Politics

09.06.12

God and Jerusalem and "Rare"

I feel I should acknowledge the one dropped ball so far at this convention, that embarrassing platform battle yesterday, plus a related question raised by Margaret Carlson.

First, I think it's stupid that the platform had no mentions of God. They're trying to win elections in a country called the United States of America. In that country, most people believe in God. So mention God. Just say something anodyne like God has smiled on our great country or something. It turns out the mention they added is snuck in through the side door. Check it out:

"We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."

Why in the world should that be controversial? Sheesh. The party is, in fact, a bit overrun by political correctness. If they keep The Big Guy in the platform, one of these somebody is going to demand that it also include Gaia.

On Jerusalem, Laura Rozen of Al-Monitor has the back story here. She has Democratic sources telling her that a) they decided early on that the foreign-policy sections of the platform would reflect accomplishments more than goals and b) AIPAC officials were shown the no-Jerusalem language a while ago and no one objected. AIPAC appears to dispute this, but Rozen has several sources saying it.

Apparently on both of these points, Obama learned of the errors yesterday and agreed that the platform should be corrected on both points. Perhaps he'll address them tonight, or at least the Jerusalem one, which I guess they're more worried about with regard to Jewish donors. But this Jerusalem business is bullshit anyway, as everyone secretly knows. It's a final status issue, and words in American party platforms mean nothing, and if you don't believe me, go ask George W. Bush why he had eight years to move the embassy and didn't.

Finally, it seems Margaret Carlson noted on air somewhere yesterday that the Clintonian "safe, legal, and rare" language on abortion, dating to 1992, is not in this year's platform, as it was not in 2008. She thinks this is a mistake, and I agree with her. I don't think it makes that much difference in the end, but my view is that the pro-choice movement has made its share of rhetorical errors that have probably (I have no data, this is just my hunch) contributed to the movement's woes.

I take my cues here from Newsweek colleague Sarah Blustain, who was working for me at The American Prospect in 2004 when she (feminist, strongly pro-choice) wrote this powerful essay and these words right after John Kerry lost:

To [my] generation, the “choice” of a legal abortion is no longer something to celebrate. It is a decision made in crisis, and it is never one made happily. Have you ever talked to a woman who has had an abortion? Even a married, intentionally pregnant woman who has had a “D and C” for a dying or dead embryo? A college student whose birth control failed? I promise you, such a woman does not talk about exercising the “right to choose.” You may accuse her -- and me -- of taking such rights for granted, and maybe you'd be right. But mainly she will tell you how sad she is, how she wished she hadn't had to make that “choice,” how unpleasant the procedure was. She is more likely depressed than defiant.

That's why liberalism's vocabulary of “rights” when it comes to abortion rings a little hollow. It's constitutional, intellectual -- and not nuanced enough to absorb the emotional or even legal complexity.

It's a great piece, and you should read it. In sum I don't think these errors will amount to much.