Ed Kilgore has a good, very detailed response to Damon Linker. One thing to add is that the idea that pro-criminalizing-abortion politics is at bottom about procedural objections rather than moral objections 1)is condescension dressed up as respect, and 2)exceptionally implausible. How many people who oppose Roe consistently oppose judicial intervention into policy disputes? Given the reaction to, say, Kelo, Heller, or Parents Involved, we can approximate the number as approximately “zero.” Or, about the same as the number of people who care about “federalism” when it conflicts with any cherished political interest.
Author Page for Scott Lemieux
I hadn’t seen the wealthy urban male proposing to “solve” the abortion debate by letting anti-choicers win (hey, women he knows will be able to get abortions, so who cares, right?) routine in its pure form for a while, but Damon Linker is back to the plate:
How could Obama — how could liberals, how could supporters of abortion rights — both win and end the culture war, once and for all? By supporting the reversal or significant narrowing of Roe, allowing abortion policy to once again be set primarily by the states — a development that would decisively divide and demoralize the conservative side of the culture war by robbing it of the identity politics that holds it together as a national movement.
I’ve been through this many times before — most comprehensively in the article linked at the top — but to summarize some of the most obvious defects in Linker’s argument:
- The idea that overturning Roe would “return the issue to the states” is transparently wrong, and the idea that having constant legislative battles about banning abortion at the state and federal level would somehow “end the culture war” is bizarre.
- Linker’s claim that the pro-life movement was “conjured into being” by Roe is entirely false. Opposition to abortion legalization was very well-mobilized prior to 1973, which is why abortion was still illegal in most states with little immediate prospect for changing policy for the better. If the argument is that the movement expanded, this would seem to be the more trivial argument that winning creates more opposition. Linker’s answer that it would therefore be better to lose seems…unconvincing.
- Linker’s grasp on abortion law seems, at best, tenuous. Consider his claim that “in socially liberal Western Europe, where democratically elected legislatures readily place modest restrictions on abortion that would never be allowed to stand under current American constitutional law.” My first question: what “modest” restriction of abortion (aside from husband notification laws) would not be permitted under current American constitutional law? (Linker shows no awareness that Casey even exists.) My second question: Does Linker realize that when you consider all factors — most notably state funding — abortion is probably more accessible to women in many Western European countries than in the U.S.? I fear he does not, and indeed has never spent much time considering how abortion policy actually works on the ground.
- Another country Linker doesn’t mention: Canada, where abortion is a federally protected right, abortion is both largely unregulated and state-funded, and yet policy has been stable and abortion is not a salient issue in national politics. And since it completely destroys his assertion that the “culture war” over abortion is solely the product of judicial intervention, I think you can understand why.
In addition to these kinds of problems, there’s a broader question: why is the fact that people disagree over abortion supposed to be a bad thing, exactly? Politics is about conflict. So talk about “ending the culture war” doesn’t make sense. But even if it was a viable and desirable goal, I’m certainly sure that extinguishing the aboriton rights of poor women in red states won’t somehow end political conflict over abortion.
[X-Posted at TAPPED.]
Says it all, doesn’t it? And, of course, good that the new Congress acted so quickly to overrule the odious Ledbetter decision. Although the Republican argument that civil rights are OK as long as nobody can enforce them is certainly very compelling!
…while the link at Feministe is down, see here.
Adjustable rate mortgages more likely to default! A pretty shocking development — I don’t think anybody could have ever predicted that they would be used by people who couldn’t actually afford the higher rates. Especially since they were approved by St. Alan Greenspan, whose fears about the risk and likelihood of paying down the national debt too quickly were certainly well-founded…
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she didn’t come to Washington to be “bipartisan”, one day after shuttling through an $819 economic stimulus bill without a single Republican vote.
“I didn’t come here to be partisan, I didn’t come here to be bipartisan,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference. “I came here, as did my colleagues, to be nonpartisan, to work for the American people, to do what is in their interest.”
Pelosi expressed no regrets over passing the stimulus measure without any GOP support. Republicans followed their leaders in objecting to the bill on the grounds that it was put together without GOP input, and that it would not do enough to stimulate the economy.
Repeating the term “nonpartisan” on more than one occasion in describing the bill, the Speaker said her goal was to put President Obama’s vision on paper for the good of the country regardless of the type of support it garnered.
Testify, Big John:
Sen. John Kerry says Democrats should ignore Republicans’ demands about the stimulus plan if they’re going to vote against it anyway.
Reacting to Wednesday night’s vote in the House — where not a single GOP member supported the stimulus package — Kerry told Politico that “if Republicans aren’t prepared to vote for it, I don’t think we should be giving up things, where I think the money can be spent more effectively.”
“If they’re not going to vote for it, let’s go with a plan that we think is going to work.”
The Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate suggested tossing some of the tax provisions in the stimulus that the GOP requested. “Those aren’t job creators immediately, and even in the longer term they’re not necessarily. We’ve seen that policy for the last eight years,” he said.
Hopefully this is sinking in more widely. No votes, your votes aren’t needed for passage, no leverage. This is pretty easy. And it looks as if the obvious is finally being recognized.
I’m not really sure why so many wingers find these issues so complex, but…
Shorter Jules Crittenden: Jessica Alba was really dumb for calling Sweden neutral. Even though Sweden is neutral. But in my judgment, Sweden shouldn’t have been neutral, which means that Alba was really stupid to say that they were. See? This is the kind of analysis which makes me much smarter than Jessica Alba.
Apparently, Caitlan Flanagan’s anecdotes and urban legends turn out to be not terribly reliable. I, for one, am shocked. I also agree with Jessica that the panic about teen sex really over a panic over girls (or young women, really) having sex.
I think Steve M.’s analysis of the problems with defenses of Paterson’s senate appointment are very astute. One line of argument goes that Gillibrand was a strong choice for 2010 because a more progressive candidate would have their support too localized in New York to win, so we could end up with an Al D’Amato/Pataki situation. The main problem with such arguments , as Steve points out, is that 1)Westchester, Long Island, and other NYC bedroom areas are much more liberal than they were 15 years ago, and 2)upstate has shrunk relative to the population in the NYC metro area. Basically, the old Republican competitiveness formula no longer works. Any vaguely credible Democratic candidate, including one significantly more progressive than Gillibrand, would be a massive, massive favorite in 2010 even before we get to the question of who exactly the D’Amato/Pataki figure for the GOP is supposed to be. I suppose there may be good reasons to have picked Gillibrand, but the idea that the Dems needed her to win in 2010 certainly isn’t one of them.