NOW & Obama's "present" abortion votes
by Jerome Armstrong, Wed Dec 05, 2007 at 05:04:05 AM EST
There's a lot of back-and-forth between Clinton and Obama going on, but the offensive seems to all be on Clinton's side. From going after Obama for using his PAC as a slush fund to early state politicians after he's announced his candidacy (that's the legal difference Obamafans), poking fun at Obama's Kindergarten to 3rd grade ambition to be President (Edwards has joined in: "I have to confess," Mr. Edwards said, "when I was in third grade, I wanted to be two things. I wanted to be a cowboy, and I wanted to be Superman." The audience roared.), and now, more potently, over Obama's non-committal to abortion rights while he was a state senator.
From Illinois Now:
As a State Senator, Barack Obama voted `present' on seven abortion bills, including a ban on 'partial birth abortion,' two parental notification laws and three 'born alive' bills. In each case, the right vote was clear, but Senator Obama chose political cover over standing and fighting for his convictions.
"When we needed someone to take a stand, Senator Obama took a pass," said Grabenhofer. "He wasn't there for us then and we don't expect him to be now."
It's not surprising that NOW is going to try and help Clinton; afterall, they have endorsed Clinton. But the opening provided by Obama's "present" votes on abortion in the State Senate of Illinois gives them substantive issues to move beyond being pro-Clinton to being anti-Obama.
I would expect that we see NOW get involved with this in the early states, particularly since Obama's rationale for the 'present' votes isn't particularly believable.
The Chicago Tribune provides more of a context behind the 'present' votes by Obama:
Perhaps nothing illustrated Obama's calculating style more than his approach to abortion. The state Senate voted 14 times on various abortion restrictions during his tenure. Half the time, Obama voted "present."
He said it was a strategy agreed to by abortion-rights advocates to insulate Democrats from political backlash in more conservative areas. But Obama's Hyde Park district was one of the state's most liberal.
...Legislators face an array of sensitive topics, but few pack the emotional and political wallop of abortion. Obama has long publicly promoted his support for abortion rights, but his voting record in Springfield is not simple to read.
Obama said he sought compromise with abortion opponents, but they balked. As a fallback, he said he worked out an arrangement with abortion-rights advocates to encourage Democrats to vote "present" on some bills if they feared a "no"would look insensitive and endanger their re-election.
But few of the other Democrats who voted "present" on abortion bills recall such a strategy. And, like Obama, they weren't politically vulnerable.
Update [2007-12-5 11:14:18 by Jerome Armstrong]: The Chicago NOW director doesnt like this Clinton argument against Obama, but the entire statewide organization is behind it. The argument aside, the substance of voting "present" is enough ammo for the attack to work for certain voters.