Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A change in substance or spin?

I noticed today on Meet The Press, that Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Conference, was taking great pains to point out that if Roe v. Wade was overturned, it wouldn't outlaw abortion, only throw it back to the states to decided what to do. That wasn't overly strange, since MTP is beamed into middle America every Sunday and Land has a history of being a moderate face on the evangelical Right.

But if you combine that with Pat Robertson saying,"The elimination of Roe v. Wade won't stop abortion. Abortion's a private decision. But I just think it shouldn't be federalized." on CNN's Late Edition on Sunday then you get something interesting. Two big names in the evangelical movement changing their talking points on the same weekend. Too much of a coincidence for me.

That means the Christian Right is changing its message on Roe v. Wade (abortion). Much like the environmental groups, the pro-life campaign has been hammering the same drum for too long. A strong majority of Americans, while personally torn over abortion, do support a woman's right to have the procedure. The "save the babies" and the "biggest holocaust in history" message is not having the desired effect.

So what could this mean?
  • Spin- It could simply be spin. Reframing and rephrasing the debate to make it easier to sell to the American public. Not unlike Democrats now calling themselves progressives rather than liberals. This is just the same bird in different plumage.

  • Change of strategy- Major Christian Right leaders have given up on getting any change in Washington, D.C. and want to take the fight to the states. After being sold down the river on Roberts and now Miers, maybe the Christian Right is realizing that Republicans have been playing them for quite some time. That Bush is not the man they thought he was (or wanted him to be), but instead has just used their concerns to further his political career and further enrich Republican supporters. Maybe the leaders have caught on that Republicans don't want to outlaw abortion because that would de-mobilize much of their base. I could see the leaders being fed up with Washington Republicans and want to bring the fight to the states where Dobson et al have a strong following and don't have to compete for attention with Big Business. Of course, the downside is that America doesn't look too kindly on people of one state having rights that people of another state don't have. But if the state by state strategy works for gay marriage, maybe abortion would fit there too.

  • Change of conviction - While the least plausible, it could be that the Christian Right's leaders really do recognize that abortion is a private decision. They could have changed their conviction about abortion being "biggest holocaust in world history" and instead want to focus on prevention and adoption.

I believe this is just spin, but what do you think?