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God, Women, and the Democrats

Even with professional football beckoning on another television channel, it’s hard to turn one’s attention away from the Democrats’ national convention. For bruising hits, strange behavior, and bizarre spectacle, even the National Football League can’t compete with the Democrats.

The highlight, thus far, was when a significant number of the assembled delegates booed God. This unprecedented moment in American politics occurred because earlier in the convention party officials had deleted a reference to “God-given rights” from the platform, leaving the document without any mention of the deity. Party poobahs were clearly rattled by the negative reaction from the more pious portions of the population, with Sen. Dick Durbin reacting to an interviewer’s seemingly innocent question about the matter as if the Spanish Inquisition were interrogating him, and they quickly asked the convention delegates to approve an amendment restoring God’s place in the party platform. After three tries God was ruled to have won a voice vote, although the “nays” certainly sounded louder each time and there was much booing, hissing and jeering throughout.

The Democrats can now insist that they officially have nothing against God, although if pressed they’d have to say that He is no Barack Obama, and a couple of subsequent speakers even made a point of mentioning God in what they probably considered a favorable light. Black Congressional Caucus leader Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver delivered a rousing sermon on the goodness, mercy, and bountiful blessings of big government, exhorting the president to “continue to hope,” then adding very specifically that “As long as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sits on the throne of grace, hope on!” A short time earlier the delegates had also contentiously approved a platform amendment restoring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and we assume that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would have approved. Elizabeth Warren, the fake Indian affirmative action scammer and Massachusetts Senate candidate whose self-righteous anger stands out even at a Democratic convention, mentioned her past service as a Sunday school teacher and even recited some New Testament verses proving God is a socialist who hates Republicans, corporations, and religious people as much as she does.

The delegates were also treated to a speech by Sandra Fluke, the 30-year-old Georgetown law school student who demanded that her Catholic university provide her with birth control and became famous when a prominent radio host called her a “slut,” and so far as we can tell there was no mention of God. Fluke’s speech was part of the convention’s emphasis on issues of importance to women. Judging by the Democratic convention one might conclude that women are mostly interested in abortion, birth control, and sexual freedom, but in our unfortunate experience they seem far more interested in their jobs.

In keeping with the theme of how much Democrats love women, the convention followed up its tribute to Ted Kennedy with a much ballyhooed speech by serial sexual harasser and alleged rapist Bill Clinton. The man who gave America the subprime mortgage was called on because of the public’s lingering memories of the good times before the crash, and he spoke about how tough Obama’s had it and how hard he’s tried, but mostly it sounded very much like those trombone sounds that the adults used to make on the “Peanuts” television specials, and by that point the game was getting good.

Today’s big finale has been moved from the gigantic Bank of America Stadium, which had been re-named “Panthers’ Stadium” to avoid any embarrassing association with nasty old bankers, and depending on who’s talking it was either because of a forecast with a slight possibility of rain or a fear that they’d wind up with a lot of un-telegenic empty seats. Either way it was a lucky break for the Carolina Panthers, because they’ll be hard pressed to top the Democrats’ spectacle even if they make it to the Super Bowl.

— Bud Norman

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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

Who Are the Bullies?

Bullying is a major problem in America, we’re told, even though everyone is against it.

There is no national organization that lobbies for bully rights, at any rate, and all of the people speaking out on the issue share the same disapproving attitudes about it. Yet bullying undeniably remains a common human failing, just as it has been since the dawn of time. The only explanation for this apparent paradox is that the people doing all the bullying don’t consider themselves bullies, as several stories recently in the news illustrate.

Consider the case of Dan Savage, a homosexual rights advocate, author of the “Savage Love” advice column, and the founder of an anti-bullying project called “It Gets Better.” Savage was recently invited to address a national gathering of high school journalism students, which suggests that society has arrived at a rather tolerant attitude towards homosexuality, but he apparently cannot tolerate that others might have religious objections to the practice. Although he was invited to speak to other issues, Savage used his time to launch into an obscenity-laced tirade against the Bible and Christianity, then taunted a large number of Christian students as they quietly walked out.

At least Savage wasn’t demanding the Christian students to subsidize his sexual activities, as Sandra Fluke did when she urged Congress to compel her Catholic University to provide her with birth control.

Then again, at least Fluke didn’t crucify anybody, as former Environmental Protection Agency official Al Armendariz boasted of metaphorically doing to the oil companies he was charged with regulating. Armendariz is now a former EPA official because he told an audience in Dish, Texas, two years ago that his way of doing the government’s business was borrowed from the ancient Roman colonialists who would “find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them.” The speech was recently uncovered and created a delayed controversy, especially among the many oil producers in Armendariz’ five-state region who believed that the analogy only slightly overstated his actual methods, and the heat proved too much even for an Obama administration that had emboldened him to be so frank.

More bullying is planned for today by the rapscallions in the Occupy Wall Street gang, who have issued a call to celebrate May Day with “direct action and civil disobedience” and “other creative disruptions against the corporations who rule our city.” It’s not entirely clear what these creative disruptions will be, but the San Francisco branch has contemplated shutting down the Golden Gate Bridge, a past demonstration has shut down the Brooklyn Bridge, and blocking traffic and otherwise interfering with people’s lives has been an Occupy trademark.

In every case these bullies would be surprised and offended to hear that they are, in fact, bullies. They no doubt regard themselves in a more heroic light, thinking themselves fearless defenders of the bullied, but it’s pure self-delusion.

Savage had no way of knowing if any of the students whose faith he insulted had ever bullied a homosexual, and our experience of Christians predicts that the vast majority had not. Fluke was hailed as both hero and victim after a talk radio show host rudely characterized her as a “slut,” but it was Fluke — not the Catholic Church, not the rude talk show host — who was trying to impose her moral values on others. Armendariz might of have thought that he was protecting the environment, but maybe he was only interfering with necessary commerce, and it was up to the law to decide, not him. The Occupy people may think that they’re striking a blow for the working man by delaying his drive home from work by a few hours, but we suspect they wouldn’t be doing it at all if it weren’t so much more fun than working.

They’ll never see it that way, of course. They’re the good people, after all. The smart ones who need to teach the others a lesson. Bullies will always tell you that they’re just trying to teach someone a lesson.

— Bud Norman

No Way to Treat a Lady

One should never call a woman a slut, unless she’s into that, and it would have been better if Rush Limbaugh had not done so. Still, the indignation of his critics is hard to bear.

If you’ve limited your news reading to the important things, you might have missed the story. In the wake of the Obama administration’s decision that the Catholic church should provide contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization for the employees of its hospitals, schools and other large institutions, a Georgetown University law student with the intriguing name of Sandra Fluke spoke before an unofficial congressional hearing about the burdensome injustice of not being provided contraceptive coverage by the Catholic school. Radio commentator Limbaugh disapprovingly commented on her comments during his popular program, and in the course of his commentary he likened her to a prostitute and referred to her as a “slut.” Much tsk-tsking ensued from the rest of the commenting industry, several politicians expressed grave offense, outraged activist groups scared away some advertisers, and Limbaugh wound up apologizing at length on consecutive broadcasts.

Such broadcasting brouhahas pop up from time to time, heaping massive amounts of publicity on the offending speaker before fading from the public’s memory, and this is just another one of them. Limbaugh’s many enemies are hoping to make the most of it, however, and it should be noted that their protests are censorious, opportunistic, and hypocritical.

The president apparently called Fluke “to express his disappointment that she has been the subject of inappropriate personal attacks,” but he won’t be returning the million bucks that was raised for his campaign by foul-mouthed comedian Bill Maher, who has refused to apologize for calling former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin an ever harsher epithet that does not bear repeating here. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Republicans to disavow “the vicious and appropriate attacks,” but had no public opinion when television wag David Letterman insinuated that Palin’s apolitical daughter was promiscuous. Rep. Steny Hoyer is apparently advising Fluke to sue, but offered no such advice to conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham after MSNBC’s Ed Schultz called her a “right-wing slut.”

Examples of such liberal vitriol abound, as any prominent conservative woman will attest, and are in keeping with the generally degraded nature of contemporary popular culture. Since the days of Lenny Bruce and The Berkeley Barb the cultural left has championed vulgarity, profanity, and the personal attack as authentic and liberating, and at this late date it’s galling to hear them complain that some of it has seeped in to Limbaugh’s shtick.

Still, it would have been better if Limbaugh hadn’t said that. It’s not only unseemly, so very like the sort of people he usually rails against, but it also distracted from a fair critique of a ridiculous young woman who chose to thrust herself into the national political discourse. Fluke’s notion that her rights are being violated if the government doesn’t pay for it will prove extremely expensive if put into practice, given that we’ve all got a right to guns and many other costly things, and she deserves ridicule. It’s bad enough when people think the world owes them a living, but Fluke seems to think it owes her some loving as well.

Which is not meant to imply any promiscuity on her part, of course. She’s no doubt a fine young woman, just slightly mistaken.

— Bud Norman