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In 2004, Obama 'Felt a Pang of Shame' for Demagoguing Pro-Lifers

5:18 PM, Sep 4, 2012 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Charlotte
Cory Booker, the good-natured Democratic mayor of Newark, took some vicious shots at pro-life Republicans today by likening them to bigots during a Planned Parenthood rally outside the Democratic National Convention.

Obama Chesh 5

Elizabeth Cromwell

Booker said that while watching the Republican National Convention last week, “I heard people stand up and say, ‘I love women.’ I heard people stand up: ‘I’ve got a sister. I’ve got a mother.’”

“That’s like saying you’re not a bigot ’cause you have a black friend,” the mayor said. “That’s like saying I love Latinos, I go to Taco Bell every week."

"I don’t understand how somebody can say they love women," Booker said, "when they are denying women access to health care, when they are denying women strategies to protect their life, when they are implementing policies that undermine all the ground that we have gained." 

Booker's questioning whether Republicans really "love" women is all part of the Democratic party's strategy this week to demagogue, distort, and lie about Mitt Romney's position on abortion and contraception. At the Planned Parenthood rally, which drew a small crowd of maybe 300 people, Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee said the election is about "whether or not you can have contraception."

Sandra Fluke, Georgetown Law graduate and free contraception advocate, painted Romney as callous toward rape victims. "When he was governor of Massachusetts, he vetoed a bill that would have guaranteed victims of rape access to emergency contraception when they went to the emergency room," Fluke said. Romney, like Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, supported a limited conscience protection for hospital workers. Massachusetts Democrats tried to smear Brown in 2010 on this issue, but the attack backfired.

These lies and distortions are central to the Obama candidacy. Obama campaign TV ads continue to falsely claim that Romney wants to ban abortion in the case of rape. 

One has to wonder what the Barack Obama of 2004 would think of his 2012 campaign against pro-lifers. In his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama recounted how he felt a "pang of shame" for merely calling pro-lifers "right-wing ideologues" on his 2004 campaign website (words that are quite mild compared to today's "war on women" and "rape" rhetoric). Here's the excerpt from Obama's book:

Two days after I won the Democratic nomination in my U.S. senate race, I received an email from a doctor at the University of Chicago Medical School.

"Congratulations on your overwhelming and inspiring primary win," the doctor wrote. "I was happy to vote for you, and I will tell you that I am seriously considering voting for you in the general election. I write to express my concerns that may, in the end, prevent me from supporting you."

The doctor described himself as a Christian who understood his commitments to be comprehensive and "totalizing." His faith led him to strongly oppose abortion and gay marriage, but he said his faith also led him to question the idolatry of the free market and the quick resort to militarism that seemed to characterize much of President Bush's foreign policy.

The reason the doctor was considering voting for my opponent was not my position on abortion as such. Rather, he had read an entry that my campaign had posted on my website, suggesting that I would fight "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose." He went on to write: "Whatever your convictions, if you truly believe that those who oppose abortion are all ideologues driven by perverse desires to inflict suffering on women, then you, in my judgment, are not fair-minded. ... I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words."

I checked my website and found the offending words. They were not my own; my staff had posted them to summarize my pro-choice position during the Democratic primary, at a time when some of my opponents were questioning my commitment to protect Roe v. Wade. Within the bubble of Democratic Party politics, this was standard boilerplate, designed to fire up the base. The notion of engaging the other side on the issue was pointless, the argument went; any ambiguity on the issue implied weakness.

Rereading the doctor's letter, though, I felt a pang of shame. Yes, I thought, there were those in the antiabortion movement for whom I had no sympathy, those who jostled or blocked women who were entering clinics; those who bullied and intimidated and occasionally resorted to violence. But those antiabortion protesters weren't the ones who occasionally appeared at my campaign rallies. The ones I encountered usually showed up in the smaller communities that we visited, their expressions weary but determined as they stood in silent vigil outside whatever building in which the rally was taking place, their handmade signs or banners held before them like shields. They didn't yell or try to disrupt our events, although they still made my staff jumpy.

"I had the language on my website changed to state in clear but simple terms my pro-choice position," Obama wrote. "And that night, before I went to bed, I said a prayer of my own—that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me."

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