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Tilting at Windmills

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January 24, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THE MARCH FOR LIFE....Via Ross Douthat, Michael Sean Winters of America laments one of the more peculiar "traditions" in the anti-abortion movement:

The annual March for Life has come and gone. One of its more bizarre qualities is the way GOP presidents participate: by recorded message or telephone hook-up, but never in person. This began during Ronald Reagan's presidency when some advisors did not want a photo beamed around the world of Reagan addressing the crowd, but those same advisors knew they had to at least acknowledge the role that pro-life forces played in Reagan's 1980 victory.

....At some point, pro-life groups need to challenge those whose disembodied voices fill their ears every January. This bizarre "telephone hook-up" is, in both the literal and figurative senses of the phrase, lip service to the cause. The loyal pro-life members of the GOP coalition deserve more, to say nothing of the unborn.

As Winters notes, neither George Bush nor any of the leading Republican presidential candidates showed up at this year's march. As usual, they either called or wrote letters, apparently because they're afraid to be photographed alongside the pro-life crowds.

This prompts two questions. First, can anyone think of something similar on the Democratic side, where candidates are conspicuously afraid to be seen participating in a rally put on by some major liberal interest group? For example, are Democratic candidates shy about attending pro-choice rallies?

Second, why do the pro-life forces put up with this? I can understand why they allowed Reagan to get away with it: the whole pro-life movement was still fairly new back then, Reagan was one of their first supporters, and they didn't want to do anything to hurt him politically. But why have they allowed so many presidents and presidential nominees since then to thumb their noses at them this way? They're a serious and well-established part of the GOP coalition, after all. Why allow politicians to get away with being evidently embarrassed to be photographed in their presence? Inquiring minds want to know.

Kevin Drum 1:47 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (81)

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Where are the pro-lifers to help "rescue" the Iraqi and Afghani children who are getting blown to smithereens? Apparently this "pro-life" orientation stops at birth and at the water's edge....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 24, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't seen too many Dems attend any of the anti-war marches on The Mall in the last 5 years.

Posted by: Dylan J on January 24, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Yes I'm going to spam this link. So there.

Former President of Chicago NOW, Lorna Brett Howard, tells the story of why she switched from supporting Hillary Clinton to supporting Barack Obama.


Posted by: Lucy on January 24, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

why have they allowed so many presidents and presidential nominees since then to thumb their noses at them this way?

Why has the Religious Right in general allowed themselves to be thoroughly exploited -- for volunteers, money, and votes -- and then be fed crumbs -- occasional speeches, and judges who are corporatist first and moralist a distant second -- later?

I think it stems from the fundamental insecurity that supports the Fascist mentality. It's enough to be part of the winning movement, whether or not any of your goals are realized.

Posted by: bleh on January 24, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Do Democrats show up at Gay Rights Marches?

Posted by: reino on January 24, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Do democratic politicians participate in anti-death-penalty activities?

Posted by: johnson on January 24, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, this looks like an opportunity missed by Huckabee.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on January 24, 2008 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

can anyone think of something similar on the Democratic side[?]

You ask that question a lot. Some might say that makes you a fence-sitter.

Posted by: Grumpy on January 24, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

I have to admit to a bit of shadenfreude, as every year the right to lifers have to get their troops out to march in the coldest darkest month of the year. The worse the weather is, the better I feel about it.

Posted by: fafner1 on January 24, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

I can think of lots of similar somethings on the Dem side, but I'll throw out just one that's far worse: the utterly shameless, truly embarrassing behavior of our Democratic politicians in the face of a little mau-mauing of MoveOn. Here was a major, important interest group that maybe slipped up slightly in a little rhetoric, and every one of the spineless hacks in Congress voted to condemn them. The Republicans would never do that to one of their own.

Posted by: pdp on January 24, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary has marched in NYC gay pride parades (as have Rudy and Mike Bloomberg).

Posted by: jhollyday on January 24, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Second, why do the pro-life forces put up with this?

The ability to believe that a single cell, at the point of fertilization, is morally equivalent to a complete human being so that killing that single cell is an act of murder ... and then on top of that to believe that some complete human beings, actual children, are not worthy of care and protection ... and then on top of that to manage to be enthusiastically pro-death penalty and pro-torture ... requires a special sort of mind. There's no point in trying to make sense of any of it.

Posted by: bobb on January 24, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Democratic candidates used to list gay/lesbian endorsements in their literature or on TV without using the words gay or lesbian. they would list initials or an incomplete org name so that folks in the "know" would know, but others wouldn't be offended.

Posted by: PD on January 24, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

“The Republicans would never do that to one of their own” posted pdp.

Well, one certain highly-placed Republican did much worse to John McCain a few years ago.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on January 24, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

First, can anyone think of something similar on the Democratic side, where candidates are conspicuously afraid to be seen participating in a rally put on by some major liberal interest group?

To the many examples above, I'd add pro-immigrant rights rallies to the list of events eschewed by (non-Hispanic) Dems.

Posted by: Disputo on January 24, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Well, just spitballing, of course, but perhaps they have greater trust in the backroom then Democrats do...an underlying presumption that, although the candidate in question may be unwilling to be seen with them, he is in his heart a true supporter and can be relied upon to deliver when the dealmaking gets done. "This moderate face I show the world; my radical heart beats as one with your own." Whereas a Dem who wouldn't show his face publically is one who could not be relied upon privately, either....

Not saying they'd be right, if that were what they thought. Just offering it as a possible read of the motives...

Posted by: Diablevert on January 24, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Do Democrats show up at Gay Rights Marches?

here's a picture of Gravel at the 2007 SF Gay Pride Parade.

Posted by: cleek on January 24, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

None of the leading Democratic presidential candidates march with Ms. Sheehan or even express an anti-Iraq-war sentiment. Democrats may complain about the prosecution of W. Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq, but no one in the Democratic leadership shows up to lend an establishment face to the anti-occupation effort.

Posted by: Brojo on January 24, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin asks: "First, can anyone think of something similar on the Democratic side, where candidates are conspicuously afraid to be seen participating in a rally put on by some major liberal interest group?"

I'm not so sure that it's about politicians being "conspicuously afraid" of being associated with an interest group.

I think it has a lot to do with politicians being confident that a particular interest group has no where else to turn, so they have no choice but to settle for "lip service" from the politicians who ostensibly support their cause but never seem to actually do much to advance it.

And I can certainly think of examples of that attitude on the Democratic / liberal side.

The Republican politicians certainly don't worry that the anti-abortion voters are suddenly going start voting in large numbers for Democrats, so Republican politicians don't feel they need to do more than lip-service to the anti-abortion cause.

And Democratic politicians don't worry that, for example, "environmentalists" are going to start voting en masse for Republican candidates, so they feel that they needn't give much more than lip service to environmental issues.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 24, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I don't understand this story. I heard this yesterday too on the radio, but even there, (and I think it was Thom Hartmann) it was mentioned that while Bush didn't march with the protesters, he actually invited them into the White House to have breakfast with him.

http://www.catholic.org/prwire/headline.php?ID=4478

Bush is a turd but he did more than just call his presence in this year.

Posted by: jerry on January 24, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Kevin asks: "First, can anyone think of something similar on the Democratic side, where candidates are conspicuously afraid to be seen participating in a rally put on by some major liberal interest group?"

How about the majority of our Democratic leaders that failed to stop by and see Cindy Sheehan?

Posted by: jerry on January 24, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

yup--some Gay pride marches only get letters and mayoral proclamations and no elected officials actually present (but not the ones in big cities--they get officials to actually appear).

Posted by: amberglow on January 24, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Evidently the pro-life movement is made up of Democratic Congress-people, this is the only explanation for their craven genuflection in response to Republican Part mistreatment.

Posted by: bryan on January 24, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I can't imagine why politicians who would show up at events that pay Ann Coulter to speak would be afraid of showing up at the pro life marches. All I can think is they are lazy. But I'm sure there are countless liberal causes and constituencies that the Dems run away from because they consider them toxic. If the Move On or any other antiwar group were able to get Nancy or Harry to address a rally, the rally would probably get a good scolding - not words of encouragement.

Posted by: jussumbody on January 24, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK


Please don't use the term "pro-life."

In fact, the anti-abortion crowd, as it should be called, is anything BUT pro-life.

y

Posted by: y on January 24, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy - Thanks for the link at 1:57 PM. Excellent comment and exactly one of the important (out of many) reasons I'm supporting Obama.

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think using Cindy Sheehan is not a fair/accurate comparison. What KD is talking about is one of if not the single most powerful core constituency of the modern GOP. Now, what would people say are the core major vote providing Dem constituencies/interest groups that have been long term members (as in around for a couple of decades, thereby removing the possible taint of the interest group still being seen as close to fringe being attached to the candidate in question as it once was with the anti-abortionists) of the Dem party where this would be true of?

As to why pro-lifers put up with it, I suspect it may have as much to do with the myth about the liberal media conspiracy against conservatives and the notion that the candidates must be protected from them as anything else already mentioned by others in this thread.

Posted by: Scotian on January 24, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

"Lenni Brenner (no Alinskyite he) has put it in another way, "The central rule of politics: if I don't give the suckers what they want, what can they do to hurt me?""

Posted by: Brojo on January 24, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

lucy/nepata:

However good/bad the link may be, what does it have to do with the topic of this post? I understand you are ardent Obama supporters but does that mean that is all you can talk about right now even in threads that have nothing to do with Obama/Clinton as this one certainly was not? I'm sorry, but I do find that irritating/obnoxious especially at blogs where there are threads talking about the Obama/Clinton race for the Dem nomination when other topics are being discussed. Why not put that link in the next Obama/Clinton thread instead of this one, hmmm?

It is this degree/type of partisanship I tend to find annoying no matter who it is in support of and why for the most part I was in lurk mode here and remain so on the other American political blogs I read through. It is topic trolling and I no more appreciate it when done for this purpose as I do when a member of the GOP Trolletariat does so.

Posted by: Scotian on January 24, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

The ability to believe that a single cell, at the point of fertilization, is morally equivalent to a complete human being so that killing that single cell is an act of murder...

You don't have to believe that a single cell is morally equivalent to a born human to nonetheless believe that it is possessed of a sufficient degree of personhood to deserve not to be killed, or to disagree with the prevailing abortion rights position that legal protections for the fetus are never justified in any case.

Evidently the pro-life movement is made up of Democratic Congress-people, this is the only explanation for their craven genuflection in response to Republican Part mistreatment.

Although there may be "mistreatment" one wonders what would constitute "good" treatment from the GOP. About the only thing we can hope for is judges hostile to Roe; without its overturning nothing can be done. And on this score, the GOP is infinitely preferable to the Democrats (as much as many of us would like to vote for the Democrats because of their stance on other issues). At the end of the day, Alito and Roberts have been pretty good picks.

Posted by: Every Sperm is Sacred on January 24, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats sought to reduce abortions, they could at least be winning the midwest. Why do they not do this? Does this contradict their ideology to a point that infuriates them? Does it anger Planned Parenthood too much? Or do they think it is morally wrong to support a plan to reduce abortions? Why are they turning their back on good politics?

This is a sincere question.

Posted by: old g on January 24, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

And by reduce abortions I mean through spreading contraception and shit like that.

And i know some Dems are doing it, but this shit should be in their official platform, and they need to talk about it a lot.

Posted by: old g on January 24, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats sought to reduce abortions, they could at least be winning the midwest. Why do they not do this?

here's the relevant bit from the official 2004 Dem Platform:

---
We will defend the dignity of all Americans against those who would undermine it. Because we
believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman's right to choose,
consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican
efforts to undermine that right. At the same time, we strongly support family planning and adoption
incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.
---

"family planning" means contraception.

Posted by: cleek on January 24, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

what would people say are the core major vote providing Dem constituencies/interest groups that have been long term members

Democrats are still running away from their anti-Vietnam war constituency, who are too locked in to the Democratic side of the two party system to find an alternative.

President Clinton and Democratic senators like John Edwards counted on and courted the poor as a major Democratic constituency. Then they tried to eliminate welfare. That is probably much worse than Republicans, who do not attempt to legalize abortion after phoning in a call to their anti-reproduction rights constituency.

Posted by: Brojo on January 24, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

What I don't get is why anyone thinks the distinction between the canned phone call and a personal appearance matters to anyone except the people who might otherwise pony up $2000/plate. What "swing voter" is going to base their vote on this distinction?

Posted by: Eric Scharf on January 24, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing that you won't see a lot of Democratic candidates jostling for a chance to be seen leading or addressing an immigrants-rights rally, in spite of their otherwise reasonably good support of immigrants.

But maybe this doesn't qualify, because many of the immigrants they're supporting, not being citizens who can vote, aren't actually part of their "constituency".

Hmm.

Posted by: Jack on January 24, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

"For example, are Democratic candidates shy about attending pro-choice rallies?"

Yes: What major poltical figures showed up for the Washington Rally for Women (or what ever they had to call it because a march for choice cant get a massive crowd)

Posted by: Fitz on January 24, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Ooooh, Ooooh, I know.

There is self-selection going on. These are the people who crave an authority figure they can blindly follow who will tell them exactly and simply what to do.

That is what attracts them to their religion, and that is what keeps them from questioning what their leaders say.

Do not question God's will.
Do not question the Bishop.
Do not question Pastor Bob.

Posted by: Tripp on January 24, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Remember the Million Man March? Which major Democratic politicians showed up for that?

Posted by: Jack on January 24, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

First, can anyone think of something similar on the Democratic side, where candidates are conspicuously afraid to be seen participating in a rally put on by some major liberal interest group? For example, are Democratic candidates shy about attending pro-choice rallies?

During the current Presidential campaign, John Edwards has walked picket lines. Can't remember seeing Hillary or Obama out there.

I have no idea whether Dem Senators and Representatives in general are reluctant to show their faces when workers are on strike. But it increasingly seems that way.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on January 24, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

The reason politicians do not show up for their activists' events:

"Anyway, you know good and well it would be beyond the will of God,
and the grace of the King" (grace of the King)

Posted by: Merman on January 24, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

You don't have to believe that a single cell is morally equivalent to a born human to nonetheless believe that it is possessed of a sufficient degree of personhood to deserve not to be killed

What degree of personhood, no matter how slight, could a single cell possibly possess?

I've had pro-lifers tell me they thought that a fertilized egg (human only, of course) was a "person" by virtue of the soul that God attached to it at the point of conception. So on that view the single cell is capable of feelings, thoughts, desires, etc., just as much as you or I.

But if we don't bring ensoulment into the story, what you have is a single cell. There's nothing like a person about it. There's no sense of "self" there. No mental activity of any kind, because there's no brain, or any part of a brain.

Posted by: bobb on January 24, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

why do the pro-life forces put up with this?

In general, tools don't know they are tools.

Posted by: Naveen on January 24, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a theory: anti-abortion activists recognize that a number of people at anti-abortion events really are weirdos. These people realize that their politicians appearing with the freaks will hurt the cause. So, the anti-abortion activists are OK with the pols not coming.

Also, the Right Wing is just uncomfortable with people who protest.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on January 24, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

bobb,

I'm not sure such people concede that one must have feelings or thoughts to have a soul. I mean they claim Republicans have souls. Some even thought Terry Schiavo's soul was still with her body.

No, I think they would claim "maybe the soul is there, only God knows for sure."

I don't agree with that assessment but I have heard it.

Posted by: Tripp on January 24, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Anti-war rally, pro- gay rights rally.

Posted by: nathan on January 24, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK


Abolition of contraception is next.

y

Posted by: y on January 24, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

I have been amazed at this "phony" show of support by Republican Presidents...those same Republicans (especially the current "leader") who we have been constantly told for years have the courage of real convictions, who live by deep, abiding principles and who deeply respect life as well as being fiercely willing to stand by their deep beliefs.....

Just one more example of phony Republicanism....utter bullshit pretending to be "leadership"

Posted by: marty on January 24, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian,

Your criticism is well-taken. Lucy called her comment a 'spam' hence she understands she was 'off-thread.' 'Off-thread' or 'OT' is used somewhat frequently around here when a commenter wants to make a contribution not directly relevant to the topic at hand. Sorry that it causes you irritation. I also apologize for not responding to one of your comments directed to me on another thread late the other night. Although you say you are a neutral onlooker I'm curious that most of your criticism is directed towards Obama supporters. I personally get terribly emotional about candidates, a trait I should by now have learned doesn't do me or anyone else any good, but it seems unavoidable. Let's talk in a couple years. My enthusiasm for the Dem president (always optimistic!) will have undoubtably diminished quite a bit.

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

PS to Scotian: I also think Lucy's comment and link were not totally 'offthread,' having to do with the general topic, although not perhaps in a specific sense.

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that one fertilized cell has a soul is so interesting. When it splits into twins God has to be alert and add another soul. When one embryo absorbs another embryo, and produces a chimera or a body with a parasitical, brainless twin, one soul must be removed. I suppose the natural thing to do would be remove the soul associated with the lost brain. (Isn't it an amazing coincidence that you never find moral choices being made by a human without a functioning brain? And how a person can be changed in personality and ethics by a brain injury? You'd almost think the soul wasn't necessary to make a human.)Considering that maybe 30% to 40% of fertilized egg are lost in natural abortions, that's a lot of heavenly bookkeeping.

Posted by: cowalker on January 24, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP appoints judges that will eventually overturn Roe v. Wade ... and erase the bounds between church and state.

That's far more useful than a photo-op... and that's why the pro-lifers "put up" with that behavior.

Posted by: jackifus on January 24, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

cowalker,

Yeah, I wonder where scientists are going to find a stash of souls for their genome work?

Scientists Make First Man-Made Genome; Synthetic Life Comes Next

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

When one embryo absorbs another embryo, and produces a chimera or a body with a parasitical, brainless twin, one soul must be removed.

I don't think souls are "removed" in such cases I think they "go to heaven". But I'm not entirely up on my pro-life biological theory.

Posted by: bobb on January 24, 2008 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

"why have they allowed so many presidents and presidential nominees since then to thumb their noses at them this way?"

It's all about the judges. They've stacked the Supreme Court in ways that will have an impact for decades. For that, they can take a small dis via phone link up.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 24, 2008 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

"If the Democrats sought to reduce abortions, they could at least be winning the midwest. "

They do. It's called "family planning." It's called "birth control." It's called "sex education."

Why don't the "relgious" right and the Republicrat party seek to reduce unplanned/unwise pregnancies as a step to reducing abortion? Instead they vilify Planned Parenthood, whose Number ONE mission is reducing unplanned pregnancies and thus probably PREVENTS more abortions than all of the "religious" right "pro"-life groups put together.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 24, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

why do the pro-life forces put up with this?

Because they hate us with a passion that--even after 7 years of Bush--we can't understand.

Posted by: MNPundit on January 24, 2008 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

nepata:

I have said repeatedly why I am focusing on Obama, and I am not going to repeat it here again. You want to see that as unfair or a sign of partisanship go right ahead, although it is hard to be partisan for someone you cannot vote for in my books. Now, do I favour HRC over Obama you wonder? Yes, but not by so much a margin that I would set out to undercut Obama, it is solely on the grounds that I know she understands how the Executive branch works (rather is supposed to work, Bushco radically redefined it) and I think she also has the better track record of working hard for what she goes after, more so than Obama. Again I will remind you I have stated every time that any Dem candidate running is far superior to any GOP one running. My concerns/fears though are not based on my preference, they are based on what I see as the vulnerabilities in the media world that exists in America for Dems and its effect on the electorate, and I see Obama as far more of a risk than Clinton in that regard, so I explore that. I also see no reason to do so with Clinton's negatives/weaknesses precisely because they are already so well known, there isn't much more to be said there except whether one thinks they are crippling or not to her chances of becoming a President.

Look nepata, I kept waiting to see whether Obama could deliver in action his message, and so far I cannot say I see the proof that he and his campaign can. I see him playing equally strong hardball with the Clintons while claiming only the Clintons are being divisive, which do I believe Obama or my lying eyes? I see him being willing to suck up to GOPers right in the middle of the primaries being voted on, and worse I see him dissing the Clintons directly with the last 10-15 years remark which given he was the last successfully twice elected Dem candidate in over 60 years now strikes me as more than a little questionable when you are trying to win the DEMOCRATIC nomination, nor do I see it as a message of unity for the Dems given the strong popularity and support of Clinton there is within the Democratic party.

Basically I see Obama as far more flawed a vessel than his supporters tend to, including you. I see him as being far more of a risk than is acknowledged, as there is this clear article of faith among Obama supporters that he is the Dem that not only can win but win big while HRC if she can win at all can only by the smallest of margins, both are assumptions and not facts and have the inherent weaknesses of any assumption, and this is all based on the power of his speeches. However, his speeches have not been getting the kinds of dissection they will in the general, and to date he has not put a lot of substance on the bones of his rhetoric and spends more time talking about how things must change instead of the nuts and bolts of how he will make sure that change happens despite the inevitable resistance from the GOP infrastructure and the powerful interests whose service they clearly are in. I like the dream, but I live in reality, and he has yet to show me and a lot of Dems by the sound of it the substance that will make the dream a reality. Indeed, I am often reminded of something Jon Stewart said about Bush43 a while back about how he will use his "mighty words" to make things happen (I think it was in reference to Iraq but it became a bit of a running gag for a while as I recall), well that is at heart what it sounds like Obama and his camp is saying how Obama will change everything, and when that is factored into the way the media distorts the message, especially any Dem candidate’s message that strikes me as a major vulnerability neither Clinton nor Edwards has in terms of a general election campaign.

The problem with running a morals type campaign (and he is running one) is that you have to not only be above reproach in the areas you are offering moral superiority in you have to be able to be seen as such, and that is where I think he will come up short once under the same MSM attack as all other Dem candidates running for President have been the last few decades. With his unity message he undercuts his ability to hard challenge the GOP message and principles, he undercuts his ability to respond aggresively to any attacks without risking that post-partisanship message, just to illustrate how he either boxes himself in or gets seen/portrayed as a hypocrite. He also clearly is running a morals camapign against the Clintons in particular while being as brassknuckled in his politicking as the Clintons, which for me is a major hypocrisy in action and one which even if it is not focused on now by the media can easily be brought back in during the general to show how Obama talks out of both sides of his mouth and doesn't practice what he preaches which is always a turnoff to voters, especially those that dared to believe he might truly be something different that way.

BTW, I think it is a bit of a stretch to say the link was anywhere near this topic without having to stretch the meaning of this post a fair amount, at least that is my take on it.

Posted by: Scotian on January 24, 2008 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

The City of Los Angeles has a misleadingly named initiative on the ballot that will create new taxes on internet use and retain a cell phone tax that the courts have declared to be illegal. Guess how many members of the City Council have been willing to attend a forum that is coming up this weekend on this proposition? (Hint: the answer is between zero and negative numbers.)That's one set of Democrats who are managing to skip something where they don't want to be photographed.

Posted by: Bob G on January 24, 2008 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Bob G, a group of people favoring retaining but reducing the phone tax is not a "major liberal interest group." Good golly.

More important: if everyone agrees that abortion is icky and that being pro-life is TEH AWESOME, why don't conservative leaders want to be associated with this? Maybe criminalizing a medical procedure ain't as popular as the forced birth lobby wants everyone to think.

Posted by: JoshA on January 24, 2008 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK


More icky stuff to ponder:

Do we have any statistics on how many abortions have been performed via laser-guided bomb, etc., during the Iraq War of Aggression ?

jan

Posted by: jan on January 24, 2008 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian,

"My concerns/fears though are not based on my preference, they are based on what I see as the vulnerabilities in the media world"

I will not select a candidate based on who the corporate media decides to back. They have plenty of ammunition to use against either Democrat because their most powerful weapon is not uncovering 'scandal' per se but simply using rhetoric, time allotments, opinion etc. to more subtly affect mainstream opinion.

" I see him playing equally strong hardball with the Clintons while claiming only the Clintons are being divisive."

I haven't heard Obama use misinformation once to attack Clinton. His is only a counteroffensive. Did you listen to the link that Lucy provided?It's the misinformation of the Clinton attack (i.e., lying) that distresses me. I'm sure you know that Sen. Kennedy and others have privately asked Bill to tone it down.

" I like the dream, but I live in reality, and he has yet to show me and a lot of Dems by the sound of it the substance that will make the dream a reality."

Have you listened to the Reno Gazette interview? He talks quite clearly in that interview about how he plans to accomplish his goals.

" He also clearly is running a morals camapign against the Clintons in particular while being as brassknuckled in his politicking as the Clintons."

I don't see the Obama campaign running a morals campaign anymore than any of the other candidates. The Dem party itself is mostly about morals and their applicability to such issues as poverty, the environment, civil rights, equal rights, etc., etc. Obama has the clear moral advantage on the AUMF vote. For him not to use it would be stupid. And, in fact, he has not only that vote to point to but also Clinton's continued quasi-support for the invasion long after other Democrats had parted company with Bush.

"I think it is a bit of a stretch to say the link was anywhere near this topic."

The link was about a pro-choice advocate who switched her vote from Clinton to Obama between New Hampshire and South Carolina because of Clinton's attacks on Obama's pro-choice record which is every bit as solid as Clinton's. This thread is about politics and anti-abortion advocates.

PS: My handle is 'nepEta.' Not important, but an inside joke none the less. You're forgiven.

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

Correction: "switched her suppport to Obama"

Posted by: nepeta on January 24, 2008 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Right to Life is a lot like the NRA. They started out as a cause and ended up as a lobby/pressure group, gaining a small, useful piece of power by turning themselves over to the GOP. They rally the faithful they privately despise.
If Right to Life had an ounce of integrity they'd have roared their outrage at Bush's betrayal--lip service and fringe gestures against abortion, all while the GOP owned the Congress, White House and the Supreme Court. Bush could have signed an abortion criminalization bill in 2003 had he made the slightest effort.
And the fat cats running Right to Life will continue to support him and his ilk, while they milk the faithful.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on January 24, 2008 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian,

In truth I did not finish your dissertation on Obama, but I assume somewhere in there you explained how an ex-president of NOW's political sentiments are unrelated to the abortion issue.

And nepata, thanks for your courteous responses.

Posted by: Lucy on January 24, 2008 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

First, can anyone think of something similar on the Democratic side, where candidates are conspicuously afraid to be seen participating in a rally put on by some major liberal interest group?

I went to a press conference hosted by Sarah Brady in 2006 in Annapolis. The only people in the room not in her entourage were me and Ginny Simone from NRAnews.org.

You don't see a lot of Dems lining up to court her support anymore.

Then again...she's actually a Republican. That issue isn't nearly as neatly partisan and people seem to think.

Right to Life is a lot like the NRA

Ibid.

Er...no. Not even close. That issue isn't as partisan as RTL. The NRA didn't go over to the GOP until the Dems actively tossed their constituents under the bus as fast as they could. Short sighted reactive politics at its worst, and even so the pendulum has swung back quite a bit. The NRA has no problem going after GOPers that aren't good on their issue, and supporting Dems who are.

There are a lot more pro-gun Dems and anti-gun Rethuglicans than there are pro life Dems and pro-choice GOPers.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on January 24, 2008 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's a delicate balance. Have to keep Catholics and Evangelicals in the Rove fold, but have to avoid espousing religious dogma because of the First Amendment and backlash from mainstream Protestants and women. Part of this delicate balancing act is referring to anti-abortion Catholics and Evangelicals as "social conservatives" so they are seen as part of the "conservative" bloc of Reagan rather than as religious groups.

Posted by: Luther on January 24, 2008 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

As a previous commenter noted, we haven't seen a whole lot of Democratic politicians cozying up to anti-war folks. (Remember what Pelosi said about the folks camped out by her house last year?)

But the one that I keep thinking of is gay rights. How many Democrats do you see cozying up to, I dunno, Dan Savage, or marching in Pride parades? But some of the *do* pay lip service to gay rights.

Posted by: dougom on January 24, 2008 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

The politicians' retience is due to the vituperation which a biased media heaps upon anti-abortion groups. The politician offers support but does not wish to offer the media a demonization opportunity.

So - you should separate cause and effect. Your question really should be: why does the media treat this particular interest group so much worse than they do the others?

Posted by: a on January 25, 2008 at 3:43 AM | PERMALINK

Jan...I loved the one about abortion via laser guided missile. It really demonstrates these anti-abortion folks hypocrisy. LOL

Posted by: Merg on January 25, 2008 at 6:06 AM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth, I think that a child gets its soul not at conception, but with its first breath. Ergo, while abortion isn't a fun time, it isn't murder.

I'm willing to respect someone else's beliefs on this, but its a two-way street.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on January 25, 2008 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

why does the media treat this particular interest group so much worse than they do the others?

Please tell why you think the media treats the anti-reproductive rights groups worse than others and provide some examples. I am unable to agree with you, as I see deference by the media to most religious authority.

When Catholic authorities act like they control Jesus' forgiveness and refuse to give communion to politicians who disagree with the men of the Catholic hierarchy about women's reproductive rights, the media does not insult or disparage the Catholic leadership. Instead of insulting the pope, who wants to control women's reproductive rights with mythological authority, the media shows reverence to this anachronism who counsels men with HIV to not use a condom when having sex.

I have not seen Randall Terry insulted or disparaged in the mainstream media either. The media made him a national figure. Without the media's support this sick person would be unknown. This past week the media gave a lot of attention to the anti-reproductive rights activists and their demonstrations against R v W, but never mentioned limiting reproductive rights as their primary goal. Instead the media uses their words and images to help spread their message. Without the assistance of the media, the anti-reproductive rights activists and their authoritarian exploiters would have very little influence on political discourse.

Posted by: Brojo on January 25, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Doctor Jay,

I'm inclined to think it happens at some critical stage in brain development, mirroring what happens during brain-death.

Still it is interesting to know some of the history of this debate. My understanding is they used to think the soul was inserted when the woman detected the baby quickening. I think as we learn more and more about fetal development we will get a better understanding of 'brain birth' as well as 'brain death' and hopefully our spirituality will follow our knowledge, at least for most people.

Posted by: Tripp on January 25, 2008 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Did anyone else notice that David Vitter spoke at that protest? Isn't he the guy who got caught in the DC Madam scandal?

Posted by: LDL on January 25, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

LDL,

Do you mean this David Vitter?

"David Vitter is dedicated to making life better for his young family and all Louisiana families. He's focused on putting Louisiana first as an independent and outspoken reformer, and on advancing mainstream conservative principles like fornicating with call girls.

In the Senate, David serves on the Committees on Commerce, Science and Transportation; Environment and Public Works; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Working on these committees allows David to fornicate with call girls, focus on jobs, infrastructure, and economic development for every region of the state.

He's been particularly focused on lowering prescription drug prices, fornicating with call girls, saving our coast, and preserving and improving Social Security for future generations.

Prior to his service in the U.S. Senate, David represented the First Congressional District of Louisiana from 1999 - 2004. During that tenure he fornicated with call girls.

For his work in Congress and fornicating with call girls, David has received numerous awards from leading organizations such as Americans for Tax Reform, the 60 + Association, and the Family Research Council.

David and his wife Wendy live in Metairie with their four children, ages 13 and under, and are lectors at St. Francis Xavier Church. The call girls that he fornicates with live in Washington D.C., away from his wife and four children."

Posted by: Tripp on January 25, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Where are the pro-lifers to help "rescue" the Iraqi and Afghani children who are getting blown to smithereens?"

Here. (Raising my hand) I opposed the Bush overseas adventures and consider myself an ardent pacifist. My wife and I adopted a special needs child nobody else wanted.

"How about the majority of our Democratic leaders that failed to stop by and see Cindy Sheehan?"

Yep. Good one.

"Please don't use the term 'pro-life.'"

It's a basic courtesy to permit people to be described as they wish without labels. Some people are indeed anti-abortion and not pro-life, but not all.

"The idea that one fertilized cell has a soul is so interesting."

For most pro-life or anti-abortion people, it's not about ensoulment. It's just a basic human rights issue, fairly liberal at its core.

I marvel that many good-intentioned people can't get around the medical and legal definitions of life at the time of death don't seem to apply before birth. Fetuses with brain waves and heartbeats are aborted every day--not so much single cells, which don't stay single very long. Why isn't that recognized as a wasteful tragedy, even if the person seeking an abortion has a serious need?

But to get back to your point, yes, the Republicans play the conservative pro-lifers like a fine fiddle. My pro-life stance is questioned whenever I raise the point.

The moral problem is the mistaken notion that the ends (voting Republican) justifies the means. Sorry, but I just can't get my conscience around voting Republican. I might have to go to confession if I ever tripped the wrong switch by accident.

Posted by: Todd on January 25, 2008 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Earth to gullible pinheads:

Huckabee marched in a Right to Life parade in Atlanta.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/26654s

Posted by: J.R. on January 25, 2008 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Why isn't that recognized as a wasteful tragedy

Because abortion is good for society. We should encourage every woman who has an unwanted pregnancy to abort. Tragedy is a crying child, unwashed, unfed, unloved, abused. Unwanted children do not become good members of society. Our prisons are full of people who were unwanted and uncared for when children. The sums we pay to house them and the pain they cause are wasteful.

You should rejoice that Roe versus Wade protects you from fertility boards to determine if your capabilities to raise a child meet high standards. Unfortunately America, unlike China, does not regulate the reproduction of its people. Reproductive rights are civil rights and Roe versus Wade makes it impossible to make people get abortions if the pregnancy is unwanted, carried by an incompetent or exceeds an amount. In time these reasons will be used to force women to have abortions, and probably sooner than you think. The pro life movement will see to it Roe versus Wade is overturned and then someday in the near future the lack of constitutional reproductive rights will be used to make women not have children.

Posted by: e7 on January 25, 2008 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

I heard that after the Pro-Life March, all the pro-lifers in attendance headed over to the Pro-Death Penalty March, where they celebrated all the women that will die in childbirth who were denied the best medical advise possible from their doctors, that would have saved their life during a deadly, life-threatening pregnancy, which they could have survived to then have children later, if not for the rabidly rigid held positions of some righteous right-wingers.

Hasn't anyone noticed that for all the talk of being pro-life that more people tend to suffer and die due to the insane policies of these "pro-life" conservatives? Condoms denied...people die. All abortions outlawed...women die. Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld starting an unprovoked, premeditated, preemptive war in Iraq...hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men, women, children die and suffer while ten of thousands of our own soldiers end up either dead or maimed for life.

I'm not fooled. It's as if all the "pro-life" conservatives really have a death wish...for everyone else. In other words, for all their defending of "life," why do these people always end up getting so many people killed or cause so many others, including children, to suffer? Crazy, eh?

Posted by: The Oracle on January 26, 2008 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

"Because abortion is good for society."

e7, I'm not so sure. We've had abortion on demand in the US for two generations now. Prison population is way up in those same generations. Are you suggesting that the Reagan drugbust would be filling jails even more without Roe v Wade? Good for society? There's too much of a whiff of eugenics in the air on that one.

"We should encourage every woman who has an unwanted pregnancy to abort."

If it were about choice, every woman would be given the full array of choices: adoption, abortion, or keeping a child to raise responsibly. It would seem that a pro-choice person would want to maximize a woman's options rather than steer her into a particular favorite of the "advisor." My take on encouraging abortions is that such a position is "pro-abortion" and not "pro-choice." Isn't that right?

"Tragedy is a crying child, unwashed, unfed, unloved, abused. Unwanted children do not become good members of society."

An unplanned pregnancy doesn't automatically lead to an unwanted or abused child. Some people are adults about it. They get over a surprise, maybe make a few sacrifices, and welcome a new member into the family.

But you do have a point that child abuse and neglect is a problem. Some kids manage to overcome such odds, but too many--even in families that profess to love children--enter into adulthood with serious handicaps. Child abuse and neglect is mostly a separate problem. The USA has over 100,000 kids in foster care who are free to be adopted. About a half-million total no longer live with their birth parents and will someday need a permanent, stable home. Sometimes when I read the rhetoric on both sides of the abortion issue I want to issue a challenge:

Whoever wants the moral high ground, line up to adopt American children. Whoever has the most kids by the end of the year gets to set abortion policy. Ready? Set? Go!

Posted by: Todd on January 26, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

No. Everyone who has had one child, if they are deemed capable by the fertility board and allowed to even have that one, will have every other pregnancy aborted. Reproductive rights will not exist and the state will enforce its power to ensure only the best people, or those who dutifully pay the right amount of tribute, will be allowed to give birth after Roe versus Wade is overturned. Once a woman's reproductive rights are no longer protected by the constitution, the state will impose its need for social order and graft, leading to state imposed abortion. There is no moral high ground. There are either reproductive rights or there are not. If there are no reproductive rights, all moral considerations belong to the state.

Posted by: e7 on January 26, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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