After months of waiting and speculation about who would take the lead, Sen. Lindsey Graham -- not Sen. Marco Rubio -- will be the chief sponsor of a bill designed to ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks, or the point at which some scientific evidence says fetuses may feel pain. [...] "Sen. Lindsey Graham was champing at the bit to do it sooner rather than later," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, a major force behind the legislation. "There's a point when you just have to go ahead. The timing is really now."
We talked yesterday about congressional Republicans and their ability to motivate the Democratic base. By balking at immigration reform, ENDA, and Civil Rights Act reforms, GOP lawmakers are giving Democratic leaders a boost in convincing center-left voters to do something they don't generally want to do: show up in a midterm cycle.
But let's not forget that Republicans aren't quite done strengthening the Democratic coalition.
How's that Republican rebranding campaign working out?
Remember, Congress isn't doing much of anything, but the House has already approved a 20-week ban championed by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), and even though it has no realistic chance of success, Graham now hopes to follow suit in the U.S. Senate. Marco Rubio was expected to take the lead on the legislation, but he's apparently entered some kind of political witness-protection program.
The Senate Democratic majority has already indicated that they won't help pass the measure, and even if it were to somehow pass, President Obama has expressed his opposition.
So why bother? Because Graham and other Republicans hope to use culture-war measures like these to divide, possibly driving a wedge between Democrats and putting vulnerable red-state Dems in a difficult position. This is, after all, a time in which GOP leaders admit they're more concerned with "messaging" than governing.
If this further alienates voters concerned with women's reproductive rights, so be it.
What's more, even if we put political considerations aside altogether, let's not forget the substance: the 20-week ban is an awful, dangerous policy. But apparently, that won't stop in the upcoming Senate debate.