In a sense it's the extremists in any cause who define the issues, and so it is with the anti-abortion crowds seeking to shut down medical clinics in Wichita by physically blocking entrances.
These people represent the outermost fringes of the anti-abortion movement, but their activities have forced President Bush to confront the hypocrisy and cynicism of his own position.
"I have always subscribed to the big tent theory," the president said on Sunday in condemning the law-breaking tactics of the demonstrators in Wichita. By that he meant that while he was still personally opposed to abortion, the Republican Party was big enough to accommodate the views of the growing number of women and young people in the party who do not want government to take away the right to terminate unwanted pregnancy.
So with this facile comment the president, who was once steadfastly pro-choice but became anti-abortion out of political expediency, is now in the process of changing again.
Can he get away with another flip-flop? Abortion, after all, is not an issue on which you can amiably disagree, as you would about the tax rate or the speed limit. It is not a political issue but a moral issue, and it appears George Bush is simply incapable of distinguishing between a political issue and a moral issue.
The "big tent theory" is, in fact, simply a convoluted way of saying that you are pro-choice. If you doubt that, we would only ask, how does the president propose to rewrite the Republican platform plank which for the past 12 years has taken a firm anti-abortion, anti-choice stand in a way that would satisfy the pro-choice people in the Republican Party?