Culture Friday: T stands for toxic

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Friday, October 18th, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. 

Democratic candidates for president debated this week and I counted in the transcript 30,000 words. Most of the words were about President Trump and impeachment. President Trump and his policies. President Trump and even Hunter Biden. 

Also, we learned who the new frontrunner is—judging by which candidate was on the receiving end of the attacks of others on the stage. And that would be Elizabeth Warren now.

But in that lengthy debate were just 10 minutes devoted to abortion and that did not get a lot of attention. It was certainly worth noting, though, and today we will give it some attention.

REICHARD: It’s Culture Friday and John Stonestreet is here. He’s president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. John, good morning.


EICHER: I listened a couple of times to all the Democrats’ comments on abortion, John, and I picked three that I thought were most significant. They all basically agree with one another, but I think there were a few that stood out.

Let’s begin with Senator Kamala Harris of California.

REICHARD: And before we get to that clip of Senator Harris: she’s going to talk about “preclearance” by the federal government of certain state laws. There is a history for this, for  example, certain southern states had to get preclearance of laws they wanted to pass concerned with voting. The Supreme Court eventually struck that down. But what Senator Harris is suggesting is a dramatic departure from abortion jurisprudence. Here she is:

HARRIS: For any state that passes a law that violates the Constitution, and in particular Roe v. Wade, our Department of Justice will review that law to determine if it is compliant with Roe v. Wade and the Constitution, and if it is not, that law will not go into effect. That’s called pre-clearance.

EICHER: I’m not going to play sound from Elizabeth Warren, but it was interesting to me that she didn’t take this sort of approach. Obviously she’s very much in favor of abortion, but she said she wanted to firm up the abortion right democratically. Harris took the opposite view here. What do you think?

STONESTREET: She does take the opposite view and she takes a view that’s completely out of step with the American, larger American people and where they are on this particular issue. And that’s what we’ve seen more and more from the entire Democratic party with, you know, I think one exception on the stage the other night. I mean, look, this won’t stand. It’s actually not possible for Senator Harris—if she becomes president—to actually pull this off. It’s trying to put abortion in the same category of, well, she says it in her line. You know, that violates the Constitution and in particular Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade is not in the Constitution. Abortion is not in the Constitution. It was something that was legislated by the Supreme Court in Roe.

So, it was interesting that she said this. It’s an impossible thing for her to actually accomplish if she does become president.

EICHER: Let’s listen now to Joe Biden. He has a very long career in Washington, and I found this interesting because it was more traditional. He cited his experience and specifically his effort to stop President Reagan’s nominee Robert Bork and the result that Anthony Kennedy joined the court in his place.

BIDEN: I want to point out that the justices I’ve supported, when I defeated Robert Bork—and I say when I defeated Robert Bork, I made sure we guaranteed a woman’s right to choose for the better part of a generation. I would make sure that we move and insist that we pass, we codify Roe v. Wade.

REICHARD: In other words, because he defeated Bork and held out for Kennedy, the abortion right essentially held steady on the high court for three decades. That’s Biden talking about his ability to get results.

STONESTREET: Well, yeah, I mean, decades ago. Look, he was the vice president since then and I think it’s interesting—this is why, by the way, and I know we’re supposed to have a conversation about abortion and not politics but this is why Elizabeth Warren is a new front runner and Joe Biden isn’t—is he’s pointing back to accomplishments from the Reagan administration. 

And, you know what, the fact of the matter is that was a huge thing. Having Kennedy instead of Robert Bork did ensure that Roe v. Wade wasn’t in play. Right now Roe v. Wade is in play. And Roe v. Wade is in play because the court has dramatically shifted and, politically speaking, Biden has not at any level communicated to his base or to the Democratic base that he’s still able to pull off the sort of things that he’s claiming victory for, you know, before many people were even alive. 

And, look, most of the voters now that are going to move this—and this is, I think, what we see this energy coming—where the energy’s coming into the Democratic party from these younger folks. They’re coming from younger people. They don’t remember Bork. They don’t even remember Reagan for heaven’s sake.

EICHER: All right, now last, a little daylight between abortion on demand, all the time, any reason, no reason: Tulsi Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii. She brought back a phrase we haven’t heard in awhile.

GABBARD: I agree with Hillary Clinton on one thing, disagree with her on many others, but when she said abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, I think she’s correct. I do, however, think that there should be some restrictions in place. I support codifying Roe v. Wade while making sure that, during the third trimester, abortion is not an option unless the life or severe health consequences of a woman are at risk.

Again, significant, because this is not nearly enough to get the endorsement of Planned Parenthood or the National Abortion Rights Action League. And to the contrary, it may be enough to earn their opposition. That’s a departure from orthodoxy by Congresswoman Gabbard.

STONESTREET: It’s stunning to me that this is kind of a new conservative position from the Democratic party on abortion. Safe, legal, and rare was the left part of the party not that long ago. And then there were pro-life Democrats. And now this is not only the kind of conservative position within the Democratic party, it’s the basically unwinnable position of the Democratic party. Listen, Tulsi Gabbard is not going to be the nominee. If she were, she’d have to move on this in order to secure those sorts of endorsements. But, again, this was the mainstream position just yesterday, culturally speaking. 

And that just tells you two things. Number one is that those on the left side of the political spectrum have dramatically moved on the abortion issue. They have gotten more radical on this. What that has done, number two, is basically encouraged an industry in these districts where they’re in charge to go unregulated. And, third, it’s just out of step. It’s out of step with the entire world. The positions that the Democratic candidates are presenting—other than Tulsi Gabbard—are basically to the progressive left of most nations in the world. It’s not, specifically, where America is. America has moved more conservative on this issue and this tells you just how out of step the Democrats are on this one.

EICHER: John, we did not get a chance to talk about this last week, but a week ago—more than a week ago, now—the Democrats had a town hall on “equality.” And I know you had some thoughts on that. So let’s talk about that before we let you go. What do you think was most significant in that town hall?

STONESTREET: First of all, I think what was said and what happened at that town hall was more significant than what happened in the debate. And here’s why: first of all, during that kind of same time frame—after we heard the language come out of each and every one of the mouths of the candidates in this town hall as they interact on issues of LGBTQ issues and equality and so on—was completely diametrically opposed to the speech given by the U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr at Notre Dame this past week, which was a remarkable understanding of the significance, purpose, and reason we have the First Amendment and specifically when it comes to religious freedom. Basically you had a complete line-up of Democratic candidates replacing the First Amendment—from free speech association and religion, to basically sexual freedom. And that’s what you heard. Religious freedom was put in scare quotes and so on.

The second thing, though, that I want to point out, Nick, was something that I found to be absolutely remarkable. It was a particular scene in which an African-American woman had a microphone, was scheduled to ask a question, and she stood there beside her child. And a man ran out of the audience dressed as a woman, grabbed the mic, stole it from her, stole her time, and then ran to the front of the room and started to rant and rave. Yelling. I mean, listen, we’ve all been at Q&As where this sort of thing happens, where someone literally becomes unhinged. And what happens is, you know, security takes over. And what the moderator is trained to do is to get the mic out of their hand as soon as possible. Well, the CNN anchor hosting the event succeeded. Did what he was trained to do. Got the mic out of this person’s hand. But you could see in his face the, ‘Oh, I just silenced a transgender person.’ And he gives the mic back to the ranting, raving person who—if it were any other situation—would have been arrested, would have been at least escorted out of the room. Now, I bring this up not because of even what happened and what was said. I bring this up because it’s another example right now of how the rules simply don’t apply to those who identify as transgender, especially men who want to identify as women. 

We hear all this stuff today about toxic masculinity. About how men are basically stealing from women, taking kind of women’s positions, keeping women silenced and oppressed, and I thought to myself when I saw that, ‘That is the most clear example of toxic masculinity that I have seen in a long time.’ A man stealing time and a voice from a woman. And it’s just like a man stealing a woman’s college scholarship and a man stealing a woman’s small business loan because she’s a woman and he wants to identify—he’s a man identifying as women.

REICHARD: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. It’s Culture Friday. John, thanks!


(AP Photo/John Minchillo) Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, gestures toward Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio.  

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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One comment on “Culture Friday: T stands for toxic

  1. Pallab Gupta says:

    Thank you do much for distilling political news to something that I can understand.
    BTW, Tulsi (Gabbard) is pronounced t-oo-l-si with the -oo- as in book – a short vowel and the T as a soft dental T. An example is in I confirmed this from my last trip to Hawaii as that name is from India and is the name of the medicinal plant called Holy Basil in English.
    Keep up the wonderful news coverage!

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