Political Animal


August 28, 2012 10:40 AM Mitt’s Futile Nothing-To-See-Here Moment on Abortion

By Ed Kilgore

It’s not surprising that Mitt Romney would want to tamp down any talk about abortion policy as “his” convention gets underway. It’s supposed to be a dog whistle issue, disposed of in the background by wildly radical language in the party platform, and then rhetorical winks and nods about “respect for life” and “judicial activism” and constitutional originalism.

Todd Akin kinda screwed up that plan, so Mitt’s trying to get the genie back into the bottle, or so it seems from his “nothing-to-see-here-folks” comments on the subject in an interview published yesterday:

“My position has been clear throughout this campaign,” Romney said. “I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother.”
“Recognize this is the decision that will be made by the Supreme Court,” he said. “The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years, but this is a matter in the courts. It’s been settled for some time in the courts.”

Unfortunately, all Mitt probably did there is to arouse the suspicions of antichoice activists, who already don’t trust him as far as they can throw him. His spox had to repudiate his apparent endorsement of a “health exception” to a hypothetical abortion ban before sundown yesterday; it’s the mother of all abominations to serious RTL types, as even the ideologically tone deaf John McCain understood in 2008 in mocking the very idea during his joint appearance with Barack Obama at Rick Warren’s church.

And I’m sure Mitt’s going to have to “clarify” his suggestion that abortion is an issue that’s been “settled” by the courts. The “constitutionalization” of abortion policy via Roe v. Wade is essentially the one great Original Sin that led to today’s Abortion Holocaust, in the eyes of antichoice activists. That’s why the GOP party platform that Mitt’s campaign had to have signed off on endorses a constitutional amendment that would truly “settle” the question of fetal rights once and for all. And that’s why Republican politicians from coast to coast are sponsoring “fetal pain” bills that would chip away at Roe, banning abortions that would have universally been considered constitutionally protected in the recent past. Mitt might have heard of these bills, since he publicly promised to “advocate for and support” a federal version of them in a statement entitled “My Pro-Life Pledge” just last year.

Akin can certainly be blamed for stirring up a hornet’s nest of talk about abortion at the worst possible time for Romney and the GOP. But hedging and prevaricating about his own and his party’s positioning on the subject won’t work for Mitt. On this subject, the world’s most exacting and sleepless ideological commissars are constantly vigilant and determined to exert their iron control over the major political party they’ve finally managed to conquer.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • biggerbox on August 28, 2012 11:03 AM:

    More, the whole "courts" dodge pretends that the President has no role in nominating the judges and Justices who will make future decisions. And, if I'm not mistaken, Mitt's on record saying he'll appoint pro-lifers to the bench.

  • c u n d gulag on August 28, 2012 11:07 AM:

    This is what happens when you court the Manichean religious absolutists;

    If you ain't ABSOLUTELY with 'em - you're a'gin 'em!

    And after deciding to lay down with dogmatists, it's kind of disingenous to whine about how their philosophical fleas are leaving marks on you.

    And VP candidate Paul Ryan has a long, long, history of bedding-down with dogmatists, religious and corporate -and all that's ever been involved is the haggling over his price.

  • Lifelong Dem on August 28, 2012 11:14 AM:

    "His spox had to repudiate his apparent endorsement of a “health exception” to a hypothetical abortion ban before sundown yesterday"

    This is classic Romney! Take a position and then have to disavow it hours later. Why has the media stopped pointing this out to people? He's a human Etch-A-Sketch.

  • R. Porrofatto on August 28, 2012 11:15 AM:

    And if Democrats were as shamelessly dishonest as Republicans, the pull-quote for the ads would be: Romney says "I’m in favor of abortion being legal."

  • TR on August 28, 2012 11:19 AM:

    Yeah, the election has nothing to do with abortion, because abortion is decided by the Supreme Court, and we all know the next president won't have any role in determining who's on the Supreme Court, right?

  • Grumpy on August 28, 2012 11:22 AM:

    Todd Akin kinda screwed up that plan...

    Don't blame Akin. He didn't say anything Republicans haven't been saying for years. Abortion is on the agenda today because Democrats, by highlighting Akin's remark, put it on the agenda. Credit where it's due.

  • sjw on August 28, 2012 11:23 AM:

    The way Romney wants to be all things to all people is unprecedented in presidential politics. His campaign literally has no core message. But it's working. The race is a toss up. And maybe the reason it's working is because a.) the MSM is congenitally unable to call out lies, and b.) the MSM wants at least the appearance of a real horse race in order to sell commercials. I've never seen anything like this.

  • Ron Byers on August 28, 2012 11:36 AM:


    Are you sure it is working? I am not. The national polling numbers used to prove this is a real race don't add up. The press seems to be cooking the books.

  • stormskies on August 28, 2012 11:44 AM:

    The press is cooking the books. They are 'actively complicit' is trying to deceive and lie to our country and the pathological liar Romney is himself.

    It's what they are paid to do.

  • majun on August 28, 2012 11:59 AM:

    I find Romney's choice of words very revealing:

    “Recognize this is the decision that will be made by the Supreme Court. The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years, but this is a matter in the courts. It’s been settled for some time in the courts.”

    I take that to be a dog whistle message to the RTL base - translated as, "My first order of business, if elected, is to appoint a Supreme Court Justice who will overturn Roe v. Wade."

  • dalloway on August 28, 2012 12:09 PM:

    Romney's on film endorsing a Constitutional amendment to ban abortion. The Republican Party Platform says no abortions, no exceptions, life begins at conception. My cat could make a commercial connecting the dots. Mittsy can't etch-a-sketch this one.

  • Grumpy on August 28, 2012 12:20 PM:

    "The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years..."

    Um, Mitt, it's GOP legislators who've spent the past couple of years sponsoring and passing an unprecedented number of abortion-related bills. While Democrats may be calling attention to the trend (using Akin as the poster boy), they are not the ones who "make this a political issue."

  • Kathryn on August 28, 2012 12:41 PM:

    As Dalloway points out, Romney is on film stating his support of a Constitutional ban on abortion. I remember some months ago, Pres. Obama said that all that his campaign has to do is run tape of statements made by Romney. I've seem him say he would gladly sign a bill banning all abortions, he advocates self deportation on tape, the Arizona papers please plan should be a model for the nation, on tape, when talking about Pres. Obama's lack of business experience, he said, he (Obama) doesn't know when to send jobs overseas and these are just a few I remember.

  • Peter C on August 28, 2012 12:45 PM:



    How stupid does he think we are?