Democratic Scare Tactics

Recently the Obama campaign put out an push trying to inform voters that if McCain wins the Presidency that will “imperil” abortion (an example in the echo chamber). As a quick example see Mr Schraub:

Obama is up with radio ads attacking John McCain on abortion. That’s rare from a Democratic candidate, but the fact that Roe is genuinely imperiled this election makes it wise move, in my view.

Uhmmm. That’s pretty much pure hogwash. Does he (or Mr Obama) imagine that the Democrats will somehow magically lose control of House and Senate as well in this election. I don’t think that’s expected by anyone. Does he (or Mr Obama) forget that the judicial confirmation process is not “advise and consent” but typically a litmus test on key issues? If McCain does win, the judges that get confirmed will be have to be relatively centrist. Abortion will not “suddenly be illegal” at best it will be regulated more (which by the way is all I personally would like to see). But its more likely that given a McCain victory the Roe v Wade decision will remain on the books for another 4 years.

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35 comments

  1. Three problems: First, there’s no guarantee that Dems will hold the Senate for the next four years. Even granting that it’d take a cataclysm for Dems to lose seats this cycle, who knows the story two years from now? Second, as I believe Ezra Klein once said, it’s a bit bizarre to defend John McCain’s stated policies by arguing that they’ll never be put in practice due to Democratic opposition. If McCain will be facing a D senate and thus can’t implement any of his agenda, does that mean every domestic policy argument he’s put out is now off-limits? (The McCain campaign would love that — they themselves are trying to say “this election is not about issues”)

    And finally, the Democratic Senate in the last few years has not exactly been the aces when it comes to blocking anti-choice judges. It’s not unreasonable for American women who want to maintain control of their bodies to look for a more definitive hedge against overturning Roe than the Senate caucus.

  2. Any abortion-supporter in his/her right mind would consider one more conservative judge to be imperiling legal abortion. You really think a Democratic Congress is going to keep a President McCain from installing an anti-abortion judge for four or eight years? No way.

  3. Mark says:

    David (who I’m guessing will not respond back as that has been his recent practice),

    1) Have you ever heard of the mid-term slump? The reason that is coined is because typically the Presidents party suffers a loss in the mid-term elections.

    2. Look there is a big step between overturning RvW (which requires SCOTUS nominations only) and overturning it and making abortion illegal. That latter part requires Congress. A Democratic led congress.

    3. It doesn’t have to be aces, just on the one SCOTUS judicial hearing it has to make sure the nominee approved is centrist … and then even if that fails, not write any legislation making abortion illegal. That’s not “aces” that’s “not failing to hold to the one and only Democratic unifying idea”

    JA,
    See above, regarding “imperiling”. Even overturning RvW is does not abortion imperil. It then takes laws. Federal laws are basically for the next term basically impossible.

    The main point is, the “cry” noted above is just scare tactics. If you ever “demonize” GOP “scare tactics” then don’t do it yourself.

  4. See above, regarding “imperiling”. Even overturning RvW is does not abortion imperil.

    I’m not sure you know what “imperiling” means.

    It then takes laws. Federal laws are basically for the next term basically impossible.

    It would then take STATE laws, which would be swift in coming in many red states.

    The main point is, the “cry” noted above is just scare tactics. If you ever “demonize” GOP “scare tactics” then don’t do it yourself.

    They’re running on a pro-life platform!! The only way this would be equivalent to Republican scare tactics is if Obama were running on a pro-Al-Qaeda platform.

  5. Mark says:

    JA,

    They’re running on a pro-life platform!!

    OK. But to not be a scare tactics should a reasonable expectation of what might be actually accomplished be a factor?

    It would then take STATE laws, which would be swift in coming in many red states.

    And that’s a bad thing? That is not on the particulars of abortions but you think its particularly bad that if states urgently want particular legislation that they should be blocked?

  6. OK. But to not be a scare tactics should a reasonable expectation of what might be actually accomplished be a factor?

    What scare tactics? Abortion would in plain fact be “imperiled” if R v W is overturned.

    And that’s a bad thing? That is not on the particulars of abortions but you think its particularly bad that if states urgently want particular legislation that they should be blocked?

    If said legislation infringes on people’s rights, yes, it should be blocked. Which is pretty much exactly what Roe says.

  7. Mark says:

    JA,
    Abortion would be imperiled or abortion in a few very red states would be “imperiled” if a series of somewhat unlikely steps happen (such as very conservatives judges being nominated with a Democratic controlled consent process or the Democrats losing control of houses reversing the normal mid-term slump).

  8. You think it’s unlikely that McCain would nominate a pro-lifer that makes it through??

  9. Mark says:

    JA,
    Sorry, I missed this earlier. We’ve a number of conversation topics going (all kinda related). Anyhow, excuses aside, it would be my guess that given a mostly non-ideological McCain and Democratic majority that, no, while he might prefer it, that he would not be able to push a clearly pro-life jurist though. And he knows it. So no. I don’t think he’d nominate a jurist who’d be likely to overturn RvW. The best we, who think abortion should be limited, can hope for on that front given the Congressional makeup is possibly a centrist jurist might slip through who might allow the erosion of RvW to continue.

    So in brief yes, I think it unlikely he’d nominate (or that Senate would confirm) a pro-lifer.

  10. Anne says:

    What I can’t figure is why Obama got a free pass from the Democrats when he said that children were a punishment. 1) what a horrendous thing to say on a human level; i wonder were his own children ever likely to see that clip, or even if they were watching when he said it. 2) what a non-reality-based thing to say; does he think his own children were a punishment? or that most children are a punishment? that in general, a person’s life is better off without children than with? if not, why say children are a punishment?

    What planet is he from? What kind of moral compass would you have to have to say someone would be “punished” by having children? And besides what kind of human being would say such a thing, how about what kind of human being would applaud or cheer when someone else says such a thing?

    I don’t get it.

  11. Anne:

    I don’t think any of us Dems believe Obama thinks children are a punishment. What he meant was, anti-abortionists are in effect using children to punish women for having sex when they oppose abortion on the grounds that actions should have consequences. You know, like when they oppose the HPV vaccine because it might encourage premarital sex.

    Do you honestly believe he sees children as a punishment? Or can you see that he just worded his point unfortunately?

  12. Mark says:

    JA,
    You’re not making sense.

    Parse “anti-abortionists are in effect using children to punish women”. The punishment. Children. How is that not children are a punishment and how then does it not lead to the questions Anne asks?

    Children are a consequence of having sex … not a punishment. My children are still trying to understand the distinction between punishment and consequence a lot of the time. There is a difference.

  13. Mark,

    I think when you purposely prevent someone from avoiding a consequence in order to modify their behavior, you are using the consequence as a punishment… even if the consequence is not ordinarily a punishment. Again, I’m sure Obama regrets his choice of words, but I’m also sure that’s pretty much what he meant.

    What do you think he meant? Do you think he really sees children as “punishment?”

  14. Mark says:

    JA,
    You don’t think that, or at least don’t see that as the complete picture.

    If my daughter breaks a toy, then the consequence is she no longer has that toy to use. If she decides to take (steal) a replacement from her sister and I prevent it … then I am most assuredly not “using the consequence” as a punishment. And I think you’d agree with that.

    The problem is that the majority of people, including Mr Obama see abortion as morally problematic, hence the common statement of even progressive politicians stating that a “reduction in the number of abortions” as desirable. Therefore, the statement does necessarily imply that it is children not the prevention which is intended (logically) as the consequence in that statement.

    Do I think Obama meant that? Well, he did ‘If he’s smart”. You’re the one who contends that Mr Obama is very intelligent. Either he is, and means children are the punishment, or he isn’t and he’s just a sloppy thinker.

    But I don’t think he sees his children as a punishment, but the view that children qua children can and are viewed as punishment in unplanned pregnancies is in fact his view.

  15. Either he is, and means children are the punishment, or he isn’t and he’s just a sloppy thinker.

    Or he isn’t, and he spoke a sloppy sentence. It’s bound to happen considering how many sentences he speaks over the course of a campaign. You’re really being unfair. He’s a smart guy, but he’s not a computer.

    Do you think he really thought there were 57 states as well? What’s the opposite of “giving someone the benefit of the doubt?”

    But I don’t think he sees his children as a punishment, but the view that children qua children can and are viewed as punishment in unplanned pregnancies is in fact his view.

    I think it would be more accurate to say that the view that children qua children can be and are used by some anti-abortion people as punishment is in fact his view.

  16. I think an important note is that he didn’t say the babies would be the punishment, he said, he didn’t want them punished with a baby. If your daughter breaks a toy, and you punish her by making her babysit, does that mean that you think babysitting is a punishment? Or is it more about how you are using it?

  17. Mark says:

    JA,
    The child is not an unrelated consequence unlike the example you give (which especially in the case of my younger daughter would be viewed as a reward not a punishment as she adores the little ones).

    I don’t think you’ve adequately answered the “prevention of theft is not a consequence objection”.

  18. Mark says:

    JA,
    I should add that the setting of consequences as a parent has as it’s most difficult part the making sure that the consequence is logically related to the infraction. That is the essential problem with the babysitting example, and the essential non-problem with the “having a child as a consequence of sex”. That is that having a child is actually really is a consequence of sex.

  19. Boonton says:

    Anne

    What I can’t figure is why Obama got a free pass from the Democrats when he said that children were a punishment.

    Probably because he was talking the way everyone does. Are you telling me you never heard someone say getting pregnant is a consquence of having sex? And no you don’t have to be some child hating monster to recognize the truth that it isn’t always a positive consquence. While it isn’t always negative in the case of very young women, it more often than not is.

    Do you get upset when the media reports a decrease in teen pregnancy as good news or an increase as bad news? If you do then you too are saying children are bad! Ohhh the horror!

    What planet is he from? What kind of moral compass would you have to have to say someone would be “punished” by having children?

    Pro-lifers do indeed sometimes talk this way and they have a legit point. The option of abortion does make some people a bit less careful about sex because abortion is there as a ‘backup’….if abortion wasn’t there they would be a bit more careful. If you think that sentence has even a tiny bit of truth then you too are asserting children are a type of punishment….at least in some cases.

  20. removed on request of comment author.

  21. If my daughter breaks a toy, then the consequence is she no longer has that toy to use. If she decides to take (steal) a replacement from her sister and I prevent it … then I am most assuredly not “using the consequence” as a punishment. And I think you’d agree with that.

    It’s a bad analogy because it presupposes that abortion is wrong. If there were free replacements just lying around and you forbade her to take one so that she would have to experience the “consequence” of breaking her toy, you would be punishing her.

    I think you’re arguing so much about the trees, you can’t see the forest, to take your metaphor. I don’t really want to analyze to death a comment Obama made off the cuff and would happily admit he worded unfortunately. The basic point is, there are many on the “pro-life” side who oppose abortion in part because they want to reduce premarital sex. That is in effect using the baby as punishment, no matter how carefully you want to examine the difference between consequence and punishment. Whether abortion is in itself bad is a separate topic.

    One can be “punished with X” even if X isn’t typically a punishment. Let me provide one more example. Boy knocks up girl. Girl’s parents force boy to marry girl, not because they particularly care about the girl, but because they want to play some part in disincentivizing premarital sex. They are then essentially punishing the boy with marriage, even though marriage isn’t typically a “punishment.”

  22. They are then essentially punishing the boy with marriage, even though marriage isn’t typically a “punishment.”

    For a closer analogy, they are essentially punishing the boy with a wife, even though wives aren’t typically considered punishment.

  23. Boonton says:

    I should add that the setting of consequences as a parent has as it’s most difficult part the making sure that the consequence is logically related to the infraction. That is the essential problem with the babysitting example, and the essential non-problem with the “having a child as a consequence of sex”. That is that having a child is actually really is a consequence of sex..

    Not quite. The issue is in this hypothetical example babysitting is used as a punishment, given that all family situations are different almost anything that can be used as a punishment in one family may be viewed as something fun in another family (i.e. washing the dishes, mowing the law (esp. if you have a riding mower), washing the car etc.)

    Long story short, something would be a punishment if it either causes you hardship or if it is something you don’t want. Hence Obama’s statement is apt even if you, like he, does not think babies are bad.

    In the case of young women, pregnancy often is both something unwanted and something that causes hardship (not always, there are teens who purposefully get pregnant and not all teen mothers end up the worse for it). AS I pointed out, when the media reports something like “Good news, teen pregnancy rates fall!” no one gets upset even though this logically implies the headline writer somehow views babies as something of a bad (you do get fewer babies if you get fewer pregnancies after all).

  24. Boonton says:

    But here’s what I really wanted to hit you with! You do realize that many people are deeply unhappy with the GOP and would like to vote for Obama. For more than a few, abortion might be the only reason they are sticking with the party….. Do you realize by presenting a “abortion doesn’t matter” argument you are probably giving people more reason to opt for Obama than the other way around?

  25. Mark says:

    JA,
    The objection of assuming abortion is wrong is a valid objection, but which I’ve already countered. To whit, Mr Obama (and most people) want to “reduce the number of abortions”. Why? Because it’s morally problematic, i.e., wrong.

    And the “replacements” for any toy from the child’s perspective is that it is free (and so are all toys) and for that matter most children’s toys are inexpensive. Not replacing the toy is a logical consequence. Putting additional chores or restricting other unrelated activities is punishment because it is not a logical consequence.

    Yes, Obama made the point off the cuff. But I think he believes the sentiment behind with the statement made, if he at the same time in afterthought considers the particular language unfortunate.

  26. Mark says:

    Boonton & JA,
    Part of my “sensitivity” to “consequence” vs “punishment” is that we (my wife and I) are influenced in our childraising by the Rudolf Dreikurs child psychology/child-rearing teaching such as Logical Consequences. The separation (semantically) and making a careful distinction between logical consequences and punishment is a key operational praxis.

    Boonton,
    I realize that many people are unhappy with the GOP, which makes all the odder that the Dems are fronting such a poor candidate (the race shouldn’t be at all close now).

    Do you realize by presenting a “abortion doesn’t matter” argument you are probably giving people more reason to opt for Obama than the other way around?

    Well, if I thought Obama was a better candidate I’d be shilling for him. I’m not a lock-step partisan for the GOP by any means.

    Either way, I’d personally prefer to forgo scare tactics from either side of the bench in favor of more reasoned and reasonable conversation. Hence my calling Mr Schraub on his scare tactics (which are repeated elsewhere and by the candidate himself).

  27. The objection of assuming abortion is wrong is a valid objection, but which I’ve already countered. To whit, Mr Obama (and most people) want to “reduce the number of abortions”. Why? Because it’s morally problematic, i.e., wrong.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say that wanting to reduce the number implies you think it’s wrong. Maybe he just wants fewer people to get an avoidable surgery. Maybe he wants America to be less divided over the issue. Maybe he wants to spare women the grief some may feel after having an abortion. Etc.

    Not replacing the toy is a logical consequence. Putting additional chores or restricting other unrelated activities is punishment because it is not a logical consequence.

    You’re just doing the same thing you always do — finding some characteristic that is not relevant to argue why two things should be treated differently. “Logical consequence” and “punishment” are not mutually exclusive, especially when one steps in to prevent someone else from avoiding a “logical consequence.”

    Half the pro-life movement is about trying to prevent premarital sex. Not because it might lead to unwed moms or to abortions, but because they think sex outside of marriage is sinful. If you want another example, take the HPV vaccine. Some among the “pro-lifers” oppose it, which if they got their way would pretty much certainly cause more people to die. Actual people, not fetuses. But it’s all okay, because they think it might cause some girls to rethink premarital sex. They’re using cervical cancer as a (potential) punishment. They use babies the same way.

    The separation (semantically) and making a careful distinction between logical consequences and punishment is a key operational praxis.

    So the pro-life movement is guilty of being unclear in their methods of punishment by blending it with consequence. Take it up with them.

  28. They use babies the same way.

    This is especially obvious in those “pro-lifers” who also oppose contraception.

  29. Anne says:

    Hi JA

    You were saying, “What he meant was, anti-abortionists are in effect using children to punish women for having sex”.

    You know, I don’t think Obama meant anything of the sort; in context it sounded like he thinks the hardships of raising a child as an unwed mother make having a baby, on the whole, a bad thing therefore a punishment. And if Obama (or any pro-abortion-on-demand person) is even vaguely acquainted with pro-lifers beyond the propaganda that demonizes us, you’ll know that we pro-lifers actually don’t think children are a punishment, we think they’re human beings and that’s the entire reason we’re pro-life. We’re entirely pro-adoption if the birth mother for some reason really can’t make a decent shot a parenthood; the child is absolutely not intended as a punishment; just recognized as a human.

    You were saying, “You know, like when they oppose the HPV vaccine because it might encourage premarital sex.” Where did that come from? The only leader-type I’ve heard come out opposed to the vaccine — and he’s not the brightest bulb in the pack — was more horrified at all children being assumed to be at risk, as if it were a slight on parenting skills or culture or something to assume that the general promiscuity of our society causes a health risk to everyone. Well, in reality, while I think premarital sex is a bad idea, it would take ostrich-like perceptive skills to think it’s not prevalent, that the promiscuity of our culture isn’t a health danger to everybody. BTW the (Republican) governor of my state is very pro-HPV-vaccination. My neighbor across the street is a teenager struggling with cancer because of an STD (but it wasn’t HPV, so that vaccine is still not quite a cure-all for cancer-causing STD’s). Still, I’m personally in favor of any safe vaccine that protects against a real threat.

    You asked, “Do you honestly believe he sees children as a punishment? Or can you see that he just worded his point unfortunately?”

    I honestly believe he sees unwed motherhood as a punishment and therefore the child as a punishment. And yes, it was unfortunate wording — it’s the kind of thing politicians usually hide since such anti-humanist thoughts don’t usually play well with people of conscience. I was actually impressed that, right before that, Obama said (basically) that he’d try to teach his daughters right from wrong so they didn’t end up in a spot like that in the first place. I was glad he’d said that. I was wondering how that part of the speech played to the Democratic audience. I mean, I wonder what percentage of the Dems were offended by a frank acknowledgement that premarital sex isn’t the best idea and that a responsible parent would discourage it. I know my parents (Dad very quiet about his views, Mom a Planned Parenthood volunteer) never said a word against pre-marital sex while I was growing up. Is it really consider OK in the Democratic party to frankly acknowledge that premarital sex should be discouraged?

    Anyway, enough of my rambling. 🙂

    Take care & God bless
    Anne / WF

  30. Anne:

    Obama comes from the religious left, who are mostly in fact against premarital sex. Personally, I’m all for it as long as it’s safe sex and all parties are mature enough for it. I guess I’m part of the secular left. 🙂

  31. And I think we’ll have to agree to disagree regarding whether Obama really thinks that children are a punishment to an unwed mother.

  32. Anne says:

    Hi JA

    All I’d ask is that you consider whether you’re attributing to Obama the concerns that he voices himself, or the ones which make his mistake somehow the fault of people you dislike instead of the person you like … I love Lemony Snicket’s take on “agreeing to disagree” but you may not have read those particular children’s books …

    Take care & God bless
    Anne / WF

  33. Anne:

    And all I ask is that you consider whether a man such as Obama could genuinely consider children to be punishments. My interpretation just makes a lot more sense, at least to myself.

  34. I’d also suggest that it might be harder for someone who is “pro-life” to understand someone who is pro-choice.

  35. Boonton says:

    Anne,

    In response to JA you wrote:

    “All I’d ask is that you consider whether you’re attributing to Obama the concerns that he voices himself, or the ones which make his mistake somehow the fault of people you dislike instead of the person you like ”

    Obama did have a powerful speech not too long about going after men who father children out of wedlock, esp. in the black community. I believe the line he used was pretty harsh….something like “they are acting like whores instead of fathers”. I think JA is correct that Obama comes from the religious left which indeed frowns on premarital sex.

    If you want to make a semantic distinction between bad consquences (a person smokes therefore gets lung cancer) and punishment (I miss my credit card payment, get hit with a late fee) feel free. I think your argument though is less substance and more rhetorical stunt (does Mark think cute little children are ‘bad consquences’?)