On the Rolling Stone cover controversy, it’s worth considering how they have previously depicted people they didn’t like on their covers.
Patrick, the two year old son of a Secret Service agent who served under George HW Bush, developed leukemia. His prognosis is good, but there will be difficulties in the years ahead. More than a dozen of Patrick’s dad’s former coworkers shaved their heads in solidarity. Including former President Bush.
The sides often don’t name or state accurately the incandescent things that they feel in their guts. They euphemize instead.
For the pro-choice side, if you listened to mainstream discourse, you’d think that abortion was all about “choice,” whatever that precisely means, or “women’s health,” whatever that precisely means.
The Great Unmentionable pro-choice issue is women’s sexual freedom and agency. It’s about the fact that women of all ages and marital statuses are having sex. They are having sex in a variety of ways, and consensually. They have sex for sex’s sake, and not for the sake of marriage or motherhood. Although they’re imagined as promiscuous, most have sex in relationships. Many enjoy sex. Their male counterparts enjoy this lifestyle, too.
But sexual agency and freedom, expressed as such, aren’t winning ideas these days. This animating passion is almost never elaborated bluntly. You don’t hear, “We believe that women’s sexual agency and freedom is a foundational idea of 21st-century society.”
Instead, pro-choice forces seek shelter behind choice and women’s health, and invoke the most wrenching, non-consensual cases of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest as examples, or emergency medical conditions where abortion is clinically required to save the mother’s life. Those cases are obviously important to include in the political repertoire.
But many more pregnancies terminated in abortion come about through consensual sex. Not citing those examples, and going instead for the non-consensual victims who “through no fault of their own” require abortion signals that we ourselves are mildly ashamed of women’s sex lives, desires, and agency, the forces by which many of us get pregnant in the first place.
For much of the pro-life faction, abortion is about faith, pure and simple. This group of pro-lifers has a faith-derived conviction about what constitutes a life. This position has often been very obvious and prominent in the discourse, from the Christian Coalition onward. It’s notable here not for its obscurity in the debate, but for its intractability. Good luck moving people off of it.
Republicans would have had a much harder time in 2010 and 2012 had they been running against an Obama administration that had put job-retraining programs, the payroll-tax cut, and mortgage relief – perhaps along the lines of the proposals devised by Glenn Hubbard and his colleagues — front and center. GOP candidates would have no doubt attacked job-retraining programs as boondoggles, the payroll-tax cut as endangering Social Security, and mortgage relief as “paying for your neighbor’s mortgage,” per Rick Santelli’s now-famous call for a Tea Party. But this is the kind of debate Democrats, including centrist Democrats, would want to have, as it would unite their various constituencies, with the possible exception of some deficit-phobic, tax-sensitive upper-middle-income voters, while fracturing the GOP coalition.
Interesting results in a New York City mayoral election primary poll. Bill Thompson, the former Brooklyn Borough President and 2009 nominee, leads both Christine Quinn and Anthony Weiner in a one-on-one vote in a runoff election. He’s currently a close third in the polls. I remember speculation last year that because of his strong support in the African American community, Thompson was considered a shoe-in for the runoff, which he would then be expected to lose.