I have not been a big fan of NARAL's efforts of late. I've written of their ineptitude in hiring hack media companies to produce lame ads that seem to miss the entire point. I've not been alone.
But really, to actually claim that NARAL and Planned Parenthood are responsible for Alito's confirmation?
South Dakota has now passed legislation making it illegal for a woman to have an abortion even in the case of rape or incest. It's a law perfectly timed to test the new Supreme Court now that Samuel Alito has joined their ranks. How exactly did we get to this place?
Ask Planned Parenthood and NARAL.
They sat back, bilked their membership like an ATM then didn't show up to fight Alito's confirmation, frolicking in their mountain of hoarded cash even as they pissed and moaned. Worse yet, afterwards they told their members to thank those in the Senate -- like Joe Lieberman -- who cast their votes to let this happen.
Here's the problem with this logic: NARAL did not have a vote on that floor. Neither did Planned Parenthood.
For the better part of a year now, big sport has been made by A-list bloggers to kick NARAL and blame them for everything from John Kerry's election loss to, now, Alito's confirmation. When Kos does it, you can see the crocodile tears. After all, seeing a man who avidly endorses forced-pregnancy candidates actually whine and complain about NARAL's political tactics regarding reproductive rights is like listening to a deer hunter complaining about the WWF's ineffectiveness at protecting wild game.
But I really don't get the A-listers' front-page attacks on NARAL, an organization of limited effectiveness and little political clout.
Jane Hamsher gets this much right:
The conventional wisdom in Washington these days seems to be that the Democratic party will be just fine if it shifts dramatically to the right and "goes with the flow." NARAL was birthed by pioneering feminists like Betty Friedan who had fire in their bellies, but somewhere along the line they became an institutional behemoth who wanted to court the rich and the powerful more than they wanted to actually serve the cause that so many hard working Americans entrust them to do -- guard choice.
They began endorsing Republicans like Lincoln Chafee and giving money to Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Yet when the Alito cloture vote went down -- the only meaningful vote, which could've been stopped with 40 "nay" votes from getting to the floor -- all of these people voted "aye." People like Chafee and Joe Lieberman later voted "nay" in the final vote which only required a simple majority of 51. They then ran around and huffing and puffing about this coathanger-wielding like they'd done something really brave on behalf of choice. Nobody was fooled.
Well, nobody but Planned Parenthood....
...And nobody but NARAL, who said "Thank your senator for opposing Alito!" and then listed a whole slew of Senators who hadn't supported them on cloture.
But to claim that "NARAL and Planned Parenthood Are Now the Enemies of Pro-Choice"? At worst, they're guilty of bad judgment and political ineffectiveness.
The enemies are the politicians who cast the deciding votes. The enemies are the activists who try to marginalize women's control over their own bodies as a "pet cause." The enemies are the political bloggers who push candidates like Casey in PA in primaries and attack (using Republican talking points) those who don't agree with them.
Kicking NARAL may offer some short-term satisfaction, and stir up some controversy. But it won't accomplish much of anything. The problems are the politicians -- the so-called "pro-choice" Republicans who have yet to vote to protect equal rights, and the so-called Democrats who seem to love voting with the Republicans.
"Pro-choice" doesn't count if they don't vote it.
"Democrat" doesn't count if they don't vote it.
That's where the problem is. And at this point, NARAL is at worst simply irrelevant.