Snopes' Credibility: Mixture
On Thursday, Chelsea Clinton decided to couch her support for abortion in religious language. When discussing Roe v. Wade, she insisted that overturning the decision would be "unconscionable," opining further that "as a deeply religious person, it’s also un-Christian to me." This was an impressive troll of pro-Life Republicans, who promptly gave Chelsea the attention she expected from this calculated comment.
Yesterday, Snopes.com decided to shoot its own credibility in the foot by describing the pro-Life outrage as a "Mixture" of truth and falsehood. Snopes admits that Chelsea cited Christianity in support of Roe, but opined further that her statement does not "literally say it would be un-Christian to protect babies from abortion." This is an odd semantic distinction without much meaningful difference.
Unfortunately, this Snopes problem is likely to get worse over the coming months. As elections approach, "fact checkers" reliably turn into "opinion checkers," as every rhetorical turn of phrase gains political import. Giving a statement a "true" rating, during an election season, becomes an endorsement of the world view lurking behind the rhetoric. Snopes, which usually does a decent job of playing whack-a-mole with conspiracy theories, has demonstrated that it is not immune to this phenomenon.
So why is Chelsea tying abortion to Christianity? The answer lies in her last name. Just as the Bush family represents a dying coalition on the political Right, the Clinton family represents a dying coalition on the political Left. Both political dynasties were once successful because they appealed to the center of America. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were candidates that undecided American voters could see themselves getting a beer with. And part of appealing to the American center, years ago, included lip-service to religion.
The Clinton establishment is not ready for the Democrat Party to throw the Christian religion entirely under the bus. But, for the new "blue wave" Democrats, Christianity is a relic of the West's patriarchal past. Grass-roots Democrats no longer want God in their political platform, and they find the formality of prayer before Democrat events to be a vestigial nuisance. The Clintons believe that the emboldened grass-roots of their own party threatens to alienate Americans in the center. They fear that writing Christianity out of the Democrat Party means turning moderate Americans into Republicans. As silly as the "abortion is Christian" angle may seem, it is necessary if the Democrat Party wants to simultaneously make abortion into a sacrament while still winning moderate voters.