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Romney waging culture war, with fewer soldiers

 Trend pieces are somewhat of a plague of modern political writing.


Trend pieces are somewhat of a plague of modern political writing. I'm disheartened, in particular, by the ones featuring young Republicans telling us how socially liberal they are. They generally follow the same formula:

  • conservatives in their twenties talk about how they aren't anti-abortion, or against marriage equality;
  • they express hope that today's Republican politicians can stay clear of the culture war;
  • and then they finish off by talking about how, reservations be damned, they still support those candidates. Wash, rinse, repeat.

But even if none of them are particularly original, today's version in the New York Times proved somewhat useful, given simply the timing of its publication. See first, for reference, the quote below:

“Social issues are far down the priorities list, and I think that’s the trend,” [Matt] Hoagland, 27, said. “That’s where it needs to go if the Republican Party is going to be successful.”

Judging by the new ad (above) he released today, it appears that Mitt Romney would disagree. Entitled "Be Not Afraid," the ad revisits a theme we heard from Republicans (including Romney) during their primary season: that it is somehow offensive to God that, as a part of the Affordable Care Act, religious organizations would not be exempted from the rule that requires employers to offer birth control coverage to their employees. Now that the rule has been in effect since August 1, Romney is bringing it up again, ostensibly to gin up the Catholic vote with images of the Pope and such.

(And the "Endorsed by Lech Walesa" screen title needs to be a meme already. Make that happen, Internet.)

But back to the point: are there more Catholics, than say, women? That was what was always so curious to me about that attack; under the guise of being religiously principled about birth control and abortion, Republicans sought to exploit religion for votes, without considering the collateral damage they were doing with women. And re-launching the attack the day after President Obama is introduced by Sandra Fluke in a state where a personhood amendment is under consideration stakes out a certain ground in the debate. Problem is for Republicans, is this a debate they should still be having?

Is this a case of being so committed to eroding women's rights and reproductive freedoms that they don't care what wins elections -- or deluded by past successes with this tactic that they think it'll work in 2012? Plus, we saw how well that worked for Newt Gingrich in the primaries; why would Romney follow his lead, in August?

I'd venture that some of those young conservatives interviewed by the Times are annoyed that Romney is even bothering with this. Another quote, from the vice president of the University of Arizona's College Republicans:

“I would prefer that Mitt Romney leave social issues sort of alone, because I do disagree with him on those things...He keeps saying that the first things he’ll tackle are health care and the economy, and I hope he tackles the economy. I’m graduating in a couple years, and it’s pretty dismal where I am.”

There are some fairly good reasons why Romney wouldn't want to talk about money right now, chief among them the mysterious tax returns he stubbornly refuses to open up to public view. But add to that no job plan to speak of, and a tax policy that hearkens back to Max Shreck's power plant idea in Batman Returns -- and now, a welfare attack exposed as a naked lie. It's easy to get why Romney would dredge up culture-war discussions no one has been having for months, especially given how it went for the last guy to go full bore on it.

And given all that, it is curious why young Republicans like the ones in this trend piece continue to support Romney, given that he's not offering solutions on issues they care about, and harping about culture-war stuff they've supposedly left behind.

Irin Carmon of Salon wrote about the President, Sandra Fluke, and the Colorado personhood initiative yesterday, and appeared later that night on "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell," speaking about it with guest host Alex Wagner. See the video below.