A Fluke Convention

The nation’s political discourse has been blissfully free of talk about abortion in recent years, one of the few benefits accrued from an avalanche of bad economic news, but the Democratic party seems eager to revive all the old arguments.

Emboldened by the widely publicized flap over Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin’s universally scorned misstatements about rape and abortion, and ever eager to talk about anything other than all that bad economic news, the Democrats are planning to turn their upcoming convention into a week-long abortion rights rally. The speakers chosen for the event are an all-star roster of abortion rights advocates, and the party’s web site is excitedly proclaiming that “Romney, Ryan, Akin and the GOP want to take women back to the dark ages,” which is apparently a reference to that medieval era of American history prior to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Among those taking the podium are Nancy Keenan, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League’s Pro-Choice America group, Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and Sandra Fluke, the celebrity law student who demanded that her Catholic university supply her contraceptives and became a feminist martyr of sorts when a radio host called her a “slut.” The lineup also includes Caroline Kennedy, one of the stars of the long-running Kennedy family reality show, the actress Eva Longoria, who is said to be very hot, and Barbara Mikulski, who is merely a senator from Maryland. All can be expected to wax indignant about the Republicans’ devious schemes to subjugate women in a “Handmaid’s Tale” dystopia just like 1972.

It should be a riveting spectacle for the handful of viewers who will be watching on cable, but we suspect that any women susceptible to this line of argument have probably already decided to vote for Obama. With abortion rights set in constitutional stone for the foreseeable future, and more pressing matters looming in the meantime, most are likely to cast their votes based on other issues. To the extent that the Republicans also seem more concerned with those other issues, they should benefit.

Nor should the Democrats be certain that they enjoy majority support on the social issues. Even many of the Americans who call themselves “pro-life” will sadly allow exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, but even many of those who call themselves “pro-choice” are opposed to late term abortions or abortions without parental consent, are in favor of allowing medical professionals and religious institutions to act according their own consciences, and don’t share the same unabashed enthusiasm for the procedure as the average Democratic convention speaker, so both parties have staked out positions that potentially alienate much of the country.

The Democratic strategy is also hindered by the obvious fact that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan aren’t Todd Akin. The pair have been admirably consistent in pressing the economic arguments that are of more interest to Americans at the moment, and are unlikely to be lured into a pointless brouhaha of the Democrats’ choosing.

— Bud Norman

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