Harry Reid, Fig Leaf
My colleague Jeff Fleischer knows considerably more than I do about politics, but I'm going to have to disagree with his argument
that Democrats don't have an abortion problem. (I know, I know, two dudes discussion abortion, what could be more enlightening? See also this
male-heavy discussion on Left2Right.) I've had a decent number of discussions with pro-lifers since the election, and even among those who don't hate the Democrats, none of them were reassured by the fact that John Kerry personally opposes abortion. His whole straddle came off as, well, a straddle. Not one could understand how he could be so carefree about something that obviously was important to his faith. He didn't seem that way to me, but there you go.
Pointing to Harry Reid, meanwhile, doesn't strike me as proof that the party is inclusive. It strikes me as mere symbolism—everyone knows
we'd prefer Harry Reid to be pro-choice, and everyone knows that the Democrats would never let Reid get too far with his pro-life views. The party may accept Harry Reid, the person, but they will never give his views the time of day, and would actively oppose him if they had to. It doesn't fool me (which is why I'm not at all nervous about Reid as Minority Leader). I don't see why it would fool anyone else.
Anyways, this is just a roundabout way of saying that if the party really wants to reassure more people on the abortion issue, something more solid is needed. Sarah Blustein's deservedly-lauded essay
suggests that the party needs to address the fact that a good number of women—pro-choice women—are uncomfortable with the actual act
of abortion. For her, there's a personal dimension here that gets lost in the larger "it's my body" vs. "it's murder" frame—and moreover, it's a dimension that can be addressed without sacrificing actual, substantive positions. On the other hand, Kameron over at Alas, a Blog, points out
the real danger in over-emphasizing abortion's "ickiness". I don't think it's either/or, but she has a point—it's hard to reach out your hand without getting yanked over to the other side.