Sunday, August 19, 2012
"...you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"
-- Anton Vigo, Ratatouille, 2007
I will admit to you that the inspiration for the kick-off of this week's Into the Echo Chamber was what prompted me to write much of the last Finally Friday post. Nonetheless, I feel it remains relevant to our evolving conversation this week. As I always try to do, though, I will start with an update from Spencerian Blue, which is that they are focusing largely on the organizing piece of things, which seems to be the fall back mode there. That's fine -- they're really good at it.
To be honest with you, Matt, I'm having a hard time understanding the mainstreaming of this idea that now, suddenly, here in the middle of August, tone matters so very much, and that the real culprit of the "nasty" tone of the campaign is, somehow, Barack Obama. I guess the trigger was the Vice President's remarks to a group of African American's at a campaign stop in Virginia, where he said:
"(Romney) is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, unchain Wall Street," Biden said at a campaign event in Danville, Virginia. "He is going to put y'all back in chains."
Never mind that he was making reference to Speaker Boehner, who had himself used the word "unshackled" when referring to the Ryan Budget plan. [Pro tip to all politicians of all stripes everywhere: shitty idea to use chain references in any capacity. Anywhere. At any time. Stop it.]
It's times like this I like to ask for a bit of context, or as Anton Vigo said in the great 2007 movie Ratatouille, "You know what I'm craving? A little perspective."
I am to understand that the same party which cheered Rick Perry's horrifying, frightening death penalty record,cheered the death of a person with no insurance, booed a gay soldier who had honorably served his country, circulated a supremely racist picture of Obama, mainstreamed the national shame of birtherism, openly called Obama a Muslim (while at the same time, without even a smidgen of irony, mercilessly attacked the reverend of his family's Christian church), and more recently vociferously attacked an innocent, Muslim staffer at the U.S. Department of State* is shocked -- just shocked! -- that a national Democratic Campaign has been, well, tough.
Most recently are comments from Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri, a man running for Senate against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill:
"From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," said Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist."
Let's be clear, here, Matt: these aren't just the words of an idiot. They are the words of a bully, and a class-A sonofabitch. The people of Missouri shouldn't let this guy within a hundred yards of public office, much less the U.S. Senate.
Yet Akin appears to be beating McCaskill quite soundly. We'll see what impact his un-walk-back-able comments have on the race (he's since offered up a meaningless, utterly hollow apology for "misspeaking", of course).
I get frustrated, Matt, when the bullies get away with it. And Obama's ad featuring Joe Soptic -- the man who lost his job thanks to Bain Capital and his wife to cancer -- has been over-analyzed at this point. From my view, what hasn't been analyzed enough is the Romney/Ryan and GOP response to it.
Look, I've never known a bully not to whine and cry like a baby when he gets a little push-back. Democrats -- lead by President Obama who is running like a man with not much to lose, and when you've been accused of everything in the book ("born in Kenya!"), why wouldn't you -- are finally punching back. And maybe for Republicans, it doesn't feel so hot.
I spent my formative professional years in the Clinton Administration. I know what Republican bullying means. Back then it was at the hands of Newt Gingrich. And in 1996 there was a genuinely nice man, Senator Bob Dole, who did politics the old way, nominated to be the Republican candidate for President.
Clinton would push back, but he was always sure to do it in a way that would make him look good in the end -- and he was better than anyone at figuring out how to do just that. And it worked.
I think Obama is not afraid to just push back a bit more openly. This has Republicans worried, because the problem this time around is, their nominee is actually not a very nice guy. Even from when he was in high school, Romney was a bully.
Republicans have been bullying -- and lying -- for a long time. Problem is, when you're a bully, you'll either eventually run out of people to bully, or you'll finally meet that kid on the playground who is not scared of you.
Yes, the Obama Campaign has worked very hard on building that grass-roots effort once again. And it's not a support group for people who have been bullied.
It's people who are ready to fight back.
Over to you, Matt.
*Republican John McCain, to his great credit, loudly denounced this unfounded attack on the Senate Floor.
# # # #
Tuesday, Auguest 21, 2012
What we've got here is Ward-Gatti or Hagler-Hearns, or for the MMA inclined Cerrone-Henderson. Two guys standing in the middle of the ring throwing haymakers. I don't think that is a surprise to anyone. This will be the first election cycle that passes the billion dollar mark in spending - and the huge bulk of that will be negative. This is the nature of the beast. Why? Because negative works. It does. Negative campaigning from Saxby Chambliss managed to swing his U.S. Senate race in Georgia against Max Cleland in 2002 by calling his patriotism into question. You may remember Mr. Cleland as a Vietnam War veteran who lost both legs and an arm in service of his country. Labeled unpatriotic. Seriously. And it turned the race at the very end.
So yes, negative works. Truth and decency be damned. And we are about to see a whole hell of a lot more of it. At the end of July, the RNC had $89 Million on hand and the DNC had $15 Million. The Romney campaign has $185 Million on hand and the Obama campaign has $123 Million. Guess who we are going to hear a lot of bad stuff about in the coming weeks?
Let's be honest for a moment. Both sides are going to distort and manipulate the truth. Both are going to seek to shade each issue and personal trait and historical tale in the most favorable light. We know this. Hell, even the unsophisticated voter just beginning to pay attention knows this. It still works. Obama and allies will portray Romney as a Bond villain stroking a cat in his secret lair while sponsoring bum fights. Romney and the crew will portray Obama as a colossal failure and unworthy of the job of POTUS.
As the President's favorite character from The Wire, Omar Little once said, "You come at the king, you best not miss." The question is, which guy is Wee-Bey and which one is Omar. At this point, it looks like the one who has missed is Romney. I do not think they have been able to exploit Obama's weaknesses - the Affordable Care Act (what is that, you ask? You know it fondly as Obamacare) and the sluggish economy. Interestingly, both Beck and O'Reilly disagree. They think if the election were held today, Romney would win. They say internal polling is telling a very different story than what we are hearing through mainstream media (ignoring, of course that THEY ARE mainstream media). I have to say, I have not seen that opinion in many other places.
The blunt truth of campaigning is that raising a candidates favorables is hard work and incremental work at best. Raising your opponent's negatives is much easier. Romney started out with a favorability deficit and everyone in @SpencerianRed knows it. No matter what has happened over the past four years, Obama's personal favorables have remained strong. This, above any other metric, is why the sane residents of @SpencerianRed side is worried. This is what kept Jeb and Mitch Daniels and John Thune and Haley Barbour and so many others out of the race. When you come at the king - or the sitting POTUS - you better get it right the first time. (Hat tip to David Simon.)
As for the twitters, the new narrative - same as the old narrative - on the Red side is tax hikes. This time, they are pitching Obama's desire to raise taxes wrapped around Obamacare. A two-fer. The biggest GOP problem here is that - like stock prices - this line of argument has already been factored in. It is not new information and will not sway a single new voter. So, with that in mind, I have noticed a decent amount of fishing for new material going on. What is the next best line of attack? Is there a foreign policy weakness to exploit? Not really. Is there a new angle to take on spending issues? Not really. The only places left to go are social issues and personal attacks. I would put down some good money that the week leading up to the RNC will see a new social issue emerge.... One that will paint Obama as an extremist. The only kink in that plan is that the moron from Missouri has sucked up all the political light with his asinine comments. I am (slightly) heartened by the fact that I have not come across a single defense of the stupidity.
I have seen a few who have chosen to condemn and immediately, in the same sentence even, pivot to attacks on Obama. This is stupid. I will never understand why a politician would do it. Staying on message is one thing, even pivoting is understandable political maneuvering, but shoehorning your point into a negative story that is not about you has never played well and never will. But it will all go away. You could see how badly the Red world wanted it to go away by how quickly Akin was abandoned. They did not want this to be a multi-day story because there really isn't much room for new narrative before the convention and I think they have something on tap.
Any guesses? What do you see as the narrative leading into Tampa?
# # # #
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Before we discuss enduring the flood of negative advertising in this campaign, I think it is appropriate to mention that by the time we post this exchange on Thursday evening, Tropical Storm #9 could well be a hurricane , reaching the eastern tip of Puerto Rico. By Thursday, it is forecast to be in the middle of Cuba. By my rough, unscientific calculations, it could be impacting just about any part of the western coast of Florida by next Wednesday.
Welcome to Florida, Republican Conventioneers!
Not for nothing, but the tropical depression forming right behind it has, as of this writing, a 60% chance of tropical cyclone formation.
Storm's a'comin', Matt.
Stormy weather aside, there is something larger here than just negative advertising. Yes, there is an abundance of negative advertising. Yes, there is even too much. Yes, it is all rocket-fueled by an obscene amount of money -- on both sides, though everyone agrees the sides are lopsided at this juncture.
Yes, negative works.
There is, however, a larger piece here I want to get you focused on, and that is tone. Sure, the advertisements are a part of setting the tone, but by my definition, tone is about the larger conversation happening around the campaign. It's more than the ads. What are the candidates saying? What are their surrogates and party leaders saying?
Why am I talking about this? Because I suspect we're going to discover a real distinction between Spencerian Blue world and Spencerian Red world. In Spencerian Blue world, they're still talking about organization (SB has now followed all of the Obama for America Twitter feeds in key swing states). And the conversations coming out are about sharing grassroots-level stories.
They want to share stories, Matt. They want to share their own stories.
Yes, much of the discourse is colored in Release the tax returns! Bain Capital! or Rich people hate you! but I believe that is borne more out of frustration from the blue side, less as the core of the message.
At it's core, at the base are still people who have -- against all odds -- hope.
I'll just take a guess here -- you'll be able to report it better than I -- but I think at the core of red country is nothing more than attacks, however creative they may be, against Obama. The Republicans played a good short game, and it netted them a worthy return: victories in 2010. But they lost sight of the long game.
They lost touch with real people. Who is their nominee? A fabulously wealthy man who has no idea how normal people function in America day to day. In the It's a Numbers Game edition I posted tonight, I linked to the Gallup survey which showed that one in four Mississippi residents struggle to afford food. They struggle to eat, Matt. Mitt Romney is trying to figure out what kind of car elevator he wants to buy for one of his many mansions. An entire state in our beloved union is suffering for lack of food.
And Mississippi is a blood-red state. They will overwhelmingly vote for Romney in November. Which may explain, in part, why Mitt Romney so desperately wants to hide his story. And anyone who genuinely supports him -- and we can all agree that Sheldon Adelson tops that list; the only man more out of touch than a billionaire investment banker is a billionaire casino mogul -- has lost sight of what matters most.
People. Republicans used to do well with some of the social issues. When they're writing the history, they'll note, perhaps that those days passed them by.
Pro-life. It's not about a fetus or women's health. It's about a baby or so we were led to believe for going on forty years, now.
Problem is, it is about women, as Congressman Todd Akin reminded us so offensively this week.
Guns. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Second Amendment freedoms. Or so we were led to believe.
Another inconvenient talking point that tragically doesn't happen to be true. We've been reminded of the falseness and hollowness of that statement again and again in recent past weeks.
Matt, I've always equated folks who don't have a story to someone who is falling. I don't know why, but that's how I see people -- especially politicians -- when there is no unifying narrative backing them up. Who are they? Why are they here?
I don't think they Romney Campaign has ever had a story, except to say, "It's my turn." I know the Republican Party hasn't had a unifying narrative in some time.
This campaign, Romney as the nominee, and the Convention are really the start of that gigantic mistake coming to fruition.
So the answer to your question is, there won't be a narrative going into convention week. They'll just fall into it. Just like they fall into every other week. And the consequences could be disastrous.
A storm is coming, Matt.
By the way, I'm glad you brought up former Georgia Senator Max Cleland. He wrote the must-read Strong at the Broken Places, the sentiment and title of which I shamelessly stole for this edition of Into the Echo Chamber. By the way, if you want to talk about Max Cleland, you need to speak with your newest Spencerian colleague and proud Georgia native, Laura Jane Cohen. Talk about stories: she has them, and they're worth hearing.
So tell me, Matt: after the Romney Campaign folks read this (!!!), what story do you think they'll develop to cover the next two month? Remember: beginning, middle and end. And it has to be a positive story -- a reason to vote for Romney/Ryan. Not just against Obama.
Go ahead. I'll get the popcorn.
# # # #
Thursday, August 23, 2012
I don't disagree with a single word you said about negativity, about the Blue side wanting to tell stories, about the lack of a story for the Red side to tell when their nominee is the worst possible embodiment of the message they wish they could send. I am still sometimes amazed at the terrible field of candidates that were the Republican contenders. Their big stick this year should have been Obamacare, but their nominee keeps them from swinging it. They could have argued about the plight of the middle class, but their nominee is not just a 1%er, but a .1%er. They have stomped all over their own message.
Todd Akin did it for them again this week. There is no justification, no rationalization, no excuse for what he said. I will not defend him, nor will anyone I am reading on @SpencerianRed. As a matter of fact, it is a who's who of prominent GOPers who have called for his resignation from the race. His comment represents the worst of not politics, but of humanity. To ever trivialize or minimize something as traumatic as rape is inexcusable and intolerable.
But I do disagree with something you said. In fact, I disagree strongly. So strongly that I had to take a day before responding to make sure I was writing from a place of compassion and not just passion. So please forgive me this slight digression to answer very personally something you said in your last email.
A couple of weeks ago in this feature, I wrote about life as the foundational right upon which all others are based and have meaning. I wrote this in the context of our government failing again and again to protect its citizens from gun violence. But that is not where my conviction ends.
Ben, you are a good friend and know a lot about me and my family. Readers of the Spencerian are not as familiar. So, since the theme of the week is stories, I will share a couple of deeply personal ones. Three, actually. Three stories that I hope will shed some light on my personal belief that all life is sacred, no matter how young.
Ben, you and I shared many stories over the past year as our wives were pregnant simultaneously. Some of this may be familiar to you, but please indulge me.
Last fall, after finding out we were pregnant, my wife and I went to see the OB. We were excited for that first sonogram - an opportunity to hear our 12 week old's heartbeat and see his still-forming body. But something was awry. The nurse tech stalled as long as she could until the doctor came in to tell us that something might be wrong with our child. Yes, our child. 28 weeks short of term, but no less our child than today.
We were terrified.
I do not use that word lightly, Ben. We. Were. Terrified. Erin lost five pounds over the weekend as we waited to hear from the specialists and genetic counselors. A marker showed up on the sonogram - an indicator of potential serious birth defects. The possibilities were numerous and they were all scary. Would we have a child with Down's Syndrome? Would we have a child that had such serious birth defects that they would not ever see adulthood? It was all on the table. Through dozens of appointments and six terrifying months, Erin and I kept wondering if something would be wrong with Nolan.
One thing we never, ever considered was abortion. We are both pro-life in the absolute sense of the word. For us it is NOT about controlling a woman's body. It is not about restricting choice. It is about a precious gift - human life. A human soul is the only thing new in this world. As parents, we are co-creators with God of something new and precious - a human soul. It is an astounding privilege. So, no matter how scary or heart wrenching, we were going to do everything we could to meet our son. Even of he was born with holes in his heart like my cousin Maryann, or with serious birth defects like my friend Becky, or without a functioning brain above the stem like my cousin Jimmy who lived three months before mercifully passing away. Even if that were the case, he had a right to life.
As you know, Nolan only gave us a scare. He is now a five month old healthy, happy gift from God.
Something you may not know about us, Ben, is that in 2008 my wife had a miscarriage. I love my three sons, but I should have four. I did have four, if only for a brief few weeks. I don't know why, or what went wrong, but very early on in the pregnancy - at 6 weeks - we lost our baby. No, he would not have been "viable" at that point, but what the hell does that mean? That he couldn't have fended for himself? So what, neither can a 5 month old child. That doesn't make them less than a person, or not a life.
I cannot say that all who call themselves pro-life share the same reasons as me. I do not pretend that all pro-lifers understand the myriad of issues that would lead a woman to wish to end a pregnancy, nor do I pretend to know what being in a situation where you do not want or do not feel that you could support the life growing inside you must feel like. I do not, for a second, wish to minimize toes very real issues. But hey do not sway my conviction that every pregnancy is a life and every life is precious.
No doubt, there are some terrible messengers of what pro-life truly means. A truly pro-life message so often gets garbled and mangled and twisted around. With that in mind, I have a third story for you, and then I will move on.
Before I had even met my wife I had a profound experience of what it meant to be truly pro-life - and it has stayed with me even a decade later. Sitting one day in a public policy class in the Bellamy building at FSU - I can even remember the classroom - I had a gut check moment that I never expected. We were cycling through class debates on a series of hot button issues and the topic of the day happened to be abortion. I was not a presenter and the debate was typical and not very interesting. Two debaters took the "pro-life" side and two were pro-choice. Talking points were exchanged. No one really listened and no one was convinced of anything other than what they already believed... Until the very end of class and the audience participation portion.
A girl stood up and posed a question of the "pro-lifers". She asked them what their opinion was in the case of rape or incest. They stumbled through it, as most politicians do when asked the very same thing. She clearly had an agenda and both ended up agreeing that there should be exemptions to any anti-abortion laws in those cases. Her response was "I thought so." The way she said it made me perk up and pay attention. She was clearly building to something... And it seemed like the "pro-lifers" were about to be on the wrong end of a scolding. Then she turned to the class and asked any pro-lifers to raise their hands. I did, as did quite a few others. She then asked about the exceptions. She wanted to know who among us with our hands raised were still against abortion in the case of rape or incest. Assuming all would put their hands down, she began to call us all hypocrites. Until she noticed my hand still in the air. Even then, I was not anti-abortion. I was, and am, pro-life.
She stopped cold. She thanked me and then shared with the class that her mom had been raped and that she was every bit as valuable a life as them - and always had been, even in her mother's womb. She challenged all the so-called "pro-lifers" (pointedly excepting me) to think about what "life" meant to them and if they truly believed all of the justifications and arguments they had heard in class. She then challenged them to think critically about whether they were truly pro-life or just anti-choice.
To be honest, I was shaken by the whole thing. I will never forget it. And it really reinforces for me the logical inconsistency of being "pro-life" in some cases but not in all.
So, Ben, you see, I will not defend the hypocrites who are anti-choice and call themselves pro-life, but I would also appreciate not being lumped in with them and told that my beliefs are just a cover for controlling women and their bodies. I assure you they are not. I do not presume to speak for Mr. Akin, or Paul Ryan, or anyone else on the matter. I would hope that some in Blue world would understand that there really are true believers among us. True believers in the sacredness and inviolability of very human life, from conception to natural death. And that we are not trying to take away women's freedom. We are trying to ensure the most basic freedom and most elemental right of all - life.
I know much of this response was a little off topic, and I apologize if it was a distraction from what is quite an enjoyable experience for me - and I hope for our readers as well - of participating in this conversation. I just cannot look at Nolan and not speak up for him or for the 60 million aborted members of Generation X and the Millenials. So please forgive me, my friend.
To get back to the presidential race and finally answer your question... I have no idea if the Republicans can tell a story this week. I do not know if they have it in them. Surely it won't be the plucky son-of-a-governor makes good. I haven't seen any indication that there is a good narrative in the hopper. Maybe they will take a day off from the convention to provide relief services to whatever area is hit by the coming hurricane. Maybe they will tout entitlement reform as their way of ensuring the prosperity of future generations of Americans. Whatever it is, it better emerge soon. So far, their story just doesn't stand up.
If it were me, I would grab every twenty-something un- or under-employed college graduate I could find. I would parade around Paul Ryan's kids and Mitt's grandkids and say that this election was about them. I would make the argument they have been trying to make that the debt and deficit are unsustainable and will not fall on the backs of Mitt, Paul, Barack or anyone else currently in power. I would say that it will fall on these cute little heads, just as it is already restricting opportunity for the 18-29 year olds who still live with parents and struggle under the weight of crushing student loan debt. I would get as many Iraq and Afghanistan vets as I could find and talk about unemployment and the crappy job market for these men and women who had sacrificed so much for our country only to come back to scant opportunity. I would do everything I could to highlight a sluggish economy and scary budgetary future and dump it on the Obama Administration. I would turn Mitt Romney into a deeply concerned grandpa and Paul Ryan into a change agent "for the kids".
I have no idea if that could work or not, but if I was in the Romney camp, that is what I would do.
How about you? Any clues from @SpencerianBlue on what they are afraid the GOP will say or do to swing things their way?
All my best my friend,
# # # #
First of all, for a thread that started with a quote from a Disney movie, we've taken quite the turn, wouldn't you say?
Second, I'll admit it, Matt: you caught me on a terrible day with this one. Most everyone at work and at home is on edge because of Tropical Storm Isaac. Compounding that is the building tension of the upcoming convention.
Things are happening at work and at home. It's been a big week for me at work, even bigger for Duncan. We're both exhausted, so this response probably won't be everything it should be.
Third, apology not accepted.I do not forgive you. You simply cannot say you are standing up for your son in one sentence and ask forgiveness in the next. You can't even apologize at the outset for a "digression," nor will I accept your apology for being "a little off-topic."
This is a "topic" I take particularly seriously not only because it has been the chief driver behind much of the animosity in our politics for a generation, but because it is so profoundly personal for so many people. Myself included. Second of all, your personal experiences have clearly crafted your thinking regarding abortion and life. You shared this in a way that was brave, talked about how it informs your political view in a way that was even more brave, and that is a good and noble thing. Don't offer a half-baked apology for it.
It's not "off-topic," because I had -- perhaps with some carelessness -- talked about Congressman Akin in my last email, and his repugnant words regarding "legitimate rape" that almost everyone has condemned.
It is not "off-topic" because I posted just yesterday a piece about a candidate for Sheriff in New Hampshire who has threatened to use "deadly force" against abortion providers in order to... stand up for "life."
Look, Matt, your email is fine and good. It is appreciated. That said, you and I have differences on this issue, shaped by our own experiences.
My large frustration around this issue is not the question itself -- "when does life begin?" We're just going to disagree on that. You believe life begins at conception. I don't. This ought to be an honest philosophical difference two agreeable people can have in a country as diverse and free as America.
No, my frustration is that the societal mechanisms which normally drive politics and government have apparently failed us with regards to answering it in a larger context. How have we allowed this question to become one of such deep cynicism, divisive partisanship and cheap political shots?
Does life really begin at conception? Should abortion be legal? When does a fetus become a baby? Should a fetus be carried to term if it was conceived through rape? What about a fetus with no chance of being carried to term, but endangers the life of the mother?
The truth is, Matt, I don't know the answer to those or the many other tough questions like them. That's why I'm pro-choice. Because I really do believe the beginnings of the answer lies in the heart of the woman carrying the fetus. It lies, in some part, with the man with whom she conceived. It lies, in another small part, with the medical professionals guiding her. It lies in her heart, guided by her faith, her spirituality, her religion.
I've always believed that is what lies at the heart of "choice." And yes, I believe with respect to politics, almost no one has been as inarticulate in communicating -- hell, defending -- this than the Democratic Party. [I may nominate for Most Appalling Moment of this campaign season the Todd Akin-inspired fundraising email I got just the other day from the DCCC asking me to sign a pledge to remove Congressman Akin from the House Science and Technology Committee. Not to remove a man referring to "legitimate rape" from Congress altogether -- just the Science Committee. Who the fuck are these people?]
You shared some deeply personal stories, and for that I am grateful, Matt, not just to you but to you and Erin. After all, this is about you both -- your family -- as much as anything, and I appreciate your candor and honesty.
Something you may -- or may not -- know about us is that Duncan and I had a similar experience in 2008 as well. No, not "similar" -- exactly the same. Only it happened twice. Two miscarriages in one year.
2008. Not our year.
Perhaps you and I can find common ground and agree that in those tense hours in a sterile doctor's office, in the hard days and weeks of uncertainty that followed, and in those tragic, heartbreaking nights we had consoling our wives and ourselves in 2008, not once -- not even for an instant -- did we ever give a moment's thought to the public policy implications of the heartbreak happening to our families. I know I didn't. Todd Akin, murderous Sheriff candidates, and cowardly Republican policy platforms be damned.
I understand that you don't appreciate "being lumped in" with people who are anti-choice but refer to themselves as pro-life (which it is still not entirely clear to me that I did, but at this point, I'll just go with it). I also get that you don't speak for assholes like Akin, or Paul Ryan, or the hundreds, even thousands, of other Republican elected officials who call themselves pro-life and abuse the term. But I'm afraid I have some disheartening news, Matt: as a person who has described himself as pro-life, they speak for you. And if you don't like it, well that's just too damn bad.
You see, there is a price to pay for the politicization of, well, just about anything. And that price, in this instance, is that no, no one in Blue World understands that there are, to use your words, "true believers," that there is real, concrete belief in "the sacredness and inviolability of very human life, from conception to natural death." Sure, you and I can understand each other. I understand other friends who proudly describe themselves as pro-life, and, like you, would find the rude politicizing of a belief so sacred distasteful at best. On a larger, national scale, the days of common ground -- at least on this issue -- are long gone.
I am tempted to say "sorry," but another negative side-effect of the politicization of this and many other issues is that apologies are rendered virtually meaningless.
The term "pro-life" has been stolen, Matt. And it has been stolen by extremists who have gotten themselves elected to office. These extremists have done you and people like you a great disservice in the name of "trying to ensure the most basic freedom and most elemental right of all" becomes the law of the land. And it has intruded into that delicate, private place in time when a woman is in a dark room looking at an ultrasound monitor, talking with a doctor, looking at lines on a pink plastic stick.
Frankly, Matt, the conversation from a public policy perspective, and certainly from a political perspective, is broken, I fear beyond repair. It's why I rarely talk about it on this blog. Not because good people who have the conviction of choice aren't serving in public office. Those people -- the current lot behind the DCCC excepted, apparently -- exist and do serve in office.
No. The people we really need in public service are those who believe, as you do, that all life is sacred, but aren't afraid to punch back to those who have bastardized the term "pro-life." We need public servants not just smart enough, not just intellectually honest enough to seek the hard answers regarding life and public policy, but would push back without mercy against the Todd Akins of the country... and serve not until we resolved the (let's face it, unanswerable) question, but until we did the much harder work: restoring a civil dialogue once again in a nation that really deserves better.
Know anyone like that, Matt?
Your lead next week.
Surely there is some sort of political event happening you could explore...
# # # #
Welcome to Into the Echo Chamber, the weekly electronic conversation of the 2012 presidential campaign as viewed from two Twitter feeds. Matt Spence is monitoring the Twitterverse of the Romney Campaign, Republicans, and the "red" side of the aisle at @SpencerianRed. I am monitoring the tweets of the Obama Team, Democrats and the blue team using @SpencerianBlue. Our email-based back-and-forths are posted here on Thursdays.