Of course he vetoed it.
He doesn’t veto bloated budget bills (unlike Governor Mark Sanford, who, for all his faults, is at least a principled guy). He doesn’t veto bills that erode civil rights or dangerously expand Executive Powers. In his six years in the White House, the only bad bill to cross his desk apparently allowed him to set up an elaborate photo-op where he could deliver a Sunday sermon to a recalcitrant Congress: “This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others. It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect. So I vetoed it.” Surrounded by children born from frozen embryos that had been abandoned at fertility clinics, the President could show himself a protector of the innocent, a defender of our most cherished values, and a harrier in wild pursuit of his base.
Of course, the President signed the “fetal farming” bill outlawing a non-existent practice of growing human embryos for the specific purpose of harvesting them for medical research or treatment. Gruesome and morally repugnant, the bill passed Congress unanimously. There are few rational people who would suggest that such a practice ever occur. It was pandering as well, akin to outlawing genocide.
I’m hesitantly pro-choice. Not because I have doubts about whether a fertilized human egg is a full human being—it isn’t—but because abortion is always a tragedy, destroying as it does, the hope and promise of what could be. And yet, though I have agonized with a number of young women (and men) who have made this choice, I find it far better to enter the situation with grace than with judgment. I guess that makes me a liberal.
What today’s veto shows is that George Bush cares not a whit for governing, but for the eternal campaign. He basks, not in the drudgery of hard choices, but in the glory of easy answers. Even among evangelicals, his support is slipping, so what better to get them back on board but a handsome pair of custom-made base-warmers, guaranteed to burnish his street cred along the sawdust trail.
I’ll believe that Bush is really pro-life when I see him withdrawing support for Israel’s irrational attacks on Lebanese civilians, or refusing to violate the personhood of people suspected of being terrorists. Until then, it’s all Barnum, all sound and fury, vanity of vanities.