What do you do when your opponent picks a radically anti-choice vice presidential candidate? Well, if you’re a normal human being with an ounce of political sense, you remember that most Americans are pro-choice, and you react accordingly.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to a normal human being with at least an ounce of political sense. His name is Barack Obama.
Barack Obama has launched a broadside against John McCain’s opposition to abortion rights and moved one of the most divisive issues in modern American politics to the airwaves on a large scale for the first time in this presidential campaign.
Obama’s new radio ad, airing widely in at least seven swing states, tells voters McCain “will make abortion illegal.” It’s airing as McCain courts female voters with the addition of the staunchly anti-abortion governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to his ticket.
Wait — you mean to say that women might be more concerned about retaining control of their own uteri than whether or not Sarah Palin also has a uterus? Do tell!
Democrats had, until now, sought to appeal to women primarily on economic issues such as health care and workplace discrimination; abortion rights were hardly mentioned at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last week. But women’s rights groups have been urging Obama to attack McCain on the issue, pointing to polling showing that some women who support McCain think he supports abortion rights. In fact, the Arizona senator has long supported a ban on abortions, with exceptions for victims of rape and incest, and for pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother. Palin has an even firmer anti-abortion stance: She would require rape and incest victims to carry their pregnancies to term.
“Let me tell you: If Roe vs. Wade is overturned, the lives and health of women will be put at risk. That’s why this election is so important,” says the nurse-practitioner who narrates Obama’s ad. “John McCain’s out of touch with women today. McCain wants to take away our right to choose. That’s what women need to understand. That’s how high the stakes are.”
An announcer then claims that “as president, John McCain will make abortion illegal,” before playing an exchange on “Meet the Press” in which McCain told moderator Tim Russert that he favors “a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions.”
Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. Standing up for abortion rights — really standing up for them, not just hinting at that stance — is an electoral winner, especially given that many of McCain’s female supporters do indeed think he’s a pro-choicer. His selection of Palin should put that to rest, but ads focusing on it should do so even more.
It’s pretty simple: there is a big Will Saletan bloc of people who think abortion is “icky,” and that we should decry it as such — but who still want the option to get one for themselves or a loved one if need be. Indeed, even the McCain-Palin ticket, which features the most radical anti-choice candidate to stand for election in the post-Roe era, took pains to note that the candidate in question’s pregnant family member chose to continue her pregnancy.
People want that choice, and not even McCain and Palin can deny it. They want that choice for their daughters, their lovers, themselves. They may not always feel unconflicted about abortion — and being pro-choice doesn’t mean they have to — but when the chips are down, they want abortion to remain legal.
Palin does not want it to be legal, full stop. McCain — I honestly don’t think he cares one way or another, which is almost worse — he’s more than willing to trade women’s liberty in to make nice with the powers that be in the GOP. At least Palin’s nuttiness is principled.
Barack Obama is pro-choice, and while he’s not perfect on the issue, he is the most pro-choice candidate to helm a national ticket in the post-Roe era — yes, more than Bill Clinton. Being pro-choice puts him in the company of most of his fellow Americans, and saying so — well, it’s about time he said so, in no uncertain terms. More, please.