As this whole NARAL thing swirls, it's worth saying that, pace Plumer, I don't think the organization will make a bit of difference in the Rhode Island race. I also don't think they forced Langevin out (though I do think they probably helped). It's pretty clear that NARAL's making a symbolic move here, and my original point was that it's a stupid one and it highlights a myopia on their part. But so long as symbolism is in the air, I think Democrats could do with engaging in a bit more of their own.

As a party, we've got some image problems, some real strengths, and a bunch of muddled stuff in between. One of our weaknesses is the perception that we're pro-abortion, rather than pro-choice. Hillary Clinton's "compromise" position, echoing as it did one of the Senate leadership's bills, should never have made headlines because it was already the Democratic position. Nevertheless, it got press because it contradicted what people think the Democratic position is. That means we have to clarify, and one way to do that is stake out independence from the groups that the public associates with extremism on the issue (which, as Ed Kilgore pointed out awhile back, has the side benefit of forcing the Republicans to highlight their relationships with religious extremist groups).

Further, much that's core in our philosophy is becoming popular again. Trust in government is increasing, desire for a strong safety net is returning, disgust with economic risk is growing larger, and on and on. Add that to growing disgust with the extremism and partisanship in Washington, and you have a real opportunity for the party to present itself as concerned with making government work again, not battling for fetuses and homosexuals. Then, if we regain power, choice will be protected. If we don't, it won't. It's simple as that, and it's why a smart strategy for protecting choice wouldn't, as its first move for 2006, be endorsing a member of the Republican majority. But so long as it is, there's a large upside for the Democrats to respond in kind.

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