Do you have your John Boehner Halloween costume yet? I know they’re not flying off the shelves of your nearest costume headquarters, but you’d never know that listening to Barack Obama and those who are trying to keep his party in power.
After Obama’s recent tour attempting to demonize the pro-life Ohio congressman, EMILY’s List has hit the trail, and perhaps your favorite liberal gal’s Facebook page. EMILY’s List, the political-action committee that exists to elect supporters of legal abortion to political office, is looking to make the sound of Boehner’s name chill-inducing enough to make you vote Democratic. “Don’t Let John Boehner and the Republicans Turn Back the Clock for Women,” their “Boehner’s America” website implores — indicating that this chronically dissatisfied interest group can’t even come up with new pick-up lines. In a speech to the Woman’s National Democratic Club, EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock announced: “John Boehner can only take the speaker’s gavel from Nancy Pelosi by defeating the Democratic women you and I have worked so hard to elect. And by discouraging women voters so much that they stay home on November 2.”
And with that, Schriock made clear that she’s not listening to what Americans are telling politicians. She’s taking her campaign strategy from the president, and focusing like a laser on making the House minority leader this year’s bogeyman.
Marsha Blackburn, a Republican congresswoman from Tennessee, throws cold water on EMILY’s strategy. “Women voters are fired up for this year’s election and will most definitely not be staying home on November 2, and there are at least 146 good reasons for this. A record number of Republican women have sought federal office this year — 129 GOP women in House races and 17 in Senate races. In 1994, another record-breaking year, 91 Republican women ran for the House and 13 for the Senate. How can EMILY’s List say that the party is running women out when more and more women are running? This is the year of the strong conservative woman, but because those women are overwhelmingly pro-life, EMILY’s List clearly doesn’t see them as good enough.”
Blackburn’s colleague Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R. Wash.), adds: “The type of women we are running — political outsiders who are moms, small-business women, women who up until recently never thought of running for office but were inspired to run because of the dangerous course [on which] President Obama and Speaker Pelosi are taking America — are threatening to the liberal special-interest groups who believe that to be a woman you must be a liberal and that conservative women candidates . . . must not only be defeated, but also branded as somehow anti-woman. This is absurd.”
Billie Tucker, a tea-party organizer from Florida, has no patience with Schriock’s attempt to keep the Democrats in power: “It’s not the number of women in Congress Ms. Schriock is really worried about. It’s the number of women with Nancy Pelosi’s behaviors that she wants to keep there.” Stacy Mott, president of Smart Girl Politics, adds: “The next Congress is going to get this country back on track because brave women have had enough of Speaker Pelosi and President Obama’s pandering, condescension, and broken promises.”
All of these women are people that EMILY’s List exists to drown out. But they’re being heard loud and clear. As Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List — the closest thing the pro-life movement has to an organized response to EMILY — says: “EMILY’s List has only dominated women’s politics for so long because it discourages female voter turnout of what they consider the ‘wrong kind of woman.’ That dominance is clearly on the wane.”
This election season points to a reality that hurts EMILY’s List at its core. There is “enormous consensus” on the issue of abortion, Knights of Columbus head Carl Anderson argues in his upcoming book, Beyond a House Divided: The Moral Consensus Ignored by Washington, Wall Street, and the Media. Surveys done for the Knights by the Marist Poll found that eight out of ten Americans “favor restrictions that would limit abortion to the first three months of pregnancy at most.” Additionally, Anderson notes that “53 percent of Americans would limit abortion to cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of a mother — or would not allow it at all. Among women, the number is even higher — 55 percent.”
In this election, according to Marist’s polling (which is consistent with CNN and other polling), EMILY’s List is playing to the less than a quarter of Americans who want abortion available throughout a woman’s pregnancy. Republicans, for the most part, seem to be playing to the consensus while being authentic to their principles. If 80 percent of us can agree on some restrictions, how about we start with prohibiting all federal funding of abortion? That’s a far cry from overturning Roe v. Wade, but it’s a start. And, by the way — contrary to the EMILY’s List scare tactics — a Speaker John Boehner wouldn’t have the power to do that even if he wanted to.
People are fed up with the scare tactics, because they are genuinely concerned about the future of their country. They know who they are. They know how to keep those who are supposed to represent them accountable. EMILY’s List does not speak for me; it speaks for fewer Americans every day. I understand that’s why Schriock and her friends are spooked. But there is no tricking voters this year.
– Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is available exclusively through United Media. For permission to reprint or excerpt this copyrighted material, please contact Carmen Puello.