The Dems’ Playbook Is Getting Stale

Joe Klein is struck how Democratic candidates have “emphasized women’s issues–equal pay, parental leave, abortion rights–in the hope of luring undecided, independent women to the fold”:

[Campaigning on women’s issues] has been effective and still may be–but it has never before carried the electoral burden that it does this year. The alleged toxicity of Barack Obama has made it unsafe for Democrats to discuss much else.

The party was boosted by the failed Bush wars in 2006, 2008 and 2012, but Democrats have been boggled by what to say about ISIS in 2014. They’ve had no significant new ideas, foreign or domestic, on offer. And they’ve been too afraid to tout Obama’s complicated successes–the stimulus package that prevented a depression, the health care plan that may actually be working, and relative order at the border (a result of many years of security enhancements and a diminished flow of illegals during recent rough economic times). The argument on women’s economic issues is strong. It remains to be seen whether baby boomers who boast remarkable three-month, 3-D sonograms of their grandchildren will be quite so militant about abortion rights in the future. The fate of women’s issues, in the South and elsewhere, will have an impact on whether the party has to start rethinking its message going forward. It may not be able to count on Republicans’ continuing their boorish ways. Unless, of course, the conservatives win and overread the results this year.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown identifies why the Democrats’ War on Women demagoguery isn’t working very well:

As many political strategists, writers, and pundits have noted over the past few weeks, issues like birth control and abortion simply rank low among the list of current concerns for female voters. This likely isn’t an expression of how important women consider their availability—the vast majority of American women will use birth control in their lifetimes and one in three will have an abortion—but the fact that they genuinely aren’t pressing political matters right now at Congressional level.

The federal Life at Conception Act—which several Democrats have used as a cudgel against GOP opponents who did (Gardner) or do (Ernst) support it—has about as much chance of being enacted as your dog does of becoming president; it would take passing both chambers of Congress with two-thirds support and ratification by 75 percent of state legislatures. And as George Will noted in a recent Washington Post column, “access to contraception has been a constitutional right right for 49 years” while “the judiciary has controlled abortion policy for 41 years.”

The idea that this country will ban birth control entirely or amend the Constitution to define fertilized eggs as people is simply not plausible.