...semaphoring to hard-core abortion opponents...
October 11, 2004 5:51 PM   Subscribe

Speaking in TonguesCode --Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade and the Supreme Court and a President who signals his base in terms that fly over the heads of most of the country.
posted by amberglow (73 comments total)

 
This is an outrage.
posted by Witty at 6:08 PM on October 11, 2004


I am thoroughly outraged.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:09 PM on October 11, 2004


What a fucking coward. He doesn't have the balls to actually say what he believes, so he speaks in code....jeez.

In what possible way is the defendable?
posted by underdog at 6:12 PM on October 11, 2004


the = this
posted by underdog at 6:13 PM on October 11, 2004


Might it have had more to do with the fact that the Town Hall meeting was taking place in the same city where the Dred Scott trial occurred? I just thought it was Bush trying to make a clever historical reference.
posted by tss at 6:13 PM on October 11, 2004


Because, you know, Bush needs to hide the fact that he's pro-life...
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:22 PM on October 11, 2004


It starter on Paperwight's Fair Shot. Brad DeLong has an interesting point of view:
I had missed this. It sounds plausible. But it is also important to recognize that, as a strategic move, it didn't work. Those who know that in right-wing legalspeak Roe=Dred are already voting for Bush. Those who don't know saw him go incoherent.
posted by MzB at 6:22 PM on October 11, 2004


It's perfectly consistent, I think, to be against the reasoning behind Roe v. Wade and for a woman's right to abortion. I don’t think it is entirely ridiculous to compare Roe v. Wade and the Dred Scott decision, even though I believe the result of one decision is good and the other very bad.
posted by Doug at 6:27 PM on October 11, 2004


Not as outrageous as this but frightening nonetheless.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:27 PM on October 11, 2004


Well, it does have one nice side effect. To the uninitiated, it makes him look even dippier than usual.
posted by jonmc at 6:28 PM on October 11, 2004


Because, you know, Bush needs to hide the fact that he's pro-life...

But really, deep down, aren't we all?

Who cares? What is the point of this post?
posted by Witty at 6:30 PM on October 11, 2004


I don’t think it is entirely ridiculous to compare Roe v. Wade and the Dred Scott decision, even though I believe the result of one decision is good and the other very bad.

You know, the supposed reasoning of this is that Dred Scott was a politically motivated decision not in keeping with the constitution. But I'm not convinced this is accurate. When the constitution was written, slaves were property, and were explicitly worth 3/5th of a person in terms of population count. And Dred Scott was overturned by a constitutional amendment - that is, by changing the constitution. So to say it was out of line with the constitution seems simply like wishful thinking about how perfect and sacred the constitution was. Yeah, the decision was disgusting, but we know that through our ability to judge, our capacity to think and reflect on things - not through a noble, but as all things human, flawed, document.
posted by mdn at 6:48 PM on October 11, 2004


Exactly. Dred Scott was a strict constructionist decision. You can can find out such by reading the decision online:

It is not the province of the court to decide upon the justice or injustice, the policy or impolicy, of these laws. The decision of that question belonged to the political or law-making power; to those who formed the sovereignty and framed the constitution. The duty of the court is, to interpret the instrument they have framed, with the best lights we can obtain on the subject, and to administer it as we find it, according to its true intent and meaning when it was adopted.

posted by raysmj at 7:09 PM on October 11, 2004


I knew Bush used Biblically loaded "code words"* to communicate his, um, piety, but this goes way overboard. It would also explain how he managed to remember this particular court case.

*(example: "we can see the valley below" reminding The Faithful of Joshua looking out over Israel before crossing the river to kill everyone)
posted by ilsa at 7:19 PM on October 11, 2004


Witty missed my sarcasm. And that, I think, is irony.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:26 PM on October 11, 2004


No, Dred Scott was a bad decision because it gave a property right recognized in some states supremacy over other states rights to not recognize that property. To give an example why this is bad, it would be like being able to own and operate a radar detector in Rhode Island, and then crossing the state line into Connecticut, still using it there, and saying the Connecticut authorities have no right to prevent you from using it, no matter how long you reside in Connecticut, because you bought the radar detector in Rhode Island where it is legal. The decision basically said that one set of state's laws (slave states,) were extra-territorial, and another set of states (free states,) were not supreme within their own jurisdictions. It really was a departure from previous precedent, and was by no means constructionist.
posted by Snyder at 7:33 PM on October 11, 2004


But really, deep down, aren't we all?

We would be, except that the term is a meaningless creation of anti-abortion activists.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:35 PM on October 11, 2004


The question isn't, is dred scott a good analogy, the question is : does George Bush talk in code to the religious right to get their votes.

Those of us who read the newspapers, reports on human rights (posted by Amberglow), know that GWB is within striking distance of overturning R.v. W. Do the neocons want to over-turn R.v. W.? I'm not sure. But they are whoring themselves to the R.R.

They are playing with fire, and a lot of us could get burned.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:49 PM on October 11, 2004


I might not agree with Karl Rove/the Bush campaign, but I gotta give them some credit for being so adept at constructing a public image.

The hot swing vote of this election cycle is the "security mom," along with women in general--the majority of whom support a woman's right to choose. In the 2nd debate, when asked point-blank about abortion, Bush makes some fairly centrist comments on abortion, e.g., "This is an issue that divides America, but certainly reasonable people can agree on how to reduce abortions in America."

The Bush campaign realizes that the margins in this race are going to be razor-thin, and abortion can be an especially polarizing issue. They found a way to reassure their base with code words, yet keep up a public image of even-handedness.

Sounds Straussian.
posted by LimePi at 7:51 PM on October 11, 2004


The "high concept" forced analogy between Dred Scott and Roe is that "persons" were denied equal protection of the laws by order of the U.S Supreme Court: Mr. Scott and the Roe fetus. This non-dispositive analogy has been bruited among anti-abortion lawyers for a bit.

Mr. Bush was signifyin' to The Base by invoking Dred Scott. It was a less-than-adroit job, however.
posted by rdone at 7:52 PM on October 11, 2004


Mmm...being someone who hangs out with plenty of conservative folks, I disagree that abortion is the issue over which Bush was trying to reassure his base with the Dred Scott reference. Every conversation I've heard lately dealing with conservatives' infatuation with strict constructionism wasn't about abortion; it was about same-sex marriage. (Even so, IANAL, YMMV, blah blah blah.)

Another point of disagreement; from the article:
Now, don't get me wrong. Religious faith can be a very fine thing. Some of my best friends believe in God, and some of their best qualities derive, at least in part, from their faith.

:: CRINGE :: When I read that, all I can think of is "No, really, I have some very close black/Jewish/gay friends, and they're fine people. Really. No lie. I'm not prejudiced!"
I'm a Christian who thinks Bush is full of shit, but Mr. Noah's not winning many points with his sloppy reassurances about his own high-minded acceptance of religious friends.
posted by ChrisTN at 8:22 PM on October 11, 2004


Guys, do you really think this is the case? Is the simple geographic reference I suggested earlier really implausible in the face of this secret code? The Old Courthouse, which was the site of the Dred Scott trial, is a prominent landmark in downtown St. Louis; it stands in the shadow of the Gateway Arch and often appears in photographs meant to "say" St. Louis. Any kid growing up in the metro area learns about the Dred Scott case from the third grade on, often in the whirlwind of Lewis and Clark and George Caleb Bingham that serves as exposure to Missouri history.

Do you really, really believe that George W. "Internets" Bush was trying to use secret messages to communicate to a select few core voters who were surely going to vote for him anyway, rather than hit on a local historical keyword that lends him a touch of commonness with residents of a major urban area in a swing state? Are you positive that this is different from the faux-folksy Miz-zur-uh (which, incidentally, next to nobody in St. Louis says) he used so gratingly during the debate? Really, using this secret code could only lose votes for W by scaring off moderates who are somehow "hep" to the "lingo".

</incredulous>
posted by tss at 8:31 PM on October 11, 2004


Really, using this secret code could only lose votes for W by scaring off moderates who are somehow "hep" to the "lingo".
How would we be hep to the lingo at all unless it was being explained to us? I thought it was just another off-the-wall Bushism, not a message to his base (something they're obviously still worried about). It's a pattern with Bush too--this is not the first time, especially concerning abortion.
posted by amberglow at 8:40 PM on October 11, 2004


and, why would he make a reference only knowledgable to St. Louis people when the debate is national? It's not a stump speech, and the question he was asked was about appointing justices. Why bring up a really bad Supreme Court decision concerning slavery, risking even more moderate votes?
posted by amberglow at 8:42 PM on October 11, 2004


Just to give a little balance to this discussion: as far as I'm concerned, overturning r.v.w. is the only reason to vote for Bush over Kerry. I do not support the actions of the violent fringe, but I do believe that abortions-of-convenience are morally wrong.

I also think the war in Iraq is wrong, and that over a thousand dead soldiers is enough to damn a Texan to a place worse than Texas (and even worse than South Dakota, if that's possible). I think Bush is a fool who does more harm than good to the country, and I think we'll be worse off in four years if he's re-elected president.

However, a thousand military deaths pales in comparison to millions of abortions. I'll bet that Sandra Day will wait another four years to retire if Bush gets re-elected, but there's always the hope of a catastrophic accident... (OK, I'm kidding about death-wishes for any of the supremes, but none of them are spring chickens. Even if they don't retire, they'll all kick the bucket some time.)
posted by terceiro at 8:51 PM on October 11, 2004


When he makes those references about gynecologists 'loving' their patients, and him, 'loving' the woman who had lost the son, that is also fundamentalist christian speak.

It sounded totally insane to me, until a friend of mine who is an ex fundamentalist christian explained that that's Christian speak for 'bringing close to Jesus'.

I think there are a lot of secret Christian references, or maybe they aren't so secret, because maybe it's how he talks because he is a fundamentalist Christian...
posted by goneill at 8:59 PM on October 11, 2004


only knowledgable to St. Louis people because MO, is a swing state, if he were to win big in St. Louis, it would probably win him the state. He's appealing to the "Gee, he knows about our city! He's really clever bringing that up!" crowd, not necessarily a bad thing but it's like a rock band yelling out the name of the state. Bush gave shouts to Dredd Scott.

I also do not believe he's using the "code-words" as a sort of secret language, speaking to The Saved. It's not like Bush is sitting down and writing these himself on the way over there, this would involve a lot of people being in on it and actively putting words in there. Now I'm not saying that he doesn't slip little winks to the far-right, what I'm saying is that he's not intentionally excluding everyone else.

As more than a decade of Catholic education has warped me, there's a few phrases -- themes rather -- they like to kind of engrain in you. It's not so much a code, like for example "right to life", it's kind of a sum of the arguments they use (it's been awhile since I've been around that kind of group, so I might be wrong with how exactly "right to life" is used). More than likely, if he writes it or his speech writers put it in, they're simply referring to a topic/metaphor the only way the know how. I don't believe they're actively creating or using gnostic sayings just to appeal to the 5% who are going to vote Bush anyway.
posted by geoff. at 9:00 PM on October 11, 2004


And, why would he make a reference only knowledgable to St. Louis people when the debate is national? It's not a stump speech, and the question he was asked was about appointing justices. Why bring up a really bad Supreme Court decision concerning slavery, risking even more moderate votes?

I'm not sure it does risk moderate votes. So he won't install pro-slavery judges. I think that's pretty politically neutral.

Bush and Kerry were both referring to Missouri explicitly throughout the debates. I think I remember Kerry talking about the number of state citizens that lost health insurance since Bush entered office. Being well-versed in local knowledge makes you look smart and caring to the voters, even the ones who don't live in the place you're talking about.

But wait, you say, most people probably don't know that the Dred Scott case happened in St. Louis. This may be true. Still, Missouri is a swing state that looks like it may tip in favor of Bush. Where is the bulk of Kerry support in the state? St. Louis and Kansas City. That in mind, does it make sense to ingratiate yourself toward an entire metro area on national television, if it meant pushing the state a little further into the red? I'd say so.

I can't get this Dred Scott thing to pass the null hypothesis test. Were Bush not in St. Louis, would he have mentioned it at all? I just don't think that's likely. There's very little connection. Only in St. Louis could bringing it up not seem thoroughly random or strangely sinister.
posted by tss at 9:07 PM on October 11, 2004


terceiro: There are higher rates of abortion in Latin America, where abortion is largely illegal. Compare to rates in the U.S. and other western democracies.
posted by raysmj at 9:10 PM on October 11, 2004


Bush says a lot of thoroughly random stuff tho--people have written books about it.
posted by amberglow at 9:13 PM on October 11, 2004


My take on this when I heard it was that he had been prepped to make the local connection but screwed it up. Makes more sense to me than thinking he's trying to send secret messages to his supporters. Not that he doesn't use tons of code words - I just don't think this was one.

(You can't go anywhere in downtown St. Louis without people pointing out that courthouse and saying it was where the Dred Scott case was.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:19 PM on October 11, 2004


raysmj: so are you saying that by reversing r.v.w., the rate of abortions in the United States would increase? Do you really believe that?
posted by terceiro at 9:26 PM on October 11, 2004


what was the rate of back-alley abortions before Roe v. Wade?
posted by amberglow at 9:27 PM on October 11, 2004


tercerio: They wouldn't necessarily decline. Abortion rates are in large part a reflection of economics and education, etc., anyhow. If you're in favor of fewer abortions, you could do worse than to support the candidate whose economic and education policies appear more favorable to a cross-section of the population. You want someone in office whose policies are more likely to bring us greater Latin American-style income disparities? You should know who to pull the level or press the button or whatnot for.
posted by raysmj at 9:35 PM on October 11, 2004


I'm with ChrisTN. I heard the bit about judges needing to lay off the lawmaking, and immediately the GOP On-Message Receptors started going off - "legislating from the bench == gay weddings."

Maybe it's because I'm from Massachusetts. Two things to report from MA, by the way: my heterosexual parents are still fearlessly married, and the lefties are applauding our Supreme Court's properly interpreting the equal protection portions of our state constitution.
posted by bingbangbong at 9:56 PM on October 11, 2004


I also do not believe he's using the "code-words" as a sort of secret language, speaking to The Saved.

Boston Globe, How Bush speaks in religious code:
Aware that he must appeal to the center to secure reelection, he employs double-coded signals that veil much of his religious message from outsiders. Biblical references, allusions to hymns, and specialized vocabulary are keys to this communication.
Christianity Today, Bush's Code Cracked:
Few people know that this is why Bush's sentences are frequently fractured--this code is awfully nuanced, and frequently gets in the way of his speaking to others
Miz-zur-uh (which, incidentally, next to nobody in St. Louis says)

Thank you! Both of my parents are from southern Missouri, I've got a lot of kin there, and we've always said "Mizouree."

posted by kirkaracha at 10:20 PM on October 11, 2004


Odd pair of links, kirkaracha- the first is meant in seriousness, the second (from CT) is meant to parody the first- understandably, CT is not exactly a middle-of-the-road publication.

It does seem undeniable that this was a coded message, and not necessarily a pointless one- those who are basically one-issue, anti- women's- right- to- control- their- own- bodies voters, will recognize the code and be reassured Bush hasn't "gone soft" with all the wishy-washy centrist (or outright incoherent- that statement he made is rambling, even for Bush, until the rvw element is revealed) talk.
posted by hincandenza at 11:38 PM on October 11, 2004


I doubt bush even knew that Dred Scott happened in St. Louis.
posted by delmoi at 12:20 AM on October 12, 2004


It's not a secret code, it's how some very religious Christians speak.

The only way in which it is code is because you and I don't speak to these people very often.

It's like "New York = Jewish", "Bachelor = Gay" and all the words decent church-goin' women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces use.
posted by fullerine at 2:51 AM on October 12, 2004


> Bush says a lot of thoroughly random stuff tho--people have written books about it.

Then there's others who perceive Da Vinci Code hidden meanings in the random noise, and freak out.
posted by jfuller at 3:24 AM on October 12, 2004


The Old Courthouse, which was the site of the Dred Scott trial, is a prominent landmark in downtown St. Louis; it stands in the shadow of the Gateway Arch and often appears in photographs meant to "say" St. Louis.

Yes. And there's often a protester there, with a sign reading "Roe Vs. Wade & Dred Scott - Both Bad Law."

Equating the two has been a tactic of the pro-death[1] wing for years.

[1] Counting the number of terror attacks on health care factilities and medical practicioners, I can only assume those who are against Roe vs. Wade, are, in fact, supporters of death. [2]

[2] I'm tired of the right wing getting to play the language game, and the rest of the country not being allowed to.
posted by eriko at 4:29 AM on October 12, 2004


Who exactly would be stopping you? I'll have a word with 'em.
posted by jfuller at 4:34 AM on October 12, 2004


The point is that Bush is lying. It's naive to think that he doesn't know about the Roe = Dred linkage. And given that, it's a straight up lie.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:41 AM on October 12, 2004


Why does Bush need to send out his opinion via coded message? Nobody will be able to decode it, other than those who already "get it". Preaching to the converted.

I think discussion on abortion, in general, is sliding dangerously into an indifferent acceptance of mass abortion rates as the default point of view. We should be focussing on reducing the number of abortions to as few as possible, and as early as possible, not only debating whether it is right or wrong.
posted by SpaceCadet at 5:13 AM on October 12, 2004


Bush needs to speak in code to reassure his evangelical base without alienating the middle-of-the-road voters he needs to win re-election. I'm surprised this is so baffling to people. Politicians do it all the time, though I think Bush takes creepy public religiousity to an offensive new high.
posted by rcade at 5:52 AM on October 12, 2004


I think it's great, it shows he's trying to nail down his hardcore base. If you need to do that three weeks out from Election Day, you're in panic mode. He should be appealing to swing voters, not speaking code to True Believers on national TV. He knows he's screwed.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:55 AM on October 12, 2004


Witty, I think the point of the post was to explain why the President of the United States felt the need to mention the Dred Scott case -- something that I was unable to explain. My sister and I had a conversation about this exact issue and we couldn't explain it. The St. Louis angle makes some sense, but the statement didn't sound like he was just namechecking it -- he was implying that judges would make such ridiculous decisions again.

Neither could any of our conservative friends, so they must have left their secret decoder rings at home.
posted by mikeh at 8:21 AM on October 12, 2004


Anybody care to point out any particular moment in the past 4 years when Bush was NOT preaching to the choir using rote repetition devices (often extremely cryptic ones)?
posted by magullo at 8:34 AM on October 12, 2004


The fervor by which men manipulate the lives of women is astounding.
posted by four panels at 9:28 AM on October 12, 2004


The Lure of Fundamentalism
posted by homunculus at 9:32 AM on October 12, 2004


Thirty states ready to ban abortion if Roe overturned
posted by homunculus at 9:34 AM on October 12, 2004


SpaceCadet: I think discussion on abortion, in general, is sliding dangerously into an indifferent acceptance of mass abortion rates as the default point of view. We should be focussing on reducing the number of abortions to as few as possible, and as early as possible, not only debating whether it is right or wrong.

But abortion rates are down, are they not?

I know two people who just had an abortions and I can say that no single person views the decision to abort a fetus as a statstic in a quantity of "mass abortion" -- it is a difficult, life changing and even disturbing choice but a choice nevertheless. That choice does speak to the heart of any tie between Dred and R-v-W. That one person's view of "human life" differs from another's is at the core of a false relationship being crafted by the pro-life camp. The connection is not valid and is trying to equate the support of abortion rights to a support for slavery. Poppycock.
posted by Dick Paris at 10:03 AM on October 12, 2004


Wow...Burroughs pokes his beautiful mutant head into this thread...talk about working in mysterious ways! I'd give an hour of my internets-access to get the old guy's take on the current US administration.

Thanks, fullerine, for getting my hackles up in just the right way.
posted by red cell at 10:08 AM on October 12, 2004


Then there's others who perceive Da Vinci Code hidden meanings in the random noise, and freak out.

no, this isn't like that at all. It's simply that, unlike alan keyes, he's not going to proclaim hard core christian right wing views in language everyone gets, because that would alienate moderate voters. He will reassure the base that he is on their side, though. He's walking a fine line; if he appears too moderate, the base won't bother voting, or will vote for a "right to life" party alternative. Some anti-abortion voters would even vote Kerry b/c they prefer some other aspect of kerry (foreign policy, perhaps medicare/social security/etc., as tercero above suggested) if they felt that bush & kerry were equivalent on this issue.

What bush said by the dred scott thing is basically that he's going to put anti-roe v wade justices on the SC if the opportunity arises. That could be huge for anti-abortion folks, and it's not as if the reference is going to hurt his standing with moderates if they're not familiar with the reference to start with.

It isn't as if he has come up with some new code; he's just referencing a common vocabulary and series of claims. I have heard the dred scott comparison, or generally speaking, that abortion is like slavery because pregnant women are treating the fetus as property rather than as person. And I mostly hang out in liberal circles (I think someone made that argument on a forum I used to have on my website).

re: appealing to st louisians - why would a heinous decision made in their town be a source of pride? How would condemning it gain favor with the residents? That doesn't make sense to me...

re: banning abortion not reducing abortion rate - I don't see why it wouldn't - people with enough money and who are committed enough to the decision could still go get abortions in states where it's legal or by back alley docs, but it would be less socially acceptable, harder to achieve, probably more dangerous (it wouldn't be taught in many med schools, eg), etc. Overturning roe v wade would also open the door for implementing a national ban, as the arguments of roe v. wade would no longer be considered valid.

Re: poor women having more abortions than well off or educated women - I am not at all sure this is accurate. I think that poor/uneducated women tend to be more religious, and have less that will be interrupted or deterred by having a baby. I'm pretty sure I've heard statistics that the birth rate is higher among the poor. It's possible that the abortion rate is as well, of course, if the pregnancy rate to begin with is that disparate, but I wouldn't take this for granted.

re: dred scott, interesting re property rights across states. Of course, they didn't have radar detectors back then, and there were no drug laws... were there any other kinds of property that were legal in one state and illegal in another? Property rights were pretty central to legal theory in general (in europe as well) and the constitution in particular, so if slaves were one of very few examples of dispute in the legality of certain properties as opposed to certain actions, then the interpretation is neither surprising nor explicitly against the constitution.
posted by mdn at 10:13 AM on October 12, 2004


Only reason I can see Bush may be speaking in code. This issue can divide the Republican Party. The abortion issue also divides Christians families as it is. So if he is trying to speak to All the Saved, he may have pancaked himself with it. Unless they miss the message.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:21 AM on October 12, 2004


God is Not a Republican. Or a Democrat.
posted by troutfishing at 10:30 AM on October 12, 2004


why would a heinous decision made in their town be a source of pride?

Nobody said anything about pride. It's a local fact that makes Bush seem more clued into the region and, hamhandedly, makes some point about judicial picks. Besides, just like the witch trials in Salem are more a curiosity now than a reminder of the dangers of religious fervor, the Dred Scott case in St. Louis is more a historical and geographic landmark than anything else. Events like these seem to lose their gravity over time.

Kerry references the Red Sox all the time, but that doesn't mean he's proud of them. (KIDDING---yes I know they'll make it all the way this year.) It makes him seem like more of a regular guy.

Go Cards!
posted by tss at 10:35 AM on October 12, 2004


The fervor by which men manipulate the lives of women is astounding.

I can't get into this whole abortion debate because the presumptions some people make about my body makes physically ill, but I think this just bears repeating. Also, if you care so much about abortion, work on making birth control and *real* sex-ed available.

On topic, my vote: semaphore phore sure.
posted by dame at 11:05 AM on October 12, 2004


Also, if you care so much about abortion, work on making birth control and *real* sex-ed available.

What she said. Informative and practical sex ed in schools (not abstinence-only bs) would truly reduce the amount of abortions, something all "pro-life" people should be working towards, you'd think.
posted by amberglow at 11:09 AM on October 12, 2004


But abortion rates are down, are they not?

I think you're alluding to the US, right? Well in the UK, Australia and NZ, abortion is on the increase.

I know two people who just had an abortions and I can say that no single person views the decision to abort a fetus as a statstic in a quantity of "mass abortion" -- it is a difficult, life changing and even disturbing choice but a choice nevertheless.

I was really talking about discussions on abortions in general, such as this thread, which assumes the status quo is fine, and should be protected against any criticism. I don't think anyone can say a high number of abortions is a good thing, and so surely the debate should shift from the simple pro-life/pro-choice tired exchange and move to reducing numbers of abortions.
posted by SpaceCadet at 11:52 AM on October 12, 2004


Bush reassures the evangelicals because Karl Rove is convinced -- and has been for four years, talking openly about for that entire -- that 4 million plus evangelical voters stayed home in 2000, turning out at percentages significantly less than demographically-comparable non-evangelicals.

Kerry is at most two inches to the left of Gore in terms of the social issues of consequence to evangelicals, and Bush hasn't done anything in particular to move the ball forward on evangelical concerns (in part because he's had no Supreme Court vacancy to fill).

Thus Rove's beliefs regarding evangelical turnout demand an investment of communication and energy, regardless of the polls or trends.
posted by MattD at 12:25 PM on October 12, 2004


WHO HAS ABORTIONS?

"Abortion is common among women of all ages, races, and income levels; nearly half of all American women will have an abortion during their reproductive years.
• Sixty percent of all abortions are obtained by white women. The abortion rate for white women is lower than that for minority women; black women are more than three times as likely as white women to have an abortion, while Latina women are about two times as likely.
• Poor women are twice as likely as other women to have an abortion.
• Women of all religious faiths have abortions; Catholic women have an abortion rate 29 percent higher than Protestant women; and one in five women having abortions are born-again or Evangelical Christians.
• Women 20-to-24 years old have the highest abortion rate (38 per 1,000 women).
• Two-thirds of women who have abortions intend to have children in the future."

Rich women generally have birth control, sex-ed, and options. Poor women often do not. Addressing sex ed in low-income communities and increasing the income levels in those communities would go a long way toward lowering abortion levels, and seems like a reasonable goal for both sides to work toward.
posted by occhiblu at 12:42 PM on October 12, 2004


I don't know why so many people are laughing off the "code" accusation. This isn't the break-out-the-decoder-rings, Be-Sure-To-Drink-Your-Ovaltine kind of code, it's something much more subtle.

Imagine if mathowie was in a debate and when he was answering a question, he mentioned Pepsi Blue. Most people would say "huh?" but the faithful would know he was alluding to the idea of product placement being a bad thing. How would we know? Because we have a community where these memes build over time and become a verbal shorthand.

That's what "Dred Scott" is to the anti-abortion crowd. When George Bush says he would never appoint a judge that would support Dred Scott, he means he would appoint a judge that wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. No politician who is worth their salt and is hoping to appeal to moderates would say that outright. Bush needs to reassure the anti-abortion fringe that he may talk one game, but you should know where his true loyalty lies.
posted by turaho at 1:58 PM on October 12, 2004


from Wash. Post today: Listeners were puzzled when President Bush, in Friday's debate, said he would not appoint a Supreme Court justice who supported the 1857 Dred Scott decision justifying slavery. Nobody was expecting Bush might appoint a pro-slavery judge, so the remark seemed to be another case of quirky Bush speak, as when he referred to urban brownfields as "sore spots."

But, in fact, the Dred Scott reference was something of a coded message to abortion opponents, who have long likened the injustice of the case to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. The National Right to Life Committee has said the reasoning in the two cases is "nearly identical" and that "unborn children are now the same 'beings of an inferior order' that the justices considered blacks to be over a century ago." The Christian Medical Association has urged Bush "to emulate President Abraham Lincoln's opposition to the Dred Scott rationale."

posted by amberglow at 2:01 PM on October 12, 2004


Message to President Bush: Cheese it! The Washington Post is on to you!
posted by ilsa at 2:29 PM on October 12, 2004


WHO HAS ABORTIONS?

We can talk statistics and then we can talk actual cases. I personally know of two middle class women, well educated, who had abortions in their forties. One was my grandmother and one was my mother.

My grandmother had already had 6 kids when her husband, a Methodist minister, was diagnosed with brain cancer. A family friend, who was also her physician, arranged for her to get a "theraputic D & C." This would have been around 1952.

My mother was going through menopause, her kids were grown, and she was divorced. I know she always wanted more children, but I guess she didn't want to be a single mom at age 45.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:10 PM on October 12, 2004


Or my grandmother, who had one during the depression.
posted by amberglow at 4:21 PM on October 12, 2004


> I don't know why so many people are laughing off the "code" accusation.
> This isn't the break-out-the-decoder-rings, Be-Sure-To-Drink-
> Your-Ovaltine kind of code, it's something much more subtle.

What I don't grasp is how you folks figure the B-person can be so stupid (widely agreed around here) and at the same time so fiendishly clever--one might almost say Satanically clever--also widely agreed, if this thread is anything to go by.

Why, If I were that clever I would have gotten all of you convinced long ago that he's the Antichrist. And as you may know (or not) it's only a small step from calling somebody the Antichrist to thumping on a Bible while you do it.
posted by jfuller at 4:33 PM on October 12, 2004


it doesn't take cleverness at all--all it takes is being told to bring up Dred Scott when a Supreme Court question is asked. They're prepped to death--no cleverness required, obviously, given that it is Bush after all.
posted by amberglow at 5:25 PM on October 12, 2004


... how you folks figure the B-person can be so stupid (widely agreed around here) and at the same time so fiendishly clever ...

We put it that way because he makes no sense to us. In his own way, he is rather fiendishly clever. I don't think he's scheming and strategizing about this -- not very much, at least.

Bush is not a verbal man, but in his own way, he's a good communicator. He communicates in a sort of trans-rational manner. If you look at that passage from the debate [full text], it's barely comprehensible -- you have to make a series of assumptions to get past the mis-speaking and awkward syntzx to get to a supposed meaning, and even then there are at least a couple of ways to interpret it.

But the mere allusion to Dred Scott has great significance to people on the religious right. They know when they hear it that he's their man. He doesn't need to say anything that makes sense as language.

We know that GWB used to make sense when he talked, and we know that he no longer does -- or, at least, that it's no longer possible to get any precise meaning out of most things he says. I am more and more convinced that the reason for this is that he has less and less need, in his daily life, to speak with any precision. He can make semaphoric gestures, so to speak, and have the people who "matter" understand what he means.

It goes beyond abortion. If he wants Rove, he shouts "Where's turd-flower?" (if there's a problem) or "Where's Boy Genius?" (if he thinks he's got a clever idea). He doesn't need to say things that would make sense outside of his inner circle, because he's perpetually surrounded by people who understand his moods.
posted by lodurr at 5:54 PM on October 12, 2004


...so fiendishly clever...

I think the allusion above to "pepsi blue" is a great analogy. He's not being clever at all; he's just making references that only a certain portion of the population will be familiar with. If he had said outright that he would appoint a supreme court justice who would overturn roe v. wade, he would have caused an uproar among the left and energized women to campaign against him.

But by referring to it one step removed, so to speak, no one can accuse him outright of having made that claim, but those familiar with the anti-abortion right will feel assured that that's what he meant. And plenty on the left, as this thread shows, will dismiss the claim as paranoid or silly. But really: this is a very common argument. I have seen & heard it before -
check these out, e.g. - the first time, when the guy made the argument on my website, I was surprised because it seemed obviously the opposite to me - that women were 'enslaved' by not being able to keep control of their own persons - by having to become alien pods for unwanted progeny.

But this comparison is definitely out there, and the christian right knows what he means and will be motivated to vote and campaign if they might get the SC Justice they need to reverse abortion rights. As for bush, he's got 'plausible deniability'; women on the left won't be so energized if they don't know what he's referring to.

Thanks for the stats, occhiblu. not too surprising, now that I think about it. My anecdotal evidence is skewed the other way, but my pool of data is pretty limited.
posted by mdn at 7:41 AM on October 13, 2004


Bush v. Oprah
posted by homunculus at 4:22 PM on October 13, 2004


What I don't grasp is how you folks figure the B-person can be so stupid (widely agreed around here) and at the same time so fiendishly clever ...

In the same way that Charlie McCarthy could say clever things and still be a dummy. Bush has shown, through any event where extemporaneous speaking is required, that he can't think on his feet at all. The guy's proud of being anti-intellectual and claims that he doesn't even read the papers.

But he's no slouch at staying on message, connecting with voters in a relatively folksy manner, and delivering canned rhetoric like the "Dred Scott" code to the God squadders. If he had even one-tenth of Reagan's acting ability, this election would be a rout.
posted by rcade at 6:59 AM on October 14, 2004


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