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Thursday, February 02, 2006

NARAL Defends Chafee to the End

This is absurd. A letter received by mike4273 from NARAL over Lincoln Chafee:
Thank you for contacting us. As a pro-Choice American, your values and beliefs are at the core of our mission. We want to hear from you and appreciate the support you have demonstrated over the years to help make our online advocacy program one of the most effective and admired in the progressive community.

I have read your note, and I know you are not happy with us regarding our endorsement of Senator Lincoln Chafee. We did indeed urge senators to support extended debate on the controversial Alito nomination - and naturally, it's a disappointment when any senator votes against our recommendation. In fact, if you review the vote tally, you will see that we lost many pro-choice senators on the cloture vote -- not just Chafee. You should know that we did score both Alito votes, so the record will forever document each senator's ultimate decision on each vote. In other words, it's not being ignored.

But with so many relentless attacks on choice, and an anti-choice president determined to see this right taken away from American women forever, we must prioritize our work, and we need all the friends we can get. I do understand your frustration with Senator Chafee's vote - but he is a longtime ally and he has earned our endorsement. We treat him no differently than any other pro-choice senator - Democrat or Republican. I know we disagree on this one point, but our challenge is so monumental that I hope we can continue to stand together against our real opponents: President Bush, congressional leaders, and anti-choice senators who oppose us on every single vote.

Again, I appreciate the passion of your commitment to the fundamental freedoms we cherish. You are always welcome to contact us--with agreements and disagreements. I hope we can count on your continued support as we roll up our sleeves to achieve the common goals we share.

What decade are they living in? Do they fundamentally not understand that a vote for cloture was a vote for Alito? That Lincoln Chafee was let off his leash by the GOP to vote against Alito when it was purely window dressing, and he did not back them up on the vote that counted?

I received this last night from reader Gosprey, and I want everyone to read it because I don't think NARAL or PFAW or anyone on the Democratic side of the aisle who thought this battle was not worth fighting understands this. This comes from STRATFOR (no link, via email), so consider the source, but it's a good insight into how much the right had banking on an Alito victory:
"Recall, if you will, our view last fall that Bush was on the verge of a failed presidency. At that point, if he dropped below the 35-37 percent approval range, his core constituency would have been deserting him -- and that is something from which no president recovers. Bush hit the level and then paused. For about a month, his presidency teetered on the brink. Then the numbers started to rise and grew steadily into the mid- to high-40s -- which isn't great, but is out of the danger zone.

"For Bush, the very first step was to consolidate his base of support. He did a number of things along those lines, but the single most important thing he did came to fruition Tuesday -- Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court. The Republican core consists of three constituencies: Social, economic and national security conservatives. Last fall, Bush was in trouble with two of these groups. The national security conservatives felt that he was not providing sufficient resources to the military, was stretching it too thin. But he had to nail down the social conservatives before he could consider anything else.

"That's what Alito's nomination and confirmation were designed to do. Social conservatives believe -- hearings notwithstanding -- that Alito is with them on their key issues. Whether he is or not remains to be seen, but that Bush satisfied this key constituency has been obvious. He stabilized them as soon as he announced Alito's nomination.
As Gosprey notes, if Bush had lost control of the base and his polls continued to sink we would have stood a much better chance in the fall of 2006. That the Democrats and the interest groups did not at the very minimum use this as an opportunity to flush out the blue state "moderate" GOP Senators and make them show their allegiance to Bush over any kind of progressive causes they pretend to support is inexcusable.

In the Post article this morning, Ben Nelson pretty much woke up to ads in his local paper supporting Alito. Where were the local ads from the other side? Where was the campaign to put pressure on the Gang of 14, whose influence carried the day? That NARAL and others did not use this opportunity to give serious blows to Senators who do not -- make no mistake about it, despite all window dressing to the contrary -- support their agenda is so misguided it's ridiculous.

Says Digby:
If the NRA had been in NARAL's position this past week, they would have ripped their support from Lincoln Chafee so fast it would make Trent Lott's hair crack. They know when to pull the strings. Chafee chose his gang of 14 cred over his pro-choice cred. That's all you need to know about him. He has shown himself useless to the cause and should be dropped immediately. This is a seat that can be picked up by a real pro-choice Democrat who isn't running as a bowl of lukewarm water.

I honestly can't understand what in the hell they were thinking. It's one thing to back Chafee to make the Democrats not take you for granted. It's quite another to continue to back him after he failed a monumental test. Now Chafee knows they won't press him when the shit comes down and Democrats see them as a spent and useless force. What a spectacular strategy. When forced childbirth becomes the law of the land, I'm sure they'll be able to sleep nights knowing they cleverly backed a man who played them for fools.
That NARAL continues to back Lincoln Chafee over his opponent who would not have voted for cloture is just wrong, and their continued defense of him indicates that they fundamentally do not understand the long game, and they have no perception into the nature of what they are up against.

You can contact them here:
NARAL Pro-Choice America
1156 15th Street, NW Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005

Main Number: 202.973.3000
Main Fax: 202.973.3096
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NARAL is asking readers on their blog what they think they should do. I encourage you to make your thoughts known, and please be respectful, we are fighting for the same ultimate goal.