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Monday, November 09, 2009

Broken Rearview Mirror

by digby

Nancy Keenan needs to find another job. Her appearance on Andrea Mitchell this morning was an embarrassment to the pro-choice community. Jesus H Christ:

Mitchell: Did you guys get blindsided? Did the speaker let you down? Everyone knew that abortion were burning issues, that they were potential obstacles. And here is happens in the middle of the night. It was a Friday night vote and then a final Saturday vote.

Keenan: You know, I think that the point here is that the votes are challenging? That the Stupak ban that came to the floor, again, is outrageous. Uhm, but we've got to take this fight to the Senate. I'm not going to look back. I'm going to say, "how do we stop this on the Senate side and how are we going to hold everybody accountable over there?"

NARAL needs to hold Nancy Keenan accountable for being completely ineffectual over and over again, both rhetorically as she was in that interview and strategically as she was in the house health care debate. No wonder she doesn't want to look back. The pro-choice groups all inexplicably put all their chips on the the mealy mouthed Capps Amendment which would have kept the Hyde Amendment status quo. Just as the party as a whole did with the public option, they came into the negotiations already having capitulated to their final position. They seem to have agreed in advance with the administration that abortion was a "distraction" that needed to be off the table.

And as happens so often that you can no longer simply call it an accident, the opponents had no problems creating a distraction and they put it on the table anyway. It's very hard for me to believe that somewhere there wasn't a discussion in which Keenan said that she could live with Stupak. Either that or she's just too lame to be running an advocacy organization. (But I'm sure the Obama administration gave her big, big props for being "pragmatic" regardless. The invitations are surely rolling in.)

(And, by the way, we might not have Joe Lieberman holding a gun to everyone's head on the public option either. As you'll recall, Keenen brilliantly endorsed him over Lamont.)

Update: If you want to read some awesomely silly commentary, check this out by Amy Sullivan. Apparently, the problem was that the Democratic leadership wasn't properly respectful of the forced pregnancy faction and if they had just capitulated earlier, Stupak wouldn't have come in in the final hour demanding even more. She still believes that these "pro-life" zealots are operating in good faith, just trying to find some common ground. It's so cute.

Update II: Just in case anyone doesn't understand or believe me when I said this is all a matter of making sure the liberals pay for pushing through a public option, David Shuster spells it out:

... the thing that Harry Reid has to say to his caucus, he may have to say "look, we may have to follow the House in order to get the centrists on board. We may have to allow this provision that strips federal funding from abortion." That may be the bitter pill that Democrats have to take in order to get the overall bill through. It's part of the whole horse trading that Harry Reid is doing with the centrists.

He is saying, ok look, we know that you don't like the public option, but if we give you, for example, new restrictions on abortions, will you then, at least, follow what the House did and allow a straight up or down vote?"

So restricting women's fundamental rights is a horse trade.But why should it be that instead of something else? Are all of these "centrists" anti-choice? (I don't think so.) They could, after all, give them an airport or an aircraft carrier instead. Maybe offer up a little deregulation on some special interest in their district. Why would an issue like this assuage them en masse?

Unless what you really want to do is show everyone that liberals are not in charge and that they have to feel (even more) pain, real pain, before they get their way. There is no reason other than political domination to demand this particular issue as the bargaining chip: it is an object lesson to liberals, particularly women, for getting too uppity.