Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Obama targets McCain-Palin on abortion

By Michael J.W. Stickings

With McCain and the Republicans running on more of the same, or worse, as well as on McCain's mythological cult of maverick personality, all against a backdrop of nationalist kitsch, Obama and the Democrats are focusing on issues that actually matter to Americans, including -- and this is a fairly new one for Democrats -- abortion.

It was once the Republicans who more or less successfully hammered the Democrats for being anti-life, but now, with the balance on the Supreme Court tilting right, and with Roe in danger of being overturned, Democrats have discovered, at long last, that they can hammer Republicans for being anti-choice. Indeed, with the extremist fringe coming to control much of the GOP, including its latest platform, abortion is now essentially a Democratic issue.

And Obama gets it. As Le Politico is reporting:

[He] has launched a broadside against John McCain's opposition to abortion rights and moved one of the most divisive issues in modern American politics to the airwaves on a large scale for the first time in this presidential campaign.

Obama's new radio ad, airing widely in at least seven swing states, tells voters McCain "will make abortion illegal." It's airing as McCain courts female voters with the addition of the staunchly anti-abortion governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to his ticket.

Elsewhere, Le Politico accuses Obama of reigniting the culture wars, a throwback to the Reagan-Bush-Clinton years, but that is simply not the case. What is happening is Obama addressing an issue -- yes, a cultural one, but also a legal one, one that deals with women's rights and the right to privacy generally -- that is of great concern to Americans, and to women in particular, one that affects them as intimately as any other.

And the point is this: The Supreme Court is already tilting to the right. With McCain in the White House, and with Palin on board representing the fundamentalist theocrats, openings on the Court, likely resulting from the liberals retiring, would be filled not by bipartisan mavericks but by Scalias and Alitos. That would mean the end of Roe -- the end of abortion rights, the undoing of privacy rights, and a sustained legal and cultural assault on women.

Times have changed and this is an issue that Obama must continue to raise aggressively against McCain-Palin. Indeed, as TNR's Noam Scheiber puts it, "it actually makes a lot of sense" -- not least because "[t]he majority abortion position in the United States, according to most polls, is in favor of restrictions but against outlawing the procedure." That is, the majority is now significantly closer to Obama and the Democrats than to McCain and the Republicans.

The contrast is stark, the choice is clear. And Obama is doing well to draw the key distinctions and to make the case against an opposition that holds an extremist position on abortion. With Roe in the balance, this is one issue that should resonate in his, and the Democrats', favour.

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