This idiotic story revolves around the statements of MSNBC's Chris Matthews during the pre-debate coverage of Tuesday night's Presidential Debate. While a full transcript of what Mr. Matthews stated is not available, here is the short version. Matthews was talking about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's position on the issue of abortion and to say he denounced their position would be something of an understatement (courtesy Fox News):
"Matthew made the remarks during his preview to the Tuesday night presidential debate in which he also suggested the Republican presidential ticket would give a just-fertilized egg the 14th Amendment rights of life, liberty and property.
“Whatever that means,” Matthews continued, as reported first by the website NewsBusters. “An egg that had just been fertilized, right after sex, if you will.”
“And to have that notion that that would be a person under this personhood thing that Ryan’s pushing, and under the 14th Amendment rights, the platform that Romney’s running on. This is extremism. I say (to the) center right tonight -- it's almost like Shariah." (1)
Now, for those unaware, Chris Matthews is an uber liberal at MSNBC and arguably their most seasoned anchor/commentator/cable clown. He is not above making very bold and sometimes controversial statements and this one isn't any different really. Honestly, it's only making the news cycle because Right-leaning media sources have been all over it since the debate and for good reason. What he said wasn't just stupid, it was incredibly ignorant.
Why? Here is the official position of the Romney/Ryan campaign on abortion straight from Mitt Romney's mouth: "I'm in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother." (2)
To put it even simpler, a good summary of this position is: abortion should only be legal under certain circumstances.
Now, one wonders, is Mitt Romney's position on abortion really that extreme? I decided to check with the folks at Gallup on that very issue and in fact their results are quite different. According to a poll taken in May of this year, 52% of those polled agreed that abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances, while only 25% think abortion should be legal under ANY circumstances and just 20% think abortion should be illegal under any circumstances. (2)
In other words, the official position on abortion of Mitt Romney is backed by a little over half of Americans according to Gallup's data (though of course, it is just a poll), even accounting for margin of error, Romney's position seems hardly "extreme".
Now, to Matthew's use of the phrase, "it's almost like Shariah". Shariah of course refers to the strict religious/legal standard enforced in many parts of the Muslim world, much in the same manner as "common law" is across the US. So, one assumes that this reference is meant to make us all think that it's purely Romney's faith that not only developed his position on abortion, but that it drives this supposed wish of his to impress his beliefs on all us.
Romney's religious views aside, this "theory" that he wishes to impress his religious views on the entire nation is just plain wrong. His campaign's official position on abortion is this (via his website):
"With Roe overturned, states will be empowered through the democratic process to determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate." (3)
In other words, while Romney is no fan of the Roe v. Wade decision (he isn't the only one), he makes it clear he wishes to make abortion a state issue, not create a overruling federal mandate on the subject. He is making a legal argument, not just a moral on.
So lets look back to Matthew's claim. His claim of Romney's position being "extreme" is bogus and his comparison of this position to Shariah is not just inaccurate, is just plain desperate. One wonders how badly MSNBC wants extra ratings that they let Matthews speak such crap on live TV..
Remember that humorous irony I mentioned before? If you have ever watched Chris Matthew's show on MSNBC, you know that one of his favorite parts of the program is something he calls the "Sideshow", in which he mocks either a politician or commentator for saying something he thinks is ridiculous and out of the norm. How ironic then, that Matthew's own remarks before the debate would be center stage in a real "sideshow".
Next time Chris, maybe you should just stick to the MSNBC script, aye?
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