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Right wing smears and lies

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, August 20, 2008 21:48 EDT
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Update: Jill Stanek admits that she’s, um, “mistaken” about Obama’s voting record. Perhaps it was driven home to her that the sane people she’s trying to cater favor with don’t believe for a moment that anyone is pro-infanticide, much less Barack Obama. I maintain that this could have been met at the pass by pointing out that anti-choicers like Stanek are disinterested in introducing legislation unless they’re convinced that it’s a way to undermine women’s rights. Knowing this about them, the automatic vote on any legislation they offer should be “no”. Anything suggested by Stanek should be treated like it was as toxic as legislation promoted by a white supremacist organization.

The mainstream media is jumping up and correcting the misinformation being promoted by right wing crazies on the confusing series of committee and floor votes Obama made on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. What’s happened is that right wing crazies have exploited the confusing nature of the various votes on this to create the misimpression that Obama voted no a bill that protects newborns from infanticide, but in fact he did no such thing, but voted down a bill that was a direct attack on the right to abortion, specifically to therapeutic abortions done to save the life or the health of pregnant women. Unfortunately, the Obama campaign fumbled the response to this whole blow-up and came across as waffling. The proper response was to say just what I did—that the bill was redundant with pre-existing murder laws, that the people who introduced it are gunning for women’s right not just to abortion but to use contraception, and as such, the bill should be considered an attack on women’s rights and treated with the contempt it deserves. I’m entirely unsure why it’s assumed that the default vote on any bill—even those introduced by the far right that have ill intentions towards women written all over them—is yes unless you can come up with a compelling reason to say no. Why not make the baseline a no that has to be turned into a yes?

Like I said before, the right wingers pushing this BAIPA thing are objectively freaky people, so put the spotlight on them and turn that unsavory shit around. Jill Stanek is continuing to push the idea that the “comfort room” at the hospital she worked out was made so that babies could be left to die in an environment that makes people feel better about it. All sane people can see that it’s there to comfort people who’ve lost wanted pregnancies and babies, but in her mind, the fact that comfort is offered to grieving parents is an admission of some kind of guilt. Because, in the anti-choice mind, doctors aren’t providing care to women, they’re man-handling their bodies for pay, and women only consent to it because they’ve been poisoned by feminist ideas. In that worldview, it’s impossible for a hospital that provides abortion care to women to act out of compassion to women, and provide something like a comfort room. It has to be some kind of plot so they can get away with something.

That’s the sort of crazy you can take to the bank. To make it worse, Stanek posted pictures of the boxes containing the remains of the fetuses that are in the comfort room so the parents can say goodbye. She simply doesn’t allow that people who have to go through the trauma of late term abortions are human beings, and so she stomps all over their feelings without regard for them.

The campaign “for” McCain is shaping up mostly to be against Obama, which might work, of course, so we shouldn’t get all relaxed about it. That said, I’m beginning to wonder how the whisper campaign is going over with the mushy middle. Most of it seems to go straight past believable whispers and right towards patently absurd claims, such as the claim that he’s okay with infanticide. Salon has a really good article today on the whisper campaign, based around analyzing two of the many emails out there that try to scare the readers about Obama’s fictional religion and actual race. One of them is more dangerous than the other, because it exploits a confusion that even smart, well-meaning people can have about racism, namely that talking about race=racism, because it makes people uncomfortable. But what about the other one, that is nothing but paranoid ranting? Will that affect any but the 25%-ers, the ones who worry about fluoride in the drinking water and still hold a grudge about Chappaquiddick?

I remain convinced that the only way to keep this kind of paranoia from spreading from the right and infecting the middle is for Obama to come out swinging. Waffling, as the BAIPA debacle has shown, only puts doubt in people’s minds.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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