Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Blogger Jack O'Toole thinks Howard Dean hit the nail on the head in his Sunday interview with Tim Russert. Dean would like to see Dems strike the words "abortion" and "choice" from the way they frame the debate:
When I campaigned for this job [as DNC Chair], I talked to lots of Democrats. And there are significant numbers of pro-life Democrats in the South. And one lady said to me, you know, “I’m pro-life. I don’t like abortion. I would never have one. I would hope my daughter would never have one. But, you know, if the lady next door got herself in a fix, I’m not sure I should be the one to tell her what to do.” Now, we call that woman pro-choice, but she thinks of herself as pro-life. The minute we start with the “pro-choice, pro- choice, pro-choice,” she says, “Well, that’s not me.”
But when you talk about framing this debate the way it ought to be framed, which is “Do you want Tom DeLay and the boys to make up your mind about this, or does a woman have a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she gets,” then that pro-life woman says “Well, now, you know, I’ve had people try to make up my mind for me and I don’t think that’s right.” This is an issue about who gets to make up their minds: the politicians or the individual. Democrats are for the individual. We believe in individual rights. We believe in personal freedom and personal responsibility. And that debate is one that we didn’t win, because we kept being forced into the idea of defending the idea of abortion.

O'Toole praises Dean's take on the issue and expands on his theme:
Dean’s right. There’s a huge difference between taking the principled position that this difficult, often painful choice should ultimately rest with the woman involved, and trying to make the utterly fatuous argument that giving birth and getting an abortion are, in the main, morally equivalent actions that demand equal respect from the public at large. They aren’t and they don’t. And the only way that we Dems are going to be able to successfully defend the first proposition — the Constitutional Option, if you will — is by explicitly rejecting the second.
That’s going to be an unpleasant rhetorical shift for some of our most committed supporters, particularly those who somehow, somewhere got it into their heads that we have a duty as Americans to celebrate people’s choices rather than simply to tolerate them. But shift we must. And Dean deserves a great deal of credit for looking the base of our party in the eye and saying so.

Here's my two cents. Dean framed the issue artfully: “Do you want Tom DeLay and the boys to make up your mind about this, or does a woman have a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she gets?" I always appreciated the use of "boys" from him as in "Ken Lay and the boys", in other words the good old boys who think they deserve to rule the rest of us. "Make up her own mind" appeals to the individualist in everyone. And finally, he uses "health care" instead of the hot button word "abortion."
Dean has, I think, a commonsensical knack for framing ideas.

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