothing to do with the health of the baby" as if you should be outraged that most women get it abortions on time, before political extremists start breathing down their necks about whether it's viable, really necessary, or past the point where you should really have that choice anyhow.
This second barrage of touching irrelevancies winded Huckabee. So he had Jon run to the Green Room to grab him a couple of sandwiches and three Diet Cokes before continuing: "biologically and scientifically it's irrefutable" referring to the uniqueness of a (23 chromosome) + (23 chromosome) conflagration of human reproductive agents.
Again, it's true. Again, it's irrelevant. (But it makes one wonder how many millions of 23-chromosome-carrying cells Huckabee deposited in his own Kleenex by the time he was 16, and whether it still bothers him.)
On that note, I just farted a unique fart. I also just witnessed a sui generis melon-nibbling by our free-range hamster.
Unique happens all the time.
PERSON/NOT A PERSON
The question has never been whether a group of cells is unique. It's whether those cells constitute a person.
How can you tell? Just by looking? Well, even that can be deceiving.
Not a person
Formerly a person, no longer a person
Hominidae Hominina Homo sapiens: a person
Marilynidae Mansonica Equus ferus caballus: not a person
Not a person. Still not a person. Still not a person. Nope. Never going to be a person.
For all of Huckabee's heartfelt misdirection, Stewart might have said something a bit less appeasing than "I hope that people begin to see that both sides can come at it with good faith and good intentions and are not frenzied and maniacal on one side and callous and indifferent on the other."
Oh goodie, we can all get along.
Anti-abortion wackos (frenzied, maniacal or just really fat) will never compromise. They cannot digest science in the face of emotion.
They complain about Roe v. Wade and its legal reasoning. They call it "poorly written." I've never understood that tactic, unless it's Rovian. Roe is an elegantly constructed piece of reading, whether approached as literature or jurisprudence. It even relies on Biblical reasoning — the only extra-Constitutional citation anti-abortionists seem to countenance — to come to its fairly simple conclusion: At some point, a person becomes a person and thus accrues individual rights.
I ATTACK HUCKABEE
Mike Huckabee is really, really nice and friendly and also thinks the Constitution of the United States should be amended to accord with the Bible. It's that quiet, deadly combination of aplomb and dementia that makes charming dullards like Huckabee far, far more dangerous that easy targets like Sarah Palin or Randall Terry.
For a man as reason-neutral (and fat) as Huckabee to say the pro-choice person "hasn't thought through the logical implications" is an offense to lexicography. Huckabee represents a bastion of non-thought known euphemistically as "faith." Science and medicine are acknowledged by his flock, but not if they contradict the voices heard by homeless persons and desert wanderers of the first century (excepting those situations in which flock members use science and medicine in making personal decisions — rather than decisions they make for other people.)
Logic has nothing to do with it. If Mike Huckabee ever really "thought" rather than just "believed" he would likely have skipped his first career move (ordination, ministry) and gone straight into government. He also would never have gotten so fat.
But who needs logic anyway? A polemic needs no logic if one's interviewer merely nods, accepts all the propaganda at face value, and then quietly weeps in a corner.
Okay, now I'm exaggerating. If you saw the uncut interweb version; you know that Stewart merely pandered. He didn't actually lick Huckabee's cornhole, he merely browned his nose in it. The version that went out to the unspoiled millions made Stewart seem closer to Ed Meese than Ed Murrow.
Jon did not even challenge Huckabee's "health of the mother" bullshit. Huckabee can't even take care of himself much less presume to force an entire new life's path on a woman just because some dude was too drunk to pull out, or whatever. (Huckabee would naturally be non-empathetic to the concept of pulling out because persons of his girth are not able to support themselves in male superior position.)
Please Jon Stewart: recognize that you are our foremost ambassador to the world's mover/shakers. Tremble a bit about it if necessary. But stop with the "oh no, I'm not the newsperson, we are fake news" response.
You may believe yourself to be at "the squishy middle" of the abortion debate. But whether you wanted the mantle, you are the spokesman, even the leader of a generation of potentially reasoned people.
Don't screw this up.