Thursday, February 09, 2012


ABC News:

Return of the Culture Wars: Can Mitt Romney Win Conservative Backing?

The resurgence of social and cultural issues in voters' minds poses new challenges for GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney as he reels from surprising losses Tuesday to conservative favorite Rick Santorum.

The economy remains the No. 1 issue of concern for a majority of Americans. But the recent hoopla surrounding the Obama administration's support of contraceptives, the court ruling against California's same-sex marriage ban and heated debate about abortion access has created a perfect storm that has pushed these seemingly dormant issues to the surface....

Romney, meanwhile, has struggled to convince the Republican base of his conservative credentials. Most recently, he came under fire for allowing "abortion pills" as governor of Massachusetts. In 2005, Romney vetoed a law that required all Massachusetts hospitals, including those owned by religious groups, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims, but it was overridden by the state legislature....

First of all, I question the premise that there's been a "resurgence" of these issues "in voters' minds" -- in Republican voters' minds, maybe, but if so, that's only because the Republican attack machine forced these issues onto the agenda by making lots of noise about them (contraception) or stirring up trouble where it didn't exist (Planned Parenthood).

And what a genius thing to do: The Republicans had Romney, who a mere month ago was viewed by a significant majority of Republicans as an acceptable nominee and who at the same time was showing up in polls of the overall population as the most electable running against Obama, and -- instead of continuing to stress arguments that played to his strengths -- decided to gin up culture-war controversies in a way that inspires GOP base voters to reject Romney and vote for much more beatable candidates, like Santorum.

Republican message-mongers did this because they can't walk away from anything that seems like a promising wedge issue -- even if, as in this case, the short-term Democrat-bashing gain comes with a potential serious loss at the ballot box for their party in November.

I actually think, in the short term, the righties are going to win the contraception war -- they've now made so much noise about this that low-information voters probably think Obama did something wrong, even though they can't exactly tell you what it is. He'll have to compromise or accept some GOP restraint. But meanwhile the right has stirred up the culture warriors just when they're ready to rally around an extremely weak presidential candidate. Good one, GOP.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)


Tom Hilton said...

Yeah, the GOP instinct for self-preservation really seems to have deserted them.

I actually think, in the short term, the righties are going to win the contraception war...

I'm not so sure, partly because taking the focus off abortion and putting it on contraception is a big winner for the Democrats, and partly because the bishops are massively overreaching (they're now saying it isn't enough to excempt religious institutions; any contraceptive requirement violates the religious liberty of employers who happen to be Catholic).

JoyousMN said...

I don't know steve. It seems crazy to me that the republicans can win this one. Now that they have turned it into an argument about contraception I really think that women across the country will begin to see this battle in a different light. When it was abortion it's easy to divide people, but almost every woman supports contraception.

Steve M. said...

Democrats in Congress are already abandoning Obama. The 'pubs are winning already.

I've seen too many of these ginned-up faux outrages not to know how they end. When Republicans flood the zone the way they have on this one, they always win.

c u n d gulag said...


That's all:
Just, OY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BH said...

"Democrats in Congress are already abandoning Obama."

And had O gone the other way on the issue, we'd be reading about other Democrats in Congress (and out of it) denouncing his betrayal of women and demanding a primary challenger.

Hell of a line of work he picked.

JoyousMN said...

Steve, you may be right in the end, I'm not calling it over yet. I keep thinking about Terry Schievo, and how the press and everyone thought it was a terrible issue for the Dems.

Steve M. said...

I've been thinking about Terry Schiavo too. I hope you're right about the comparison.

JoyousMN said...

I can't know how this issue plays to men, because I'm not a man. But speaking as a woman, I cannot believe that anyone would talk publicly about taking away birth control. I keep thinking that women are going to speak up louder and louder just as we did with the Komen issue.

Maybe we won't. Maybe it won't be enough even if we do. But I have to think that there is going to be a huge backlash.

I certainly hope so I guess we'll all find out.

c u n d gulag said...

EVERY issue the Democrats ever take is a terrible one, according to the MSM.

Cereal said...

I don't think you grasp the strategic terms that matter for wingnuts.

Most of them care only about fighting culture war issues now, tomorrow, all the time. It doesn't matter if they lose - for some it's the short-term profit "I got mine so to hell with the rest of the planet" mentality. For others its the (related) "end times are nearin' so gotta scorch that earth and many punch hippies as ah cayn cause Jeezus could like to cum back tomorrah."

Some of them, the Rove-Atwater policy maven types, the egghead ones who work at the Heritage Foundation and so on, are constantly concerned with driving policy to the right in the long term. But remember it's the long term. And remember that their message works best when they are not in power. The oppressed victim card is a bit dicey, even for their moron base, when they run everything; people are somewhat more likely to notice that they suck at (have no interest in) governing, and that when we hand them the keys, America gets wrecked.

So this work very well - long term strategy is to use cultural resentment and hatred wedge issues to move everything rightward over time, to make any remotely liberal policy seem more and more anti-Amurcan comminizuhm, and to delegitimise every democratic politician sand liberal American. The policy wonks and idiot base warrior link up very well to go berzerk over every new perceived outrage. If it costs them an election, that's fine. Winning elections is only one arm of their plan.

Actually if it costs them this election, it's a win - this is not one they will do well to win. Better another four years in the wilderness howling about KenyanMuslimSocialismWarOnKrissmas bullshit than to retake the reins now when people still haver a bit of memory about how bad they fucked up last time.

JoyousMN said...

Oh hell Cereal, thanks for that uplifting note.

Joking. I think you're right, I just wish there was a way to change it.

Steve, WaPo is reporting, anonymously of course, that Obama will announce an "accommodation" to religious groups, so looks like you were right.

God Dammit. When will the fking Democrats learn that you can't accommodate these assholes; accommodation just encourages them.