NARAL vs. Roberts
After a wide variety of people cried foul, the National Abortion Rights League / Pro-Choice America decided to stop showing a television ad that suggested that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts once condoned violence against abortion clinics by the likes of Randall Terry. This ugly slur was based on a terribly slanted misreading of a legal opinion Roberts filed in the early 1990s. Dana Milbank examined the political miscalculation behind this ad in the Washington Post. She quotes two leading Democratic activists, Robert Shrum and Chris Lehane, as expressing disappointment in NARAL's retraction, since they think that the ad was an appropriate retort to the "Swift Boat" ads against John Kerry last summer. Their hardball, eye-for-an-eye style of politics seems to be backfiring, however, as Milbank pointed out:
Some Democratic operatives say their trouble is congenital. "The problem is our politically impractical insistence on always residing on the moral high ground," said Jim Jordan, who was a longtime adviser to Kerry. "A large part of our ethos goes to what we perceive to be moral superiority and the sad truth is in politics that's sometimes inconvenient."
Blinded by self-righteousness into self-delusion, perhaps? FactCheck.org reported that the NARAL ad was "false" and "misleading," but it also called the Swift boat ads of last summer "dubious." From a purely political perspective, it's hard to understand why the Democrats and their associated interest groups would spend so much political capital attacking a Supreme Court nominee who is so eminently qualified and moderate in his thinking and tone. A cartoon by Mike Lane in today's Washington Post offers one explanation as to why they keep "hitting themselves on the head." [revised link]