|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
tupak-Pitts isn't just "the biggest restriction on women's right to choose in our generation," as Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado puts it; it's also evidence that on abortion the Democratic Party is now captive, just like the GOP, to Christian conservatism. Of course, Republicans traded away their party's moderate wing for real electoral gains, a base that propelled them to power for decades. The Democrats, already in power, sucker-punched themselves, and all they have to show for it is a big fat shiner in the shape of Bart Stupak's knuckles.
But if Stupak, a former state trooper from Michigan, provided the muscle, his partner, Joe Pitts -- a Pennsylvania Republican with decades in the trenches of the antiabortion battle -- may have brought the brains, and more, a new Christian right coalition custom tailored for the Democratic Party's growing religious conservatism. Stupak is Roman Catholic; Pitts is evangelical. Both are members of the predominantly evangelical organization called the Family; Stupak lives in its C Street house. Together, they're poster boys for the evangelical/conservative Catholic alliance known as "co-belligerency," a culture war strategy designed to take territory within the Democratic Party as well the GOP.
Stupak, the Democratic co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, insists that his amendment does nothing more than ensure that the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of federal funds for abortions, is carried over into healthcare reform. Even some of Stupak's angriest critics within the party concede that Stupak might actually believe that -- nobody has ever accused him of being a subtle legislator. (Though Stupak himself, long known for his amiability, now boasts that he was hiding his "wolfiness" all along.) But the facts are plain: Stupak-Pitts will use the Hyde Amendment as a lever with which to radically roll back abortion rights, effectively strong-arming private insurers -- most of which will be enmeshed with the federal government now -- into abandoning coverage for abortions.
Hamsher compared the current situation to the 1994 elections, when, she said, the Democratic base (including union members) was demoralized and disengaged following the passage of The North American Free Trade Agreement. Republicans took control of both the House and Senate in that contest.
She argued that the Obama administration is paying little attention to its base even as the opposition gins up support among the Republican base with events like the Tea Party protests.
"If you're suppressing your base, and the other side is revving up theirs, and midterm elections are all about turning out the base, I sort of question what their strategy is here," she said.
Hamsher has signed on to a financial boycott of the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America (the DNC-run operation to mobilize Obama supporters) and the Obama campaign. The boycott was organized by Americablog's John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay over what they see as President Obama and his party's failure to keep its commitments to the gay and lesbian community.
"LGBT Americans, our families, and our friends kept our promise at the ballot box, we now expect President Obama to keep his in the White House," they wrote. In addition to Hamsher, cosponsors include the liberal blog Daily Kos, writer and editor Dan Savage and radio host Michelangelo Signorile.
The boycott will be lifted, Aravosis and Sudbay write, when legislation is signed enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama pledged action on all these issues but has not pressed them since entering office.