Rebecca Traister calls it like it is (link requires subscription or free "day pass"):
Before the Roberts record began to embolden progressives to take a strong stand against the nominee, some pro-choice groups were alone in fiercely opposing him, and NARAL's stumble earned them the back of the hand from some (mostly male) Democrats. The popular blogger Daily Kos (Markos Moulitsas Zuniga) enraged feminist bloggers like Jessica Valenti (Feministing) and Amanda Marcotte (Pandagon) when he blogged, in the midst of the NARAL fuss, not about the ad, but about his frustrations with NARAL's "single issue" politics, and their single-minded devotion to what he called a "pet cause."
The dust-up exposed an ever-deepening fracture in the Democratic Party over how important abortion rights should be. It's come up in the debate over the Senate candidacy of Pennsylvania state treasurer Bob Casey Jr., who some Democrats think would be the strongest opponent to conservative Sen. Rick Santorum, even though Casey is anti-abortion. It's also emerged in a smaller-arena quarrel between Frances Kissling of Catholics for Free Choice and the Democrats' new religious guru Jim Wallis of Sojourners, especially after Wallis endorsed some limits on abortion in a recent New York Times Op-Ed.
The new comity over the Roberts nomination in progressive circles, and the growing consensus about opposing him, may demonstrate that liberals can fight these battles and still emerge united. That's good, because these battles are not going away. Not going away because we're precious about our "pets"? Hardly. Not going away because this is what it's all about -- equality, liberty, justice.
NARAL may have blown it on tactics:
NARAL was in big trouble. David Garrow, legal historian and author of "Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe V. Wade," said that given that Roberts is likely to be confirmed, "the most significant upshot of this whole nomination and confirmation process may be how serious a self-inflicted wound NARAL has suffered." He continued, "Many committed and experienced pro-choicers were outraged by the NARAL ad: Fran [Kissling], Walter [Dellinger], me, and plenty of others. My fear is that the depth of the reputational damage is such that it could not be cured by [NARAL president] Nancy Keenan's resignation or firing."
NARAL did not return calls for comment on this story. Kate Michelman, who stepped down last year after nearly 20 years as NARAL's president, would not comment on the ad except to say that "NARAL did the right thing in removing" it. "When you engage in a strategy and you realize that the strategy is not accomplishing your mission, you change strategies," she said. But the real story was not NARAL's communications strategy, or whose heads would roll after such an apparent blunder, but rather how NARAL -- and reproductive rights as a whole -- would be criticized, lambasted and thrown up on the sacrificial altar by many leaders, pundits and bloggers of the left, who would go so far as to accuse women fighting for reproductive rights of "destroying" the Democratic Party, and the left/liberal cause in general.
In the Times, columnist John Tierney wrote a piece titled "Pro-Choice but Anti-Naral," in which he railed against the organization's commitment to making abortion a civil rights issue. "The tactic makes for displays of solidarity like the March for Women's Lives, an occasion for denouncing male anti-abortion politicians and waving signs with that perennial slogan 'If men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament,'" he wrote. It was clear that Tierney was not simply angry about the ad, but about his perceptions of the women's rights movement as loud and emasculating; he painted them as damaging the greater good.
Nowhere was the desire to kick NARAL and its sisters while they were down clearer than on the increasingly heated, and male dominated, political blogosphere, where popular lefty blogger DailyKos used the ad dust-up as an excuse to vent his larger frustrations with NARAL for endorsing politicians solely because of their stands on abortion rights. "Until NARAL (and the rest of the single-issue groups) understand that building a movement is more beneficial to their causes than singular devotion to their pet causes, I can't take them seriously," he wrote on Aug. 9, the day after NARAL released its ad. This is not news to anyone who's been reading this or just about any feminist blog, or, for that matter, one of the Ã¼ber-blogs like DailyKos. And just to make sure nobody misunderstood....
Reached for comment about his remarks, Kos' Markos Moulitsas Zuniga was clear that he never weighed in on the ad itself. His beef with what he calls "single-issue groups" like NARAL is "with the insistence that their issue be ... the most important issue on the face of the planet. That is what's killing us." You can almost taste the resentment. Would he express such outrage if the Dems were putting forth open racists for public office?
"Coming out against NARAL so strongly was completely out of hand," said Amanda Marcotte, a blogger from Austin, Texas, who maintains the Pandagon site. "It spoke to me of a certain willingness on the part of certain so-called moderate liberals, left of center, all men, their willingness to throw out women's rights if they could win an election by doing that. They'd use the word 'compromise,' of course." Things seem to have settled a bit, and aside from a few goombas on DailyKos and elsewhere, the strident rhetoric against women and reproductive rights have settled a bit. Traister sounds off a hopeful tone at the end of her article. Me, I'm going to take a wait-and-see attitude, and see whether attitudes really have changed, or if the boys are just playing good, hoping it all just blows over soon so they can get back to the "important shit."
(link via DreamOfPeace at Our Word)