UPDATE: The Reader's media critic, Michael Miner, misses the point of my column

UPDATE: Michael Miner responds to my response; sets off a comment war between his readers. Read it in The Reader.

Wow, Michael. Don't put these two in the same room together. I don't mean to start a war.

Original post:

Michael Miner sets out in his Reader blog to explain my column in today's Tribune, "The Politics of Rape and Abortion," to readers whom he suspects can't grasp the written word.

The point of my column was a response to the drumbeat of Democratic and liberal assertions that Rep. Todd Akin's views on abortion (ban all abortions, including those sought by rape and incest victims or to save the life of the mother) represent the views of mainstream Republicans. I cited polls showing that the charge is not true--Akin's views represent a small minority (22 percent) of Republicans.

Miner accuses me of failing to see the forest for the trees:

It's a telling statistic that allows us to marvel at Byrne's ability to miss the forest for the trees. The 22 percent include the Republicans' presumptive vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, and the authors of the abortion plank in the Republican platform.

Doesn't matter what mainstream Republicans think, Miner goes on. The GOP has been taken over by an extreme minority that will impose its will on all Americans. An odd thought, considering that Mitt Romney was not the candidate of that allegedly "extreme minority."* After all, he says, take a look at what the GOP platform says about abortion, quoting a selected portion of the plank. (See the plank's full text and the end of this post.)

He reasons:

Given what [Rep. Paul] Ryan says, and what the party platform says, and the lack of any reason to believe Mitt Romney would nominate Supreme Court justices who disagree, what difference should it make to an independent or Democratic voter what the majority of Republicans think? It's not their party; they just vote for it.

Flying in the face of reality, Miner figures  that Romney, now a captive of loonies on the right, will, for example, appoint Supreme Court justices that will turn America into a version of the Handmaiden's Tale, a ludicrously fanciful book that imagines what the country will become when (not if) white Christian males take over. (I thought they already had.) Appointing a justice who opposes Romney's own view of abortion (exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother) and who never would get past Senate confirmation is a non-starter, but it is a bogeyman that off-the-rail liberals such as Miner like to raise to scare the crap out of uninformed voters.

Democrats would have it that Republican voters are a nail-dumb herd that elect leaders that rule in their own self-interest and not the public good. Perhaps he's right, but that's a description that perfectly describes Illinois voters in general and Democrats in particular that have a habit of blindly electing such as Rod Blagojevich, Michael Madigan and the other grabbers and grafters.

Miner closes by referring to my questions about what Democrats will do at their National Convention next week:

"Will Barack Obama and Joe Biden disavow the extremist position of unrestricted abortions?" Byrne wonders. "Not a chance. Yet, Democrats will escape being labeled extremists."

Miner then quotes from the Democrats' 2008 abortion plank, which fails to directly address the question. It skirts it by saying: "...and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right." That squishy position enables Democratic leaders--funded by such orthodox groups as Planned Parenthood and Personal PAC of Illinois--to oppose such common sense and majority views as a ban on partial birth abortions.

For most voters, abortion is not the central topic of this election, but Democrats wish to make it so, latching on Adkin's stupid comments as "evidence" that "Republicans," even "mainstream" Republicans, are conducting a "war on women." That's a swell way of tuning up Obama's supporters, but a recent poll show that for most voters, abortion views are not a litmus test. Says the CBS poll:

A new CBS News poll, however, shows that most voters, Democrats and Republicans alike, are willing to look past the issue when it comes to supporting a political candidate.

As many as 57 percent of registered voters say it's possible they would vote for a candidate that disagreed with them on the issue of abortion, according to the poll, conducted Aug. 22-26. Thirty-four percent said they could not support such a candidate....

Most voters, 59 percent (including a majority of women), do not think Akin's comments reflect the views of most Republicans. But a quarter of Democratic women think Akin's statements represent the views of most Republicans, and they are strongly supporting Mr. Obama.

Nonetheless, Democrats and liberal media continue to try to make abortion an issue when it's clearly a diversion from Obama's problems with the economy, his overreaching policies and his governance. I expect this diversion to continue through next week's Democratic National Convention and the rest of the campaign. Miner seems only too happy to follow the crowd.

*For good insight of how Obama campaign--aka David Axelrod--is trying to paint GOP nominee Mitt Romney as an extremist, read John Kass' column this morning, "Romney is as extreme as grilled cheese and tomato soup."

The Republican respect for life plank:

Maintaining The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life

Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life.

We have made progress. The Supreme Court has upheld prohibitions against the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion. States are now permitted to extend health-care coverage to children before birth. And the Born Alive Infants Protection Act has become law; this law ensures that infants who are born alive during an abortion receive all treatment and care that is provided to all newborn infants and are not neglected and left to die. We must protect girls from exploitation and statutory rape through a parental notification requirement. We all have a moral obligation to assist, not to penalize, women struggling with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy. At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life. Women deserve better than abortion. Every effort should be made to work with women considering abortion to enable and empower them to choose life. We salute those who provide them alternatives, including pregnancy care centers, and we take pride in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.

Respect for life requires efforts to include persons with disabilities in education, employment, the justice system, and civic participation. In keeping with that commitment, we oppose the nonconsensual withholding of care or treatment from people with disabilities, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society. Because government should set a positive standard in hiring and contracting for the services of persons with disabilities, we need to update the statutory authority for the AbilityOne program, the main avenue by which those productive members of our society can offer high quality services at the best possible value.


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