Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's Laura's turn

-- by Dave

You all remember last August when the Preznit paid a campaign visit to our neck of the woods to campaign for Rep. Dave Reichert, and he wound up inspiring a monumental fund-raising campaign for Darcy Burner in the process.

Indeed, on the strength of that netroots backing, Burner outperformed Reichert that quarter, and continues to do so even today.

Now we're getting another White House visit on Reichert's behalf, but this time -- no doubt realizing that the Preznit's presence actually inspires so much animosity that he hurts more than he helps -- they're sending out First Lady Laura Bush instead.

So there's a followup fund-raiser for Darcy to counter her appearance.

And if you needed any further incentive to back Darcy, let me replay that video from her 2006 debate with Reichert that I discussed when Bush was here last year:

The question arises -- because pharmacists have made it a legal issue -- whether pharmacists should be required to fill prescriptions that run counter to their personal religious beliefs. It's a real minefield of an issue, and the response of the typical triangulating Democrat in such situations is to offer up some kind of middle ground and namby-pamby their way around the issue.

But Burner doesn't mess around. "No," she insists, and then lays out clearly exactly why pharmacists have no business making moral decisions regarding the health of a patient because that's a decision for her doctor to be making -- someone who knows her medical history; indeed, someone who may be prescribing birth control mediciations for reasons (often hormonal) unrelated to contraception.

It's clear, direct, easy to understand, and a perfectly ethical position to stake out -- nor easy to answer. It's also heartfelt; you can see she is speaking as a woman, like most women, with some experience in this issue. Which may be why Reichert responds as he does.

First we see Reichert, early in the video, interrupt Burner, declaring "Yes!" loudly when she says "No," forcing her to wait to finish her response. Then, after her erudite reply, he has to ask: "Jim, what was the question again?"

The moderator, James Veseley of the Seattle Times, rereads it: "Do you think it is OK for a pharmacist to refuse to fill birth-control prescriptions for religious or moral reasons?"

Reichert again answers only: "Yes."

And that's it.

The paternalistic arrogance of that reply -- a simple insistence without any accompanying logic or reason -- really put Reichert's approach to minority issues, including most importantly women's issues -- on stark display. Just give 'em the ol' authoritative "yes" from the sheriff, and don't bother with explaining yourself. It's the John Wayne style of governance.

I have made a point of showing this video to a number of friends. The educated men I know laugh knowingly; but the response from women has been more interesting -- more visceral, more angry. They all know men like the sheriff. He reminds them of bad old bosses or bad boyfriends or divorced husbands.

Which, of course, fits rather perfectly with Monday's visit on Reichert's behalf by President George W. Bush -- who also tends to remind people of soiled relationships gone by.

Laura's visit is a de facto recognition by Republican campaign strategists that this is even more the case now. Reichert has been making gestures aimed at softening the reality-based image he's developed of being a Bush lapdog; and Laura lets him get the White House imprimatur without soiling him with the Deciderer's very messy actual presence.

It would be nice to make clear that it isn't helping.

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