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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The real extremist? You be the judge

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

The problem with trying to paint a political opponent as an extremist and yourself as a moderate is that you create possibilities that the labeling could snap back and bite you in the gluts.

Especially if you have already established a voting record in the office you're seeking.

That brings us to Melissa Bean, a first-term incumbent Democrat seeking re-election in the northwest suburban 8th Congressional District. Bean brought this up herself because, running in a traditionally conservative district, she needs to portray herself as "in the mainstream."

Thus, her TV ad proclaims that she's the moderate and her Republican opponent, David McSweeney, is the extremist. To prove it, she unleashed that lame old hunting dog, "choice." There's some disagreement about whether she quoted McSweeney accurately to prove her point, but that's not the point here. McSweeney is undoubtedly conservative, perhaps even very conservative (although I don't know where one crosses the line between conservative and very conservative), in the mode of former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald.

But what about Bean? True, she has supported small business and the Central America Free Trade Agreement, winning her some business support. Indeed, on some issues the two aren't that far apart.

But come to the hot-button issue of abortion, which she raised and ... wow. She voted against the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which prohibits taking a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion without the consent of a parent or legal guardian. It protects children from exploitation by boyfriends and others who would pressure girls into having an abortion. It protects the right of parents to guide, protect and safeguard their children. It supports the time-honored concept, which left-wing extremists would unravel, of family cohesion and support.

Yes, yes, I know the tiresome response: You can't legislate love or good parenting. You can't bring back Ozzie and Harriet. You can't leave the decision in the hands of an abusive parent. You can't criminalize doctors who perform abortions.

Except: Doctors who treat your children without your knowledge or consent deserve to be treated like criminals. Even so, the legislation provides exceptions and judicial bypass for abused children. That's because we must prevent abusive parents from using this law against the best interests of their child. But most children's best interests are served when their parents are loving, informed and involved. What are such parents to do when their pregnant girl is further victimized by getting pressured to travel elsewhere in secret for an abortion she may not want? By male predators hoping that they can eliminate obvious evidence of their crimes? Who does Melissa Bean think is protecting them? Maybe that's why she doesn't mention abortion on her Web site.

You can't get more "extreme" than this. There is no political position to the left of it. Polls typically show that 70 or so percent of Americans surveyed support some form of parental notification. That's roughly the same percentage that wants at least some restrictions on abortion on demand, positions held by extreme pro-choice groups, such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Maybe this is why NARAL endorsed Bean, or she voted the way Planned Parenthood wanted 100 percent of the time, according to Project Vote Smart. Bean's not just a one-issue liberal. She supported the National Education Association on 100 percent of its issues, the liberal Americans for Democratic Action 80 percent, liberal American Association of University Women 100 percent, the liberal National Committee for an Effective Congress 80 percent and the Secular Coalition for America 90 percent, according to Vote Smart. On the other end of the spectrum, she voted with Citizens Against Government Waste only 29 percent of the time, the American Conservative Union 12 percent and Gun Owners of America never.

Of course, as a snapshot of who she is, that leaves an incomplete picture. But when you present a picture of yourself to the electorate, at least it should be in focus.

Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune


Stephen Schade said...

Mr. Byrne:

Poll results can change once an issue gets debated. The problem with abortion, unfortunately, is that it never gets a good airing in our society. It is also true that laws do not always work as they were designed. A fearful girl might be reluctant to go to court or might not even know she has that option.

The real issue here is not to protect girls from pressure and exploitation. Rather, this law is designed to prevent them from going to a state that does not require parental notification. As in a communist regime, it would prevent people from traveling freely in their own country.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand where you're going with this. Trying to assert that just because Bean supports some traditionally liberal causes makes her an extremist is rather ridiculous. Such an assertion also fails to recognize the changing (albeit slowly) political demographics of the collar counties.

Crazy Politico said...

Remove the emotion and abortion is nothing more than a medical procedure.

Using the "pro-choice" arguement, I should be able to take my neighbors kid to the next state, no questions asked, for cosmetic surgery.

Ricky Nonlib said...

According to Schade: As in a communist regime, it would prevent people from traveling freely in their own country.

Actually, in communist countries the state replaces the parent and this is what liberals are promoting when they fight parental notification.

Ricky Nonlib said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stephen Schade said...

The state does not replace the parent in communist countries. In a democracy, people should have the right to cross state lines for a legal activity.

An ugly nose does not pose a threat to life or health the way pregnancy can. If the parents will not deal with it, then someone else has to. Otherwise, as studies show, a girl is more likely to run away or try suicide. Do we really want to make matters worse?