The Dartmouth Observer

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Thursday, December 15, 2005
 
The Lamentations of a Dartmouth Alum

Over at Balkanization, Mark Graber, who is apparently a Dartmouth alum, wrote a lament that can be summed up in this accurately cynical statement: "I rather doubt that Dartmouth frat boys will cry if ROE is overruled or change their behavior much. Nor, do I suspect, will the Wall Street Journal find that decision an occasion for mourning or celebration. If you can afford Dartmouth or read the Wall Street Journal regularly, ROE does not matter." I quote the post in full below but you should go look around their site as they, as well as I, have been thinking about "philosophical conservatism." I'm looking at Russell Kirk, but they've been reading John Kekes, whose book On Conservatism I absolutely loved.

Conservative Elite and Abortion
I overlapped with many of the nation's leading conservative elites when I attended Dartmouth College during the middle to late 1970s. Granted that people change over time, but the notion that this crowd would be leading the charge for "traditional family and sexual values" seems rather absurd. Most belonged to fraternities that seemed rather dedicated to sex outside of marriage. Then again, looking at the conservative record in Congress, maybe "boys will be boys" is what is meant by traditional family and sexual values.

I was reminded of my Dartmouth experiences the other day when interviewed by a reporter from the Wall Street Journal on the probable consequences of a Supreme Court decision overruling Roe. Part of the reason was Paul Gigot was my editor when I was on the school paper (he was terrific, exceptionally open-minded). The other was that the reporter seemed rather pro-choice. I did my usual schick, explaining why I think both pro-life and pro-choice forces have incentives to exaggerate the likely political and social impact of a decision overruling ROE (see too many blogs below). She, on the other hand, with a concern for the less fortunate not normally associated with the WSJ, kept pushing me to highlight more serious impacts on poor and minority women. Do I think they will be worse off if ROE is overruled. I do. But many who do not live near an abortion provider are already badly off.

My more general conclusion is that the family values revolution is being led, partly by sincere religious believers, but also by former fraternity drunks who are mostly interested in gaining votes for lower taxes and imperial adventures in the Middle East. I rather doubt that Dartmouth frat boys will cry if ROE is overruled or change their behavior much. Nor, do I suspect, will the Wall Street Journal find that decision an occasion for mourning or celebration. If you can afford Dartmouth or read the Wall Street Journal regularly, ROE does not matter.