Post-election reckoning

Now that there’s been another week for the election results to sink in, more writers are taking stock of what happened, and there’s an interesting juxtaposition of views on social issues going on. Just as there was during the heat of the campaigns. Was it, is it, better to emphasize them, or de-emphasize them?

Austin Ruse vents in this opinion piece.

I wonder if these folks experienced the same campaign as the rest of us? Exactly when did Mitt Romney campaign, I mean really campaign on the life issues? What ads did he run? Perhaps they were thinking of the Romney ad meant to quell pro-choice concerns, the one telling folks they shouldn’t worry because he still favored abortion for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother? And perhaps these conservatives could show us the ads Romney ran supporting historical marriage, because I missed those and I live in what was one of the hottest of swing states, Virginia.

I might be able to understand these comments if Romney had actually run as a social conservative, but his race was first, last and always about the economy, smaller government, lower taxes, things to warm the cockles of almost any fiscal conservative. But where and when did he actually campaign as a social conservative?…

Romney did say he would defund Planned Parenthood but he never said why. He could have pointed out that there are several thousand Title X clinics not connected to Planned Parenthood that do everything Planned Parenthood does except abortions. He could have pointed out that Planned Parenthood raises a billion dollars a year and in time of fiscal crisis perhaps our money is spent better elsewhere. He could have said Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms no matter what they say. He could have said losing federal funding would hardly close Planned Parenthood down. But he didn’t say any of these things.

The decision not to run a campaign on social issues was made at the top and was ruthlessly imposed all the way to the smallest of campaign events…

Whether Team Romney knew it or not, there were three straight up pro-life votes in the states this time around. Two of them passed including one in liberal Massachusetts. And while it’s true historical marriage lost for the very first time in at least three states, in each of these very liberal states, pro-marriage forces ran ahead of Romney at the polls.

Here’s the thing. Most young people are pro-life. Most young women are pro-life. Most African-Americans are both pro-life and pro-family. These are three of the demographic groups Obama went after and won. Talk to African American pro-lifers. They were aching to help Romney but Romney was not interested in them. And they are livid. Team Romney left lots of voters behind who were eager to help and now the pundits blame them for Romney’s loss.

All along there was a war over women and it was fought exclusively by Barack Obama. There was a campaign run on the social issues but it was run exclusively by Barack Obama. Mitt Romney ceded the entire ground of the moral issues to Barack Obama and he ran right over Mitt Romney and his timid advisers.

Time to toughen up. Because some groups that seized the opportunity to advance their version of social issues are waging a scorched earth campaign to take new territory.

For the first time in its history, a United Nations agency, UNFPA, has declared access to contraception “a human right.”

“Family planning is a human right. It must therefore be available to all who want it,” declares the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) annual report. “But clearly this right has not yet been extended to all.”

The report calls on nations of the world to fight “cultural barriers,” as well as legal constraints, that cause women to forgo the use of birth control.

“What is to stop the UNFPA from declaring that abortion is a basic ‘human right,’ as they have already attempted to do several times, especially in light of the relentless UN drive to legalize abortion all over the world?” ask Brian Clowes, director of research for Human Life International, in an e-mail to

The report does not explicitly call for abortion legalization. However, it considers “emergency contraception” a human right, stating it “is not effective once implantation has begun and does not cause abortion.” However, the report adds, “A single emergency contraceptive pill, when taken within up to five days after unprotected intercourse, prevents a fertilized egg from implanting.”

Therefore, it is an abortifacent. A fertilized egg is terminated, which means newly conceived human life is ended, aborted.

That’s what the battle over the HHS mandate is all about. And there’s a new setback in that, too.

The owners of Hobby Lobby asked to be exempted from providing the “morning after” and “week after” pills on religious grounds, arguing this would violate their Christian belief that abortion is wrong.

Judge Joe Heaton of the U.S. District for the Western District of Oklahoma denied the request for a preliminary injunction…

The Food and Drug Administration lists the “morning after” and “week after” pills as emergency contraceptives. But abortion opponents like the Green family consider them abortion-inducing drugs because they are often taken after conception.

Early in his administration, President Obama gave a talk to a group of men at a church over Father’s Day weekend, exhorting them to be responsible to their families, reminding them that ‘fatherhood doesn’t end at conception.’ He had it right then. Conception means a man and woman have conceived a child. If only he would remember that basic truth now, and make that a social issue worth talking about again.

Who Mitt Romney is

Or, who is Mitt Romney? That’s the question of the week, and this is the week it’s due to get answered.

The Republican convention opened Monday, sort of.

The truncated 2012 Republican convention gets underway in earnest Tuesday, delayed by a storm threat and distracted by fears of a hurricane aiming at the northern Gulf Coast…

There is a risk of seeming tone deaf “if the rest of the county is riveted on any kind of horrific weather event,” Republican strategist Rick Davis [said].

It was a cautious start to an uncertain week. But the fact that it was scheduled to be four days in the first place, with the Democrats by necessity already shortening their convention next week to three days, calls this historical event into question, and rightfully so.

“These are very expensive propositions to put on,” [House Speaker John] Boehner said at a lunch hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “I think, given as much news as people get today and the way they get their news, I’m not sure having a four-day convention in the future makes a lot of sense.”

It doesn’t even make a little sense. Political campaigns have become mind-bogglingly expensive with gargantuan spending on saturation campaigns and way too much time spent by candidates on fundraising instead of more important matters, like governing (the incumbant) or policy formation and coalition building (the challenger). And all in the age when we do have near total and constant access to information on the candidates. As well as an inter-generational crushing debt requiring austerity measures all around.

Anyway, thus began the GOP convention week, and it will be interesting to see how coverage goes when the Democrats open theirs next week.

For example, and here’s just one, if media ask for more revelation on a candidate’s worldview and its evolution – very fair question – they should ask the same for both party’s candidates.

So, Mitt, what do you really believe?
Too much about the Republican candidate for the presidency is far too mysterious

That’s just the headline and sub-head of the Economist Leader piece this week. Which makes one wonder…did they ask those very questions of candidate Barack Obama in 2008? Would they dare ask it now?

We want to know all about both men who seek to lead this nation and influence the world over the next four, consequential years.

WSJ picks up the question.

The leader Republicans will nominate for president this week is a man of many paradoxes, a figure well known yet not entirely understood, someone who has been examined for two full presidential campaigns but whose personal beliefs remain the subject of intense debate.

The only part of that sentence that differs from the other candidate is the party designation. No wait…the other part is the “someone who has been examined” description. Because the president never was, though the rest applies.

My Monday radio show, on the sort-of opening day of the GOP convention, anticipating the Democratic convention next week, reflected on the meaning of it all in this day of instant and near-global information access, and whether folks are tuned in after all.

But this AP piece captures it well, I think. At least right now, at this point in time.

The conventions are made for TV. But that means made for all to see, across America and even the world. And the audience now gets to talk back, drafting its own instant platform via Twitter and Facebook and all our other electronic impulses.

The conventions are taxpayer-subsidized political commercials. But if they were only that, few would watch. We’ve seen too many mean ads already. By now most voters have made up their minds about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, anyway.

At their best, every four years, these mud-slinging, self-serving, partisan-by-definition displays rise to offer something more: moments that transcend politics.

Together, the two conventions make up a national stock-taking, a pause to remember our roots, figure out who we are and decide what’s truly important, without feeling too hokey about it. Like a virtual family reunion, Americans gather around their televisions, computers or smartphones to argue or agree, celebrate the good stuff, mourn our losses and regret our mistakes, to regroup, to look ahead.

The conventions are Barbara Jordan, Jesse Jackson and Obama, their very presence on the podium insisting that the American dream no longer be deferred. And Ferraro and Sarah Palin and Hillary Rodham Clinton, bursting through doors once locked to them.

They are the thousands of Vietnam War protesters chanting outside the 1968 Democratic meeting, who couldn’t be silenced by the tear gas and billy clubs of the Chicago police.

They are Robert Kennedy eulogizing the slain president who was also his big brother Jack. Nancy Reagan telling America that its Great Communicator is being hushed by Alzheimer’s. Mary Fisher pleading with the nation to come to its senses and find its compassion so her children wouldn’t feel ashamed someday to say out loud their mother died of AIDS.

Every four years, the political conventions come along to remind us how wrong we were about some things in the past. And that we know nothing, really, about what’s to come.

It’s no coincidence that Ronald Reagan, a genius at wielding metaphor, chose to speak at the 1976 GOP convention about what he would write in a time capsule letter to the future.

The conventions are time capsules, lovingly created and then buried in the rush to Election Day.

Dig through past conventions, their speeches and platforms, and you’ll find a record not just of Americans’ politics but also of their worries and fears, longings and dreams. Not just how the parties gave us Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. But also how passion to do something about slavery and civil rights and women’s rights and poverty percolated up from the people and into the convention halls and the White House.

This year’s speakers will talk about gay marriage, religious freedom, women’s health, the national debt, joblessness. And someone may say something in a way that sticks in the national consciousness and helps build a consensus that one day, in hindsight, will seem blazingly obvious.

Conventions are far from perfect. Too much of their time is wasted on things parochial and elitist and just silly. Not much has changed since Bob Dole summed up the GOP event of 1980: “The introducers spoke longer than the speakers. And the speakers spoke too long.”

But what else have we got? Self-consciously triumphant inaugurals, ponderous State of the Union speeches. Debates promise some spontaneity, but they’re too narrow, focused only on four candidates.

The conventions are a political Olympics, democracy as spectator sport: Score the best efforts of mayors and governors and senators who might be president someday. Catch those candidates and insiders who claim to hate Washington and loathe politics openly reveling in the raucous, strapping national debate, whatever they prefer to call it. Watch regular folks still willing to turn out, in silly hats and buttons, to cheer for something they believe in.

Well said. True, and well said.

I hope and pray the tropical storm somehow deflects or dissolves and spares lives and property, first and foremost. And then the raucous and rousing experiences of the party conventions get fully underway. Let the competition of two very different visions for America proceed.