(Interesting, but I disagree: BOTH “ultrasound” and “personhood” are – or should be – huge politically. They are both utterly unacceptable and should provoke outrage among both women and men. – promoted by lowkell)
By Paul Goldman
It is time for Democrats to get ultra smart right now, since “His Veepness,” or more accurately the usually savvy guys around Governor McDonnell, may have let their anger at Bob Marshall cloud their 2012 political thinking.
OLD FACT: There was a time when the “personhood” bill was the marquee issue at the General Assembly. I wrote a piece right here and got quite a few calls criticizing me for suggesting Democrats needed to pick a bill – maybe that one – to draw a big public line in the Alamo sand, perhaps a filibuster, something dramatic to get public attention so we could, as Jessie Jackson liked to say, “you are somebody.”
I got shouted down. Okay, been there many times.
But then 1,000 modern-day Alice Pauls came to the State Capitol and gave the men running the Democratic side of the GA a lesson in how politics is done. The ultra sound of their protest against Senator Jill Vogel’s ultrasound bill (there are others of a similar on the House side, one by Delegate Kathy Bryon) gave Democrats a chance to call an audible — and “run to daylight,” as Coach Lombardi would say.
Earth to the Democratic guys in the GA: You owe those women a lot, so don’t forget.
NEW OLD FACT: With all due respect to Delegate Marshall, the amount of free publicity he is getting for his race against George Allen has always been inversely proportional to the real-world impact of his personhood bill. Just read the Webster case, which is cited by many of the bill’s supporters in Virginia or for similar bills in other states, as having said the Marshall language, borrowed from a Missouri’s statute, is constitutional.
NOT. This bill, if passed, will not negate any of the rights under Griswold, Roe or its progeny. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the swing vote in Roe v Wade, made that point in her concurring opinion in Webster.
But the bottom political line: in terms of 2012 politics for “His Veepness,” and 2013 for LG “Bolling Alone,” they both have it all wrong if they think personhood trumps ultrasound. The personhood concept in Marshall’s bill as written – it needs to be tweaked in my view if it is to be precisely just like Missouri’s as Marshall says he wants – should really be a “no brainer” for the Governor, the LG and the AG — and the same for any Democrat looking to take their jobs.
If you are a Republican, you vote YES: it will not cost you a single vote you would otherwise get. As for Democrats, you vote NO, it will not cost you a vote you would otherwise get. The bottom line is that the public basically knows where both parties stand on the general issue of abortion. The same for their likely GUV and national candidates.
NEW FACT: There really will not be any big winners from the personhood debate, except for Bob Marshall, who gets publicity his shoe-string campaign can’t buy. But “His Veepness” and “Bolling Alone” can be big losers if they continue to obsess over this issue while failing to see…
…THE REAL GAMECHANGER: The ultrasound of all those committed women who took the time to come to Richmond and make sure Jefferson’s Capitol Square rang with their indignation. To be sure, given the changes to the Capitol grounds, the right to protest and seek redress before one’s legislative body doesn’t have the same feel. It wasn’t long ago that one could simply walk into the Capitol building from the outside lawn; not anymore (9/11 is the reason. It is a shame really.)
But, be that as it may, the Alice Paul’s of Virginia rocked the Capitol. To paraphrase Helen Reddy: They are women, hear their ultra sound roar!
The Virginia Democratic Party needs to hire the organizers of that rally fast. Make one DPVA Chair if you ask me; at least that way, we’d have someone who knows how to win statewide, unlike what we’ve got now.
The saying “all politics is local” is just that: it is all Newtonian baby, cause and effect, the local angle is the connection between them. Marshall’s bill is abstract, it only has effect through a series of carom shots.
“Ultrasound” is personal, as personal as it gets. Nothing abstract about it: the bill is the direct cause of a very personal effect.
“Ultrasound” hits home to independent and Republican women in a way “personhood” doesn’t.
I renew the call – if Warner or Kaine or TMac or Wilder or McEachin or all their staffers, whomever want to take credit, get the limelight, go for it I say – which is really just the echo of those 1,000 women: figure out a way for Democrats to force a whole news cycle or two solely on ultrasound. I know it’s hard, you are all such good government types, you never play politics, just 24/7 doing the people’s business.
But humor the 1,001 of us: take time off from proposing new gas taxes or more budget spending or whatever. GA Democrats and VPA Democrats need to arrange for a 10,000-person rally against “ultrasound” on Jefferson’s lawn outside the Capitol, while Senate Democrats figure out a way to play their part in the drama (the House Democrats lack the numbers and the rules are different.)
If it is too late for that, then go to a slim-downed Plan B.
I don’t claim to know when life begins, way above my pay grade. But, I do know when your political life can end — and that the ultrasound echoing all the way to the Governor’s office is the #1 political issue in VA right now.