Obama wanted to take credit for opposing the bellicose Kyl-Lieberman bill — a vote he ducked. He then said he ducked the MoveOn vote because it was political theatrics — even though he showed up and voted "yea" on the politically theatrical Barbara Boxer bill that very morning. Now he wants us to think he’s pro-choice because he ducked yet again and voted "present" on important abortion legislation, ostensibly to "give cover" to Democrats in vulnerable districts who couldn’t afford to vote "yea" themselves.
Oh please. Would this pass muster if Obama had voted "present" on important civil rights legislation to give cover to Democrats who lived in districts with lots of bigots? Somehow I don’t think so.
Obama’s rationale for voting ‘present’, lacking plausibility, is probably more simple:
Obama’s friend Link offered another reason for the strategy: to protect those with plans for higher office. A "present" vote helped "if you have aspirations of doing something else in politics," Link said, "and I think [Obama] looked at it in that regard."
It’s single-issue politics and not particularly helpful to a big tent strategy, but among democratic primary & caucus voters, particularly women, it seems like a pretty big opening for groups like NOW and Emily’s List to go after Obama.
I seriously doubt it. Illinois Planned Parenthood is standing behind this stupid "present" strategy like it was some kind of brilliant tactical move. But then again, Planned Parenthood national told their membership to thank Joe Lieberman for his Alito vote. This smells a lot like NARAL endorsing the "fetal pain" torpedo that right-to-lifers were trying to launch into the abortion debate in order to give cover to Democrats who didn’t want to take a side on a potentially divisive vote. It’s a chickenshit move to give cover to people who don’t want to take a stand, and the fact that pro-choice organizations engage in this kind of ass-covering rather than defending the rights they’re given big money by their membership to uphold is largely why people think their opinion on these things is worth squat these days.
The institutional pro-choice groups may line up based on who is supporting who, but I don’t expect any courageous stands on principle here.
It ain’t the moral trump card it used to be.