Friday, June 6

:: Too little too late

Well, happily for all of us, the tremendous heat is going to give me a lot of time to catch up on my blogging. And laundry. But that's a different story. So brace yourself for TWO posts.

I've noticed that none of my Esteemed Colleagues have written about Hillary's speech yesterday, so I will attempt to add my opinion from far away, and a day late (this is how leaving the Capitol changes your values: they were at the speech, I was at yoga). But first, I'd like to turn away from the campaign for a moment and back to an earlier topic: the ongoing defensiveness at NARAL Pro-Choice America, following their premature presidential endorsement.

I was somewhat startled to receive in my (virtual) mailbox the other day a (virtual) letter from Nancy Keenan in response to my request to be removed from NARAL's mailing list. This would have been a lovely gesture three weeks ago when they first made this idiotic move, and faced an outstanding backlash from their own supporters and other feminist political leaders. But now, it rings hollow, which is sort of a shame, because this is the kind reasoning I would have liked to hear (and many asked for) at the time:
The timing of our endorsement was based on several factors. At the time our PAC endorsed, Sen. Obama lead overwhelmingly in the important markers leading to the nomination: pledged delegates, superdelegates, popular vote and cash on hand. Sen. Obama needed fewer than 30% of the remaining delegates to win; Sen. Clinton needed to win more than 70%. He is very likely going to be the Democratic nominee.
You can't argue with that cold logic. So why not just display cold logic instead of insipid cheering? Honestly, by the end of Nancy's video announcement, I was ready for her to get up and start waving pompoms.

But the rest of their explanation makes it clear to me that not only were they just sure they had the right candidate, they also wanted to make it it okay for their members to vote against his opponent, Hillary.
Second, the vast majority of voters still don't know just how pro-choice Barack Obama is and how anti-choice John McCain has been during the quarter-century he has been in Washington, DC. Many voters who may be inclined to support McCain don't know his positions on specific issues, particularly his consistent opposition to a woman's right to choose. They believe instead that John McCain is a "moderate" and a "maverick" so assume he must be pro-choice.

Sen. Obama has also been a strong advocate for a woman's right to choose throughout his career in public service. Since joining the Senate in 2005, he has worked to unite Americans on both sides of this debate behind commonsense, common-ground ways to prevent unintended pregnancy. He is an original cosponsor of the Prevention First Act, a package of proposals that would, among other things, provide teens with comprehensive sex education, prevent pharmacies from denying women access to their birth-control prescriptions, and increase access to family-planning services. Sen. Obama is also a cosponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would codify the tenets of Roe v. Wade and protect the right to choose for future generations. And he is the author of legislation to fix the birth-control pricing crisis facing millions of low-income women across the country today.
In other words kids, you don't need to vote for that crone Hillary! You can be like all the other cool progressive kids and make a vote for Obama AND for choice! (Nevermind that he says really weird and vague things about protecting Roe. With their new close relationship, can NARAL fix that??)

Which leads me to what NARAL continues to miss (or ignore), and which has lead many of us (hundreds? thousands? I'm guessing thousands) to give up our NARAL membership. First, that insipid announcement showed total disregard for its membership, many of whom were (and are) strong Hillary supporters. It made light of an important decision, not just for an organization, but for a movement. If their board was so split, then surely they should have known that their membership would be equally split. For me that indicates either hubris or incompetence. Either way, I'd rather not be associated with it.

Second, the contention that they could not campaign against McCain until they had someone to campaign for. Well, maybe I'm extraordinarily capable, but I have no problem doing that. I could support Hillary, and still acknowledge that Obama was also an excellent choice. And because there are two good pro-choice candidates, I find it very easy to point to McCain and talk about how this supposed "maverick" has embraced the very worst Christian fundamentalists this nation has to offer in order to get elected, and about his horrific voting record on reproductive health and freedom. See? That was easy.

I'll continue to support my local NARAL, one of many that was left scrambling to explain to its own membership that they had not made any endorsement themselves, and I wear my Planned Parenthood votes t-shirt with pride, but I'm staying clear of NARAL-PCA.

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