Sunday, June 12, 2005

Clift, Fineman Survey the Scene

Howard Fineman, who is really one of the better political commentators, puts his finger on why Dean is bad for the party. First, though, he makes a good point about Democratic fundraising; that is, Democrats, who despite their faux populist image have ALWAYS been the party of the rich (George Soros, Hollywood, big wigs on the coasts, etc.), now have to do more retail fundraising in small donations. When viewed that way, Fineman says Dean has not been the disaster that many, including myself, have made him out to be.

Still, Fineman says, Dean has a bigger problem than his big mouth; he actually believes what his big mouth is saying. Or, in Fineman's words:
...Dean's real problem may not be his mouth but his mind-set. He and his aides seemed genuinely mystified at the idea that his characterization of the GOP was a political mistake. But by labeling the other party a bastion of Christianity, he implied that his own was something else - something determinedly secular - at a time when Dean's stated aim is to win the hearts of middle-class white Southerners, many of whom are evangelicals. In a slide-show presentation at the DNC conference last weekend, polltaker Cornell Belcher focused on why those voters aren't responding to the Democrats' economic message. One reason, he said, is that too many of them see the Democrats as 'anti-religion.' And why was that? No one asked Dean, who wasn't taking questions from the press.
Meanwhile, Eleanor Clift is asking if abortion will decide Election 2008:
Conservatives will have to decide who they hate more in 2008, Hillary Clinton or John McCain. That's how a veteran of the Reagan White House sizes up the current field. The religious right loathes Hillary, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and they love Virginia Sen. George Allen, an amiable, Reagan-like figure whose father once coached the Redskins. Allen will do well in the Republican primaries, but polls will show him losing by 7 percentage points to Hillary at the same time they show McCain handily beating her. That will be the moment of truth for evangelical Christians. What they do depends on how hungry they are to win. If they go with McCain, he could ease their anxieties by choosing Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as his running mate.

Improbable, you say, but this comes from a savvy observer of the political scene. Brother Jeb is beloved among the Christian right for shepherding the case of the brain-damaged Terri Schiavo into the national spotlight, and the Bush dynasty is yearning to be established. Tucked in a New Yorker article last month on McCain was the revelation that he assured conservative activist Gary Bauer that if elected president he would nominate pro-life judges. Bush refused to make such an explicit promise, which is why Bauer endorsed McCain in the 2000 primaries.

McCain broke with the religious right over the gay-marriage amendment, but he is pro-life and has a 100 percent voting record in Congress to prove it.
Baloney...McCain and Hillary may well end up being the nominees (though they both will have to face a brutal primary fight to get there), but the fundamental problem with this message is the messenger. Clift is one of those old school liberals who wears it like a badge, and she sees politics through the skewed frame that abortion is the issue that really matters, as if all of humanity has been a struggle to reach the mountaintop, i.e., abortion at will.

In my view, abortion will not be the first, second, third, or fourth biggest factor in Election 2008. It may come in at twelfth, but no higher. Abortion has ALWAYS meant far more to Democrats than it does to America; indeed, it is the single greatest uniting factor of the modern party. Yes, some elements of the Right see the pro-life issue as a huge deal, but most Americans accept that abortion will be legal, but they don't particularly like it, and they certainly don't see it as something to celebrate. Far more important factors in the election will be Iraq and the War on Terror generally, the state of the economy, and yes, 'values', of which the stand on abortion is but a small part.

Clift speaks of the Democratic strategy of 'new ways to talk about' abortion, as if the American people are so stupid that we will, overnight, forget that it is the Democrats who always oppose even the most commonsense abortion laws. This isn't surprising, though; most Democrats have failed to realize that no matter how you dress manure, it smells just as bad. In other words, forget the syntax, it's the content they should be concerned with.

UPDATE 8:47 p.m. central: For a completely different view of the importance of abortion to Election 2008, see this comment on a previous post...

UPDATE 2 9:08 p.m. central: Hilariously, the see-no-evil Kossacks are focusing on Howard's half-hearted defense of Dean's fundraising by spotlighting an article that is overwhelmingly negative towards their man...

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