Peter Lawler is of course right about the 2012 Democratic platform’s provision on abortion. It is about as far on the pro-choice end of the policy spectrum as you can get. It also happens that President Obama is, and always has been, very far on the pro-choice end of the spectrum. His positions on partial birth abortion and the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act are just waiting to be used. These kinds of issues are perfect for well produced, persuasive media for changing people’s perceptions of the Democratic Party and the incumbent. A simple question by Rick Warren put Obama on the defensive. But the Republicans have refused to play a winning hand on these issues.
John McCain was all too glad to run a culture war campaign against Obama. It is just that McCain wanted all the bitterness of a culture war fight without the bother and principle of culture war issues. So it was hockey moms and rural/exurban identity politics. Romney is trying to stay focused. Judging by his convention speech, focused means complaining about the economy, reassuring us that he loves his immediate family (for those possibly nonexistent people who were staying up nights worrying about that), not dividing us with talk about real policies, and hoping that the Bureau of Labor Statistics awards him a narrow win. It might work out for Romney, but this is not making the best of the situation or maximizing his chances of winning.
By the end of this week, tens of millions (and probably a majority) of voters will have no idea of Obama’s record on partial birth abortion or the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. They will have no idea of how much Obama proposed to cut Medicare in his latest budget proposal or the centralized government board he proposed to implement those cuts. But we will have warm memories of that rose that George Romney used to give his wife. What is Romney trying to do here? Is Romney under the impression that radical pro-choicers, central planning enthusiasts, and supporters of allowing newborns to die are going to vote for him? There is a point where risk-averse cynicism veers off into self-destructive madness.