Something To Talk About

Almost everyone we know is quite happy not to talk about abortion. The weather, the fortunes of the local sports team, the scandalous behavior of a neighbor, something amusing from the previous night’s television programs, even the medical complaints of older people, all are vastly more popular conversational fodder than abortion. The only possible explanation for the Democratic party’s sudden enthusiasm for the topic, then, is that they’d rather not talk about the economy.

A slew of bad economic news was vying for newspaper space and air time Tuesday as the Democrats opened their quadrennial convention, and even the cheerleaders in the national media were admitting that it cast a pall over the festivities. As the first speakers started up the orating the national debt passed the eye-popping $16 trillion mark, and despite the $5.4 trillion of borrowing during the Obama administration all the data suggest that the economy is slowing from its previously sluggish pace. Manufacturing has declined for three straights and most recently at the fastest pace in more than three years, construction spending has dropped, jobless claims are rising, what jobs are being created are mostly low-paying and unpleasant, median household income has declined by 7.3 percent, gas prices are rising, food stamp use is at an all-time high, and the best grade that Obama can give himself on economics is “incomplete.” All of this has caused consumer confidence to plummet, and because most voters are consumers the president’s poll numbers have also been on the decline.

Which is why the Democrats would prefer to talk about how the Republicans are plotting to keep women barefoot, pregnant, and chained to a stove. The Republicans don’t actually plan to do that, or at least they’re not campaigning on that plan, possibly because they sense the economy is a better issue, but the Democrats need something to talk about over three days. There’s also the issue of Mitt Romney’s taxes, although it’s hard to make the case for the president who appointed Timothy Geithner to head the Treasury Department on the basis that his opponent merely paid what was legally required, The convention has already featured lots of talk about higher taxes on the rich in general, a pet obsession of the Democrats’, but thus far they have offered no explanation of how that’s going to improve the economy.

In their zeal for abortion, same-sex marriage, and the more permissive positions on other social issues the Democrats could move farther along the secular path than the country at large is willing to go. The platform committee has proudly omitted a reference to “God-given rights” from the party’s statement of principles, possibly because the notion of a God is just too gauche, possibly because the notion of rights that don’t involve sexual intercourse is problematic, but running as the godless Democrats isn’t likely to win over many swing voters. God still has a lot of fans in this country, probably even more than Obama still has, and almost everybody enjoys the rights He granted.

People like having jobs and a solvent government, too, and sooner or later the Democrats will have to give them a reason to think that things are going to get better if we just keep doing what we’ve been doing.

— Bud Norman

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