The Democratic Party's Polarizing Convention
Four lasting impressions remain from the Democratic Convention in Charlotte: (1) Delegates raucously booing the chairman's phony ruling accepting the amendment which put God and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel back into the official Democrat platform, (2) an obsessive focus on "reproductive freedom" -- contraception and abortion, (3) a disproportionate emphasis on "women's equality" in the face of a U.S. economy that is in crisis, and (4) rhetoric permeated with desperation, distortions, and demagoguery.
God and Jerusalem: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stood in front of the crowd of angry delegates to call for a vote as to whether to restore God and Jerusalem back into the 2012 platform. The rules required a two-thirds vote for this patchwork amendment to pass, but the yeas and nays were roughly equal. Finally, after three attempts to get consensus, the confused and perplexed mayor ruled as the teleprompter ordered him to rule, putting God and Jerusalem back in the platform. Obviously having been hoodwinked, the hall erupted in boos and jeers. Americans viewing the convention at home were astonished -- Democrats were actually booing and jeering God?
Who were these convention delegates of the party of Andrew Jackson who were so out of touch with everyday, God-fearing America? In the latest Gallup poll, more than 9 out of 10 Americans say they believe in God, and a near-record high of 63% are also in support of Israel. Why would the Democrats go out of their way to disavow God and disrespect those with deep religious beliefs about God? Equally amazing was the implied disavowal of Jerusalem as the capital and heart of Israel. What a shocking affront to the Jewish population, which has always been a major source of campaign funds and a voting bloc sure to vote for the president.
Abortion: For that matter, why would the convention go so far overboard on the issue of abortion? According to a recent Gallup poll, the percentage of pro-abortion Americans has now dropped to a new low. Last July, pro-choice Americans were at 47%, and now they are only 41%. More than half of Americans (51%) are now pro-life, only one percentage point from the record high. Close to 80 % of Americans (79%) also support restrictions on abortion. Just 20% side with Planned Parenthood and President Obama, saying all abortions should be legal. More than half (51%) still consider abortion morally wrong -- a figure that hasn't changed much since May 2011.
Although in numbers significantly smaller than Republicans, even a majority of Democrats support limitations on abortion: for instance, a 24-hour waiting period, the requirement for parental consent for those under 18, and the late-term abortion ban. There is no restriction on abortion in the Democratic platform, of any kind, at any time, including partial-birth abortions. Also, taxpayers must foot the bill, regardless of their personal convictions. There is also no acknowledgement, as there has been in the past, of a desire for abortion to be "rare."
The program in Charlotte was thoroughly, tiresomely, and unrelentingly pro-abortion. Prime-time speakers included Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, President of the National Abortion Rights Action League Pro-Choice America (NARAL) Nancy Keenan, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
Astoundingly, Sandra Fluke, an attractive 30-year-old Georgetown Law School student whose only claim to fame is her highly publicized demand that taxpayers pay for the contraceptives required for her obviously prodigious sex life -- given her estimate of the cost, when did she study? -- was a prime-time speaker, even though she has zero accomplishments to credential her for such a prestigious speaking slot. Her off-the-wall advocacy for taxpayer-funded contraceptives was a rambling, illogical appeal which did nothing to enhance the academic reputation of her alma mater, and her only purpose seemed to be to fire up young women (who already have free and/or low-cost access to contraceptives on nearly every block of America's cities) by demonizing those in the Catholic Church and others whose deeply held religious beliefs oppose contraception.
Women's Equality: Clearly, the Charlotte convention was targeted toward energizing the radical left base of the Democrat party, and especially single women -- an acknowledgement by the convention planners that single women are a key factor in determining the 2012 election, as they were in 2008. Before the convention, a USC Annenberg/Los Angeles Times poll showed President Obama 8 points ahead of Governor Romney among women (51 percent to 43 percent) and Mr. Romney ahead 4 points among males (48 percent to 44 percent).
Even so, it was jarring to see the Charlotte convention so heavily centered on the radical feminists' version of the "women's agenda." How could real male delegates not feel superfluous, uncomfortable, irrelevant, and confused? A Townhall columnist, Derek Hunter, called the convention "Camp Vagina" because, he said, there was a lot of talk about genitals but not much about fixing the economy. Erick Erickson, a well-known blogger and CNN analyst, recognized the emphasis on women by tweeting, "First night of Vagina Monologues in Charlotte going as expected."
Forbes magazine headlined its coverage of the convention: "Women Shape the Narrative at Democratic Convention." Forbes used a "social influence monitoring platform" called Traacker to see how four different themes were emphasized during the first two days of the convention. The project identified "women" as the major "general political influencer" with 75 mentions. Even when the project tracked Hispanic issues, it found that women were mentioned 44 times.
Clearly, the convention priority was to expand the gender gap and, as the Forbes project illustrated, construct a "narrative about how women play a major role in helping citizens achieve the American Dream and broaden the middle class." Some leading Democrats, former opponents and critics of the president, showed up and gave endorsing speeches anyway (most notably, Caroline Kennedy and former President Clinton), but more than two dozen Democratic leaders pointedly did not attend the convention. That vacuum was filled by women: the dozen or so Democratic women in the House were spotlighted en masse on stage, but as mentioned, it was high-profile abortion activists who were given prominent speaking slots, and seemingly every speaker talked about abortion (disguised as reproductive freedom), gender equality, access to contraception, and/or women's "rights." Convention talk was couched in terms of the threat that a Romney victory would set "women's rights" back and undermine all "gains" women have made in the past four decades.
By focusing on the top-priority issues of single women, especially "reproductive freedom," the Democrats are hoping to obscure the fact that women have been grievously affected by President Obama's economic failures. Naturally, nobody mentioned that the current White House pays its female employees significantly less than it pays men, nor did they mention that the number of unemployed single women in the U.S. has grown 12 percent, and there are 567,000 fewer women working today than when President Obama took office.
Desperation, Distortions, Demagoguery: While political conventions always present things in their party's favor, the Democratic convention was characterized by extraordinary desperation, distortions, and demagoguery. Several speakers stood out for all the wrong reasons.
Two high-profile female speakers were especially shocking. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that the Israeli ambassador had told her that GOP policies would be a disaster for Israel. When the ambassador denied her claim, she said "conservative journalists" were making stuff up about what she had said. But there was a recording proving her a liar. Caroline Kennedy, gratuitously claiming to be a devout Catholic, objected to the 40 states that have voted to restrict abortion under certain circumstances, thus proclaiming that her theological authority exceeds that of her church's teaching.
The nearly 50-minute-long keynote address by former President Bill Clinton was an astounding exercise in cognitive dissonance, at which he is adept (i.e., slickly worded assertions that contradict known reality), and President Obama's speech was a pathetic attempt to once again rally the base to support of the dreams of his father.
Given their disagreements and differences, Mr. Clinton as the convention keynoter was a "photo op" designed to "conjure the perception that the 44th president is much like the 42nd." Mr. Clinton claimed that Mr. Obama had "begun a long hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses and lots of new wealth for innovators." In spite of the total vacuity of the endorsement -- the reality is far different from his rhetoric -- Mr. Clinton created the illusion of a viable candidate and, indeed, resurrected the possibility of a second term.
President Obama's speech was universally panned; he used deceptive language and flaming demagoguery to try to counter the reputation he has gained as a radical extremist out to fundamentally transform America. Even if his dishonesty and deception alone might disqualify him for a second term, his incompetence and unwillingness to work with Congress to fix the nation's economy seal the deal. He said his presidency would be a one-term proposition if he could not turn around the economy in three years; the American public should hold him to that promise. Every aspect of American life would be worse under a second Obama term. There are no indications that he has learned from his first-term failures and numerous indications that he intends to continue the policies that have taken us to the brink of financial and social disaster. An American Thinker columnist put it this way: "If re-elected, Barack Obama will finally have the luxury of being himself, and that is something that should terrify every American."
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D. is a spokesperson for Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.