- The Washington Times - Friday, April 9, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Rep. Bart Stupak’s announcement today that he will not seek re-election is no big surprise. The Michigan Democrat dug himself into a deep political hole and and couldn’t climb out of it. Mr. Stupak repeatedly vowed that he would never vote for government-funded abortion. When he sold out that principle, the whole country - including his vast rural district - knew he singlehandedly pushed Obamacare over the top for passage.

Mr. Stupak first claimed he wasn’t violating his pro-life pledge because of an executive order President Obama said he’d sign to maintain the Hyde Amendment, which forbids public funding when a pregnancy purportedly isn’t the result of rape or incest. This explanation was never very convincing. It was crystal clear that Mr. Obama’s order was merely a fig leaf that gave nothing to Mr. Stupak and the other feckless “anti-abortion” Democrat holdouts. The executive order included nothing beyond what was already in the Senate version of the health bill, and that bill contained provisions that Mr. Stupak repeatedly had rejected because it provided government funding for abortion.

In recent weeks, Mr. Stupak’s story was in constant flux as he dodged around trying to concoct a justification that somebody might actually believe. Most recently, he implausibly claimed his vote didn’t matter because the bill would have passed anyway. He told the Catholic News Agency that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “always carries a number of votes in her pocket,” and that she could have pulled out another one of these to pass the government takeover of the health care system without him. Mr. Stupak went on to explain that by voting “yes,” he gave cover to colleagues who were then freed to vote “nay.” “I had a number of members who thanked us after because they could vote ‘no,’” Mr. Stupak said.

Saying that he sold out his moral position because the bill would pass anyway is a very contorted explanation. If indeed this had been the case, why then did he not vote according to his conscience? The additional notion that Mr. Stupak voted against his conscience to make life easier for other congressional Democrats is simply bizarre, as well as dubious from a moral point of view.

In the final analysis, Mr. Stupak was neither honest when he promised to fight taxpayer-funded abortion nor when he tried to justify his vote for Obamacare. Because Mr. Stupak couldn’t be trusted on what he claimed to be one of his most important personal beliefs, his constituents developed serious doubts about whether they could trust him on anything. As a result, the nine-term congressman faced stiff challenges in both the primary and general elections this year. His general election challenger, Dr. Dan Benishek, raised $170,000 in a single day after the health care vote.

Mr. Stupak might have opened a safe Democratic congressional seat to a Republican takeover. Either way, the Michigan 1st congressional district has been relieved of an opportunistic politician who sold out both his own conscience and the unborn.

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