Where most political operatives have seen disaster in Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments, the Susan B. Anthony List sees opportunity.
The radical anti-abortion group has $150,000 in ad time to spend in the state, and it’s doing so by pushing an ad blasting then state legislator Barack Obama for opposing the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act as evidence the President is “radical” on abortion. The goal, says SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, is to “balance” the conversation on abortion rights. “In light of the recent national discussion over abortion, itís important Americans know the Presidentís best-kept secret: his extreme record on abortion,” said Dannenfelser in a statement.
The motivation behind the ad is curious. President Obama’s record on abortion is anything but extreme, and really, SBL knows this despite this ad. And in Missouri, voters don’t need “convincing” on President Obama’s record on choice. It’s a deep red state where views on abortion rights are entrenched. Rep. Akin’s campaign against Sen. Claire McCaskill seems to be faltering, but Democrats cannot afford to get comfortable that Akin’s gaffs will amount to an electoral win for McCaskill. The group obviously supports Akin, so in a tight race why not come out with an ad that actually says so–unless there’s a different goal in mind.
The idea that the conversation on abortion rights is skewed to favor abortion access is, frankly, laughable. On the whole this country has widely accepted the principle that abortion access should be curtailed, whether through outright bans on the procedure except for rare exceptions in some instances to the hyper-regulation of clinics, the conversation now starts with the idea that curtailing abortion access is reasonable.
And with that presumption of reasonableness anti-choice activists have been able to chip away at the very heart of abortion rights. For SBL, a group that essentially believes in fetal personhood, this ad is trying to re-set, yet again, the standard by which “reasonableness” will be measured. This ad is not about electing any candidate, it’s about setting a narrative. The real question is whether the rest of the press goes along for the ride.
Photo from DonkeyHotey via flickr.