Charlotte Observations

by Stephen H. Miller on September 5, 2012

updated from bottom

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto offered this observation on night one:

As for the social issues, the Democrats seem to sense—and ample polling data confirm—that public opinion is moving in their direction on same-sex marriage and other gay-rights questions but not on abortion. That makes sense in light of expanding knowledge. As gays have become more visible, nongays have increasingly come to see them as decent and unthreatening. As unborn children have become more visible through technologies like ultrasound, people have increasingly come to see abortion as troubling if not barbaric.

But in Charlotte, gay legal equality (in which the Democrats are far superior to the Republicans, yes, yes, yes) is joined at the hip not just to taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, but to perpetuating the government worker unions’ stranglehold over American taxpayers, demagoging entitlement reform, and all the other planks of the progressive left’s agenda.

More. Washington Examiner columnist Timothy Carney writes:

The Democratic platform turns abortion into an entitlement by demanding a right to an abortion “regardless of ability to pay.” And it seems to reject any restrictions on abortion—such as parental notification rules or limitations on aborting a viable baby nine months into a pregnancy—with the line, “We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right” to an abortion.

Furthermore. Obama’s acceptance speech:

“We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems – any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.”

A good sentiment, but Obama has done plenty of scapegoating himself (those greedy “millionaires and billionaires” for starters).

Still more. David Boaz blogs that when Obama says don’t blame government, or immigrants, or gays for our problems, that’s a category error. Government isn’t a group of people, it’s an institution of force.

More still. From Matt Welch at reason.com:

The Democrats are selling themselves in 2012 as the party that simply cares more. They feel your pain…. Simply by virtue of being more empathetic, they will produce better policies and outcomes, particularly those that affect the identity groups within the Democratic coalition: women, Hispanics, blacks, the gay and lesbian community….

Because Democrats care more about education, education outcomes will be better; [but] there was precious little discussion of policy toward those ends….

Democrats might yet win by exploiting the Caring Gap. Certainly having the Republican Party to compete against helps. But for those of us voters who want government to be neither mom nor dad, and who like to keep our religious experiences separate from the exertion of public policy, a depressing reality has been reinforced this week: The two major parties are incapable of treating you like an adult. Meanwhile, they are demanding–and sometimes receiving–a devotion that borders on the unhealthy.

{ 18 comments }

Tom Scharbach September 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm

But in Charlotte, gay legal equality (in which the Democrats are far superior to the Republicans, yes, yes, yes) is joined at the hip not just to taxpayer-funded abortion on demand …

I think you are overstating “abortion on demand”, but that is, of course, a Republican talking point and to be expected on this blog.

But what’s the big deal? The polls show that most Americans are queasy about abortion. I think that’s a good thing. People should have moral reservations about abortion.

But can you imagine anything worse than having the government make that moral decision for people?

Democrats stand for the proposition that abortion is a personal moral decision, a decision that should be made by the man and woman involved, and that the government should not be involved. I agree.

But what is the point you are trying to make, Stephen? It can’t be, at this time and place, that it would be a good thing if Republicans supported “equal means equal”? We all agree with that point.

And you certainly can’t be arguing that it is a bad thing that years of work by those of us who are Democrats have brought our party around on this issue. I think we all agree that it is good that Democrats are on record for “equal means equal” in the national and a majority of state platforms.

I don’t understand the point you are trying to make. It isn’t as if “equal means equal” is a zero-sum game, limited somehow by the fact the Democrats increasingly support it. Republicans should support it, too, and would if the Republican Party was true to its conservative principles.

That’s true, incidentally, of abortion, too. The Republican position that the government should control the abortion decision is at odds with the the idea that individuals should govern their own lives.

another steve September 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I think you are overstating “abortion on demand”, but that is, of course, a Republican talking point and to be expected on this blog.

So, Republicans get tarred (appropriately) for the excesses of their platform, but Democrats get a break from theirs. Did you read the abortion language and listen to the speeches, or do words have any meaning for you?

Tom Scharbach September 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Here’s the relevant language from the Democratic platform:

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.

If read the second sentence in context, it is clear that the words “that right” refer to the right identified by Roe v. Wade. The right was unlimited only during the first trimester. After viability, the government has a legitimate interest to defend, according to Roe. That is hardly an “excess”.

I don’t think that a fair reading of the platform supports the statement Stephen uses to make his point (“The Democratic platform turns abortion into an entitlement by demanding a right to an abortion “regardless of ability to pay.” And it seems to reject any restrictions on abortion—such as parental notification rules or limitations on aborting a viable baby nine months into a pregnancy—with the line, “We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right” to an abortion.

Nor, in my opinion, does support for Roe v. Wade constitute a call for “abortion on demand”, because that isn’t what Roe ruled.

But you can read it any way you want.

Houndentenor September 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm

There is no federal funding for abortion and hasn’t been for a very long time. But what always strikes me as odd on the abortion issue is that the same folks that want all abortions to be illegal also fight against birth control and sex education. The result of ignorance about reproduction can only lead to more unplanned, unwanted pregnancies. Anyone who wanted to decrease the number of abortions, which pretty much everyone wants to do, would be for better education and access to contraceptives.

another steve September 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm

The whole debate over federal funding for Planned Parenthood is because PP is the largest abortion provider in the nation. Plus, Obamacare is a new pathway for abortion funding.

Doug September 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm

The GOP:

No to gays in the military
No to marriage equality
No to contraception
No to all abortions
No to most immigration
No to climate change

Yes to war
Yes to tax cuts for the wealthy

Walker September 5, 2012 at 11:55 pm

“Yes to war.”

To be fair, Obama has kept Bush’s wars going and started a couple more — Libya and Central Africa. And keep an eye on Syria.

Roy M September 8, 2012 at 12:06 am

Where to begin? Obama ENDED Bush’s war in Iraq and is committing to end Bush’s other war in Afghanistan in 2014. He also kept the US out of Libya’s civil war, in spite of neocons screaming for our involvement. Ditto Syria. And I have no idea what you’re talking about re “Central Africa”. To my knowledge, we have not initiated a war in that region. Care to be a bit more specific?

JohnInCA September 12, 2012 at 12:16 am

Not to mention the dramatic expansion of the UAV programs. More drones, fewer American coffins.

Doug September 6, 2012 at 1:12 am

How many of Obama’s wars have/will last for over a decade and cost over $1 trillion dollars?

Jorge September 6, 2012 at 1:37 am

I think you are overstating “abortion on demand”, but that is, of course, a Republican talking point and to be expected on this blog.

There is no federal funding for abortion and hasn’t been for a very long time.

Tell that to some of Wednesday night’s speakers.

I realize abortion is supposed to be this great moral quandry–I’m not that young that I don’t remember that there used to actually be an ethical debate about it–but every time I see someone say “men shouldn’t be controling women’s reproductive rights and what they do with their bodies!”, I have to ask, what about murder? What about the possibility that we are talking about human life? The complete failure to even acknowledge this reeks of a certain selfishness that better befits an outdated welfare mentality than a civil rights platform.

Houndentenor September 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm

And I’ll say it again. If the right really wanted to reduce the number of abortions, they’d be FOR good sex education. The ignorance of the typical American about reproduction is shocking. And it’s not accidental.

Tom Scharbach September 6, 2012 at 8:23 am

I’m not that young that I don’t remember that there used to actually be an ethical debate about it …

It isn’t as if Americans don’t talk about abortion in depth and meaningfully amongst themselves. I think that you and I just had a short ethical discussion (not so much a debate, but a discussion about the morality of abortion) in the “Conservatives vs. Libertarians” thread.

But you have to keep in mind that (1) a discussion about the morality of abortion and (2) a discussion about the extent to which civil law should determine when, whether and under what circumstances a woman should be permitted to obtain an abortion (that is to say, when and whether the government should make the moral decision for an individual) are two different discussions.

The two discussions are connected, but they are not the same discussion.

It is possible for a person to believe, as I do, abortion is morally objectionable in most cases but also believe, as I do, that the abortion decision should be left to the mother and father.

It is also possible to believe, as you do (“I think abortion is in most cases moral … but that the final authority on the matter should be the community.“), that abortion is not morally objectionable in most cases but also believe that the abortion decision should not be left to the father and the mother, but be determined by the government (“community” as you put it).

Needless to say, there is a wide range of other possible positions on the two questions.

But it really gets down to, for the purposes of public policy, the question of when, whether and under what circumstances we should extend government power into the lives of individuals and permit the government to make that decision for individuals.

That is what the public policy debate is about. Democrats stand for the proposition that abortion is a personal moral decision, a decision that should be made by the man and woman involved, and that the government should not be involved. Libertarians take the same position. Republicans (at least if the platform is to be taken seriously) take the opposite view.

Mark F. September 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm

I take the position that abortion (at all stages of pregnancy) should not be a governmental issue. Whether or not it is a moral issue is another matter. Nonetheless, a majority of the population does support some legal restrictions on abortion.

Tom Scharbach September 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm

David Boaz blogs that when Obama says don’t blame government, or immigrants, or gays for our problems, that’s a category error. Government isn’t a group of people, it’s an institution of force.

Obama didn’t say “government, or immigrants, or gays …” in a syntax that would suggest that that government was a group.

Here’s what Obama said: “We don’t think the government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that the government is the source of all our problems, any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.

Note the grammar — “any more than” between government, on the one hand, and the various groups that the Republicans have been scapegoating this election cycle, on the other. That distinguishes “government” from “groups”. Boaz is not paying attention to the English language.

Is this still August, the silly season? Reading all the updates, I’m beginning to wonder.

another steve September 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Tom, you are either being willfully duplicitous or you are so partisan you can’t see how silly your remarks are. Clearly, Obama was saying government is no more the source of our problems than are gays, immigrants or the other groups, all of which the GOP scapegoats.

Tom, let’s her another round of how partisan Miller is, while it is you who are the ultimate partisan, and so utterly lacking is self awareness you can’t even see or admit it.

Tom Scharbach September 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Tom, you are either being willfully duplicitous or you are so partisan you can’t see how silly your remarks are. Clearly, Obama was saying government is no more the source of our problems than are gays, immigrants or the other groups, all of which the GOP scapegoats.

So if Obama had said that the government is no more the source of all our problems than aliens, that would make the government an alien? Is that what you think?

Boaz did a riff asserted that Obama thinks that the government is a “group” — you read his piece, I assume — and while the riff was a good vehicle for him to make his libertarian point that governments are “institutions of force” that are inherently oppressive, the “government as group” riff depended on a non-grammatical reading of what Obama actually said in his remarks.

Tom, let’s her another round of how partisan Miller is, while it is you who are the ultimate partisan, and so utterly lacking is self awareness you can’t even see or admit it.

I’ve identified as a Democrat for years on this list. I’ve identified as an activist for “equal means equal” for years on this list. Of course I’m partisan, on both counts. Your observations about my unwillingness to “admit it” are based on what, exactly, other than your imagination?

Tom Scharbach September 12, 2012 at 7:35 am

The Democrats are selling themselves in 2012 as the party that simply cares more. They feel your pain…

Along those lines, there’s a very interesting article in the Boston Globe about Mitt Romney’s dealings with gays and lesbians during his governorship this morning.

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