Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, told a leading social conservative organization that "some of the worst abuses of the UN system have taken place on issues like right-to-life, protection of the family, and protection of religious freedom."
Bolton was guest of honor at a Wednesday night dinner in New York City held by the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Arizona-based legal advocacy group behind the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court victory over ObamaCare's contraception mandate, plus numerous rulings against Planned Parenthood and the ACLU on abortion, same-sex marriage and religious liberty issues.
Speaking with little, if any, prepared text, Bolton dove straight into the issue of abortion, which he said "has emerged in so many different fields at the UN, where buzz phrases, catchwords are developed."
One such phrase, Bolton said, is "reproductive rights" or "reproductive health." He asked, "in the abstract, how bad does that sound?" But then added, "we know that that's a codeword for abortion. That's what that's about. So when it comes up it may sound like you're quibbling over semantics, but obviously you're not. And where the danger, I think, multiplies in the UN system, in this huge, sprawling organization that does so much" is in a strange phenomenon Bolton said he had seen "over and over again."
As the former UN representative under President George W. Bush described it, "you're debating a resolution on the circumstances of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, and suddenly there'll be language about 'reproductive rights,' or 'women in the Israeli-occupied territories.' And you say, 'wait a minute. This is hard enough as it is. Where did we get into 'reproductive rights'?"
Another example Bolton provided what when "it comes up in a conference on the environment, where suddenly the consequences of global warming include impairing the reproductive rights of women." Bolton even said, eliciting laughter from the audience, "I've seen it come up in arms control negotiations; I mean it's unbelievable."
The end result, according to Bolton, is that "these verbal formulations and commitments and obligations and declarations and outcome documents and international agreements build up over time like a coral reef."
There may not be "one event that necessarily marks a revolution," Bolton said, "but after decades of conference-going and document-adopting, where one cites the one before that, and so on and so forth, it makes it look like an impressive body of international law that becomes very difficult to penetrate."
The Washington Examiner this week quoted a "national Republican with knowledge of Bolton's thinking" who doubted Bolton would ultimately seek the White House. The source confided that Bolton, who in recent months has been giving frequent speeches to a wide variety of groups, "wants to have a national security presence and talk about areas where he can be relevant," in order to assure that "those issues get addressed."
But what Bolton did before an ADF audience of committed social conservatives was discuss abortion in a way that was out of the ordinary for a Republican politician with his eye on attaining high office. He tied the issue to the concerns of other sections of the GOP base, the Tea Party in particular, regarding diminishing American sovereignty and internationalism.
If the ambassador does run, performances like Wednesday night's may inoculate him against the predictable charges that he is a one-dimensional candidate focused only on foreign policy.
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