Rounding up coverage of Biden reaction last week, I quoted former Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson, who thought that Obama going the old white political insider route “gives an opening to the McCain campaign to pick a woman or make an out-of-the-box selection.” Well, today the McCain campaign took that opening and charged through it:
(h/t Petulant for the vid)
Now, before you get all ZOMG glass ceiling shattered!!1 at the prospect of a female veep (which begs the question: why didn’t McCain vet Senator Clinton, hmm? No. Re. Spect.) keep in mind that Palin is, by and large, a Trojan hammer, as NARAL president Nancy Keenan outlines in the following press release:
Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said that Sen. John McCain’s selection today of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate is further evidence that a McCain presidency will be just another four years of the same old Bush-style anti-choice policies. Just like McCain, Palin opposes a woman’s right to choose. Palin has also stated her opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest.
“John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate proves just how rigid and extreme his administration would be when it comes to a woman’s right to choose,” Keenan said. “For 25 years, McCain has opposed a woman’s right to choose, and we know that he will continue to push anti-choice policies in the White House. McCain’s pick of anti-choice Sarah Palin is further evidence that his White House will be just another four years of Bush-style policies. Any remaining doubts about McCain’s extreme anti-choice position should be put to rest when voters learn about the combined anti-choice records of Sarah Palin and John McCain.”
Palin, a member of the anti-choice group Feminists for Life, said during her campaign for governor that she is opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. [Juneau Empire, “Abortion Draws Clear Divide in State Races,” accessed 8/29/08 and Anchorage Daily News, “Governor’s Race: Top contenders meet one last time to debate,” 11/03/06.]
“Americans are tired of the kind of divisive anti-choice policies that Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin have pledged to continue to support. The contrast between pro-choice Sen. Obama and anti-choice Sen. McCain is clear. Voters are looking for a leader who respects women’s freedom and privacy. Barack Obama is that leader.”
Sen. McCain’s selection of Palin as his vice-presidential running mate is especially troublesome for the unique audience of women voters NARAL Pro-Choice America is targeting: Independent and Republican pro-choice women in suburban and exurban swing districts. These women play a pivotal role in the presidential election. Recent polling confirms how, once these voters know McCain’s extreme opposition to a woman’s right to choose and family planning, they will switch parties to support Sen. Barack Obama.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, which tracks all choice-related votes in Congress and ranks all 50 states on the status of women’s reproductive rights, classifies Sarah Palin as anti-choice.
This 2005 Nerve article by Lynn Harris gives some background on Feminists for Life:
According to its tastefully designed website, FFL — describing itself as a “nonsectarian, nonpartisan, grassroots organization … shaped by the core feminist values of justice, nondiscrimination, and nonviolence” — “recognizes that abortion is a reflection that our society has failed to meet the needs of women.” The goal of the group: “systematically eliminating the root causes that drive women to abortion — primarily lack of practical resources and support — through holistic, woman-centered solutions.”
Well, that’s refreshing. No railing against the ladies for making selfish choices, no little pictures of tiny feet. A commitment to non-violence, a focus on the “root causes” — they use the word ” holistic,” for God’s sake. It all sounds entirely reasonable, doesn’t it?
Try radical. The group believes abortion is an act of violence that is unacceptable under any circumstances. Unacceptable under any circumstances. Including rape, incest, major fetal defects, and danger to the mother’s life. This position — “holistic solutions” aside — puts [FFL] to the right of their sister organization, Attila the Hun for Life.
Not only that, but FFL is sketchy about birth control. “Preconception issues, including abstinence and contraception, are outside of our mission,” reads their website. “Some FFL members and supporters support the use of non-abortifacient contraception while
others oppose contraception for a variety of reasons.” So it’s not clear precisely how FFL would go about reducing unwanted pregnancies. Or, for that matter, rape and incest.
Katha Pollitt disputes FFL’s appropriation of the ‘feminist’ moniker:
It is indeed feminist to say no woman should have to abort a wanted child to stay in school or have a career–FFL’s line is thus an advance on the more typical antichoice position, which is that women have abortions to go to Europe or fit into their prom dress. You can see why their upbeat, rebellious slogans–“refuse to choose,” “question abortion,” “women deserve better”–appeal to students. (But what do those students think when they find that the postabortion resources links are all to Christian groups and that FFL’s sunny pregnancy-assistance advice includes going on food stamps or welfare?) Exposing the constraints on women’s choices, however, is only one side of feminism. The other is acknowledging women as moral agents, trusting women to decide what is best for themselves. For FFL there’s only one right decision: Have that baby. And since women’s moral judgment cannot be trusted, abortion must be outlawed, whatever the consequences for women’s lives and health–for rape victims and 12-year-olds and 50-year-olds, women carrying Tay-Sachs fetuses and women at risk of heart attack or stroke, women who have all the children they can handle and women who don’t want children at all. FFL argues that abortion harms women–that’s why it clings to the outdated cancer claims. But it would oppose abortion just as strongly if it prevented breast cancer, filled every woman’s heart with joy, lowered the national deficit and found Jimmy Hoffa. That’s because they aren’t really feminists–a feminist could not force another woman to bear a child, any more than she could turn a pregnant teenager out into a snowstorm. They are fetalists.
All of which makes me wonder if, by picking Palin as his running mate, McCain is actually making a play for pro-life Evangelicals and Catholics, rather than disaffected Clinton voters. By tapping a socially conservative abortion foe, the McCain campaign may be attempting to once again make the Christian Right vote a factor in November, after many believed religious conservatives didn’t trust McCain enough to wholeheartedly support him. David Waters of WapO’s On Faith points to a recent CBSNews.com interview with Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission:
CBSNews.com: Who’s on the list of people mentioned for VP that you think would most excite Southern Baptists and other members of the conservative faith community?
Richard Land: Probably Governor Palin of Alaska, because she’s a person of strong faith. She just had her fifth child, a Downs Syndrome child. And there’s a wonderful quote that she gave about her baby, and the fact that she would never, ever consider having an abortion just because her child had Downs Syndrome. She’s strongly pro-life.
She’s a virtual lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. She would ring so many bells. And I just think it would help with independents because she’s a woman. She’s a reform Governor. I think that, from what I hear, that would be the choice that would probably ring the most bells… .
And, true to Land’s prediction, (church) bells are ringing in exultation, as noted by Waters:
Evangelical leaders were elated Friday.
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council:
“Sarah Palin clearly addresses the issues so many conservatives are concerned about. It balances out the ticket,” said Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council. “She’s also really a checkmate for the Democratic Party because folks who were looking to make history for Barack Obama can make history by voting for John McCain in seeing the first woman elected to the vice-presidency. It was a very strategic move by John McCain.”
Pro-life advocates and website were buzzing Friday about McCain’s choice.
“Sarah Palin is the whole package. There couldn’t be a better vice presidential pick,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an influential pro-life PAC. “By choosing the boldly pro-life Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain has taken his stand as the one true, authentic pro-life ticket.”
“[T]he one true, authentic pro-life ticket.” I have a feeling McCain’s [deliberately ambiguous] latter day pro-life branding effort has completely answered any lingering doubts conservative Christian voters may have held regarding his commitment to key socon issues. Instead of an ‘out of the box’ decision, choosing Palin as his VP nominee amounts to more of the same from John McCain: “a classic, Rovian appease-the-base choice.”