Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is walking a "minefield" on the abortion issue with recent hints that he's taking baby steps to the right on the issue. By doing so, he's risking the alienation of the absolutist activists in the abortion rights movement, Carrie Budoff Brown of Politico reported today.
But given Obama's much-reported efforts at courting evangelicals and other historic constituents of the GOP coalition, it certainly makes sense that the Illinois senator would seek to soften his image with pro-lifers to win over a few of them, or at the very least dampen the outrage among the pro-life community that might swell their ranks at the polls voting for Sen. John McCain.
Yet instead of considering how a potential problem at the polls for Obama and other Democrats in swing states might be abortion rights extremist activists, Budoff Brown painted Obama as facing danger by straying too far from the strict NOW/NARAL/Planned Parenthood line (emphasis mine):
For the past week, some activists in the abortion rights community have been trying to figure out why Barack Obama, a Democrat praised for his strong defense of reproductive rights, appeared to be turning soft.
Those who work on the front lines of the abortion debate couldn't quite believe what they were hearing: Obama, in an interview with a Christian magazine, seemed to reject a mental health exception to the ban on late-term abortions. They feared that Obama, like Democrat John Kerry in 2004, was adopting a view favored by abortion opponents to appeal to conservatives.
After days of examining his initial comments and a subsequent clarification that he supports a mental health exception - as long as the woman suffers a diagnosed illness and is not just "feeling blue" - some activists are satisfied, while others are far from it or just plain confused.
"That kind of statement really feeds into the wingnut argument that women have abortions because they are frivolous about that decision, because we are having a bad hair day," Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, said in an interview Wednesday. "There seems to be an information gap there."
The confusion comes at a politically sensitive juncture for Obama, as he attempts to build credibility and a comfort level with women voters and institutional advocacy groups, including some that supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. The timing exacerbated the concerns of these groups, some of which are still awaiting a personal meeting with the presumptive Democratic nominee: It followed a major push by Obama to court religious voters who hold positions at odds with these advocacy groups.
Who said the media don't find ways to criticize Obama? It's only that when they do so, it's by highlighting complaints from the left, and sometimes the more radical elements thereof.