Monday, April 18, 2005

Where the Senate candidates stand. All of them.

In today's Inquirer, Carrie Budoff (along with Thomas Fitzgerald), continues her evenhanded, thorough coverage of the US Senate campaign. I complain about the media as much as anyone else, but Budoff has now done a few really good pieces about this race.

Today went into the details of Bob Casey, Jr's stance on abortion, among other things. It shows an interesting contrast between father and son styles on the issue. For example, Casey, Sr. refused to endorse Clinton because he is pro-choice, while Casey, Jr. was active in the campaign for Kerry. And, I think the article correctly shows why I like Casey: He is pro-life, (presumably) because of his religious convictions, but when he says pro-life, he does not simply mean "pro-birth." And, while he does not pretend he is not pro-life, it is not the issue that defines him.

From the article:
Casey, now the state treasurer, has never made abortion a prominent piece of his public profile. He didn't call attention to it during his eight years as state auditor general, or in his campaigns for office, including a failed 2002 bid for governor.

Nor does he spurn abortion-rights proponents, as his father did on several occasions. Last year, Casey appeared in a TV commercial endorsing Democrat John Kerry, who opposed the federal ban on late-term abortions.

But Casey also doesn't equivocate.

"What I've said in the last month and what I've said in the last 10 years makes it very clear that I'm pro-life, and I always will be," Casey said.


"Someone who's pro-life does have a corresponding obligation to help the mother and child after birth," Casey said. "Too often, the issue has been framed in a more limited way."

Top Democratic leaders see Casey as their best chance against Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, who worked for eight years to help pass the 2003 ban on late-term abortions. To win the nomination, Casey must first get by Chuck Pennacchio, a University of the Arts professor who supports abortion rights.
A few interesting things: One, is that Pennacchio is now regularly mentioned as an opposition candidate. (Congratulations on that to Tim Tagaris, who has forced the hand of the mainstream media on this issue. I hope if I ever run for office I can afford a high price consultant duo of Tim and Ben Waxman. I would be set.) Second, I think Casey clearly comes across as a decent man. Someone who generally cares about the average, hard-working Americans who want a decent home, the ability to see a doctor when they are sick, and a good future for their kids.

But, and this is a big but, his aim to straddle the line with abortion gets him in big trouble. Because, apparently to Casey, the abortion issue is not about his religious beliefs, but about "biology," because he says "there's a life there." While this may be Casey's way of moderating his pro-life stance, he ruins it with this:
"Casey said he would, as a senator, avoid a litmus test on any issue in voting on judicial nominees. He would oppose expanding federally supported embryonic stem-cell research beyond 2001 levels. He would not require pharmacists to go against personal beliefs and fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives, which prevent a fertilized egg from implanting."
Science, eh? So you know no life is started for a few days after people have sex, right? Then why would you have problems with the morning-after pill, which simply prevents pregnancy from taking place? Pure, pure hypocrisy.

Furthermore, the idea that a pharmacist can refuse to fill a goddamned medical prescription is ridiculous. If they can refuse to fill a prescription for emergency contraception, can they refuse to fill it for normal contraception? Reeeee-diculous, and really scary. It should tell you something when Rick Santorum is the co-sponsor of the bill (with JOHN KERRY).

Casey wins by talking about compassion, about a return of poverty alleviation as a Democratic principal. He loses when he tries to skirt this line on choice. Especially when he tries to make this something it is not. This is about his religion, fine. But lets not pretend otherwise, because it only hurts him in the long run.

The article then finishes with a rundown of where Santorum, Casey and yes, Pennacchio, stand on many of these specifics. And while it was not included in the article, here is what Pennacchio apparently said to Budoff about abortion (from mydd):
"We can either choose to eliminate rights or improve lives, and I choose to improve lives. Nobody wants to see another abortion, but what we need to do is make our society a stronger, more supportive environment, in which women will have a real choice."

"The most critical question, the common ground question, is how do we reduce the abortion rate without criminalizing women and doctors? What we need to address, all of us, is how to give women a real choice by providing life affirming support in the form pre-natal care, post-natal care, and economic opportunity."
I include those last few quotes, because, more than anything else, that is the exact, exact right way that Democrats should be talking about choice.


At 2:08 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Thanks Daniel,

To be honest, we never forced the hand of Carrie Budoff or the Philly Inquirer. I think it was just a recognition on her part that there is a significant level of support for Chuck, both offline and online.

When I made my first call to her, she called back. We set up a meeting for her to talk with Chuck Pennacchio, and she came away recognizing that this was a candidate who had a lot to offer in this race.

Now, if we can get the Pittsburgh Post Gazette to come along. We may have to have another "Peter Jackson (AP) moment" with them.



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