Change is NOT Coming to the Pro-Life Movement: Worn Out Rhetoric Greets Obama Appointments

Scott Swenson

Calendars everywhere read 2009, but in the "pro-life" movement it seems they are stuck in 2004.

Everyone is back to work from the holidays, starting a new year in anticipation of a new presidency, but the rhetoric coming from the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition is old school, retro, tinny, out of touch. Clearly they are having a hard time understanding the results of the past two elections, because they are stuck in their glory days of 2004.

According to the Washington Times:

Social conservatives and pro-life activists are mobilizing against President-elect Barack Obama‘s pick Monday for the No. 3 Justice Department job, a lawyer who aided the effort to remove Terry Schiavo‘s feeding tube during the landmark right-to-die case four years ago.

It is unusual for special interest groups to wage a fight over a
sub-Cabinet appointment, but conservatives eager to press the
Republican Party to mount some form of opposition to the emerging Obama
administration say Thomas J. Perrelli‘s
resume as a private lawyer and his appointment Monday as the nation’s
associate attorney general may provide the rallying cry.

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Rallying Cry? Really? 

The Terri Schiavo case in 2004 was a turning point for many Americans, when they began to see social conservatives for who they really were — meddlesome people who would use every court, branch of government and even have President Bush rush back to DC from vacation to sign hastily passed legislation — all in the service of rejecting individual liberty and privacy.

Then the polls came out. Americans watching the spectacle daily on cable news thought Michael and Terri Schiavo had clearly made the case that she did not want to live in a persistent vegetative state. 

Voters rejection of social conservatives on the Schiavo case wasn’t the only reason, but it was a contributing factor to the Democrats winning 2006 Congressional mid-term elections. 

But you wouldn’t know that listening to the stale rhetoric being used in 2009 to oppose Obama appointments to the Justice Department:

Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values
Coalition, derided Mr. Perrelli’s selection as "just another
death-peddler Obama has added to his list of nominees." She said he’s
earned the nickname among pro-lifers of "Piranha Perrelli" for his work
on the case.

Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs at the Family
Research Council, said several end-of-life issues could make their way
to the federal level in the next four years and having Mr. Perrelli at
the department means pro-life causes would have a tougher time winning
those debates."If the Justice Department isn’t going to do anything about it, the
states, what’s to stop them from cases like Schiavo and even worse
cases," Mr. McClusky said.

The Schiavo case is still raw for many pro-life activists, though
Miss Lafferty said some senators "are skittish about the whole thing."

 

They should be skittish. "Pro-life" leaders pushed conservative politicians too far on the Schiavo issue in 2004 and even Florida Gov. Jeb Bush started to retreat as the polling suggested Americans were not following their lead.  If social conservatives didn’t get it after the 2006 election, it sure would seem they could read the writing on the wall after losing overwhelmingly in 2008. The White House, Congress, and five ballot initiatives all went against social con values.

According to the Washington Times, other Obama Justice Department appointments that include David Ogden, a
former assistant attorney general and chief of staff to then-Attorney
General Janet Reno, to be deputy attorney general; Elana Kagan, dean of
Harvard Law School, to be solicitor general; and Dawn Johnsen, a law
professor and former legal director of the National Abortion and
Reproductive Rights Action League, to head the Office of Legal Council.

 

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