It is absolutely amazing to me that the NY Times would print such apostasy as advocating the Democrats take a softer tone on abortion and that the last election was lost on the abortion issue:
Normally I would say that the left would never take this advice, to soften their tone and stop demonizing their opponent would be ridiculous to them since they view pro-life voters as extremists. How can you soften your tone against extremists? To soften their tone would be to give a foothold in their party to those trying to take away something that they've fought so hard to achieve. To soften their tone would be perceived as caving and you can never do that in the Democrat party. But Clinton demonstrated in 2005 that she understood this issue and was trying early to neutralize it. The problem for her is that she has two politicians running to her left and that is drawing her further left:
Over 18 months, I traveled to 20 states listening to women of all ages, races, tax brackets and points of view speak at length on the issues they care about heading into ’08. They convinced me that the conventional wisdom was wrong about the last presidential contest, that Democrats did not lose support among women because “security moms” saw President Bush as the better protector against terrorism. What first-time defectors mentioned most often was abortion.
Why would that be, given that Roe v. Wade was decided almost 35 years ago? Opponents of abortion rights saw 2004 as the chance of a lifetime to overturn Roe, with a movement favorite already in the Oval Office and several spots on the Supreme Court likely to open up. A handful of Catholic bishops spoke out more plainly than in any previous election season and moved the Catholic swing vote that Al Gore had won in 2000 to Mr. Bush.
The standard response from Democratic leaders has been that anyone lost to them over this issue is not coming back — and that regrettable as that might be, there is nothing to be done. But that is not what I heard from these voters.
Many of them, Catholic women in particular, are liberal, deep-in-their-heart Democrats who support social spending, who opposed the war from the start and who cross their arms over their chests reflexively when they say the word “Republican.” Some could fairly be described as desperate to find a way home. And if the party they’d prefer doesn’t send a car for them, with a really polite driver, it will have only itself to blame.
What would it take to win them back? Respect, for starters — and not only on the night of the candidate forum on faith. As it turns out, you cannot call people extremists and expect them to vote for you. But real respect would require an understanding that what supporters of abortion rights genuinely see as a hard-earned freedom, opponents genuinely see as a self-inflicted wound and — though I can feel some of you tensing as you read this — a human rights issue comparable to slavery.
Again and again, these voters said Democrats are too unwilling to tolerate dissent on abortion. It is a point of orthodoxy no more open to debate within the party than the ordination of women is in Rome.
Democratic Party leaders should also stop pushing the perception that Republicans are natural defenders of the faithful. For years, they have done just that by tirelessly portraying our current president as this committed — indeed, obsessed — pro-lifer who would stop at nothing to see Roe overturned. Karl Rove couldn’t have said it better himself; this was better advertising than hard money could buy.
Today, in a similarly oblivious way, the leading Democratic presidential contenders are condemning the Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold a ban on the procedure known as partial-birth abortion. An overwhelming majority of Americans, polls show, support a ban. Legal scholars have underscored the narrowness of the ruling in the partial-birth case, Gonzales v. Carhart, which does not even outlaw all late-term abortions. Yet the leading Democratic candidates, all of whom are lawyers, choose to overstate its impact.
Hillary Clinton called the decision “a dramatic departure from four decades of Supreme Court rulings that ... recognized the importance of women’s health.” Barack Obama echoed that it “dramatically departs from previous precedents safeguarding the health of pregnant women.” Though John Edwards was one of only two United States senators who did not cast a vote on the bill in 2003, he, too, found the decision to uphold that law “ill-considered and sweeping,” and “a stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election.”
Now, she may return to a softer tone in the general but I don't expect her to do so in the primary because Obama and Edwards would be all over it if she did since a softening would be considered heterodoxy to the feminists.
I suspect that the Democrats won't listen to this sound advice and will continue to paint the Republicans as extremists and that will continue to be good advertising for us among their base (that was a pretty brilliant analysis by the author of the article :-) because they have no choice but to call our candidate extremist since the Supreme Court is at stake. They have to make sure a pro-life candidate isn't elected because they know that one more judge would mean the end of Roe V. Wade.
So, given this problem with the Democrats and their base, why would we take the issue off the table by giving the Democrats the gift of a pro-choice Republican?
Even in the real world, a pro-choice Republican nominee would be a gift to the Democrats, because the Republican Party wins over so many swing voters on abortion alone. Which is why Fred Thompson, who is against abortion rights, is getting so much grateful attention from his party now. And why, despite wide opposition to the war in Iraq, Democrats must still win back such voters to take the White House next year.Not only would it neutralize our strength among pro-life Democrats but it would push our pro-life Republicans into voting for third-party candidates. This doesn't seem like a strategic move when you're trying to stop a Clinton from taking over the White House again. We would be stupid to hand Clinton our issue on a sliver platter because she would certainly run to the right of our candidate on it in the general and you know the MSM would help her do it.