It's the extremes that make politics ugly.
The activists on the far ends of ideological divide are just as likely to go after their own would-be allies as they are to train their fire on their actual opponents.
Check out Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice activists: They're upset with Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine who, for the rest of the year will also be wearing the hat of chairman of the Democratic National Committee. On Monday, Kaine signed legislation that creates a customized license plate inscribed with the phrase, "Choose Life." Any revenue from sales of those license plates go to crisis pregnancy centers, where women are counseled and urged to carry the child to term, either keeping it or giving it up for adoption.
In any event, pro-choice advocates engaged Kaine in what turned out to be an unsuccessful full court press to get him to veto the bill.
“It is surprising that Governor Kaine would do this, but it’s all the more surprising that he would do it as chair of the DNC,” said Paulette McElwain, the president of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood.
McElwain exchanged numerous calls with the governor’s office over the license plates and organized a grass roots effort that logged more than 2,000 calls to the governor’s staff.
“We provided him with abundant information,” she said. “We’re terribly disappointed that he decided to sign it.”
In Washington, NARAL/Pro-Choice America channeled more than 17,000 emails and 200 calls to the DNC urging Kaine to veto the bill.
“It is unfortunate that, even after receiving thousands of messages from Virginians and pro-choice activists across the country, Gov. Kaine has opted to sign a bill that advances a divisive political ideology at the expense of women’s health,” NARAL/Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan said in a statement.
Weren't liberals supposed to be the "tolerant" ones?
And pro-lifers supposedly extremist?
If Planned Parenthood wants to make its own customizable license plate, Kaine has made it clear that he'll approve that. This is ultimately a freedom of speech issue -- the pro-lifers want to get their message out; the pro-choicers wanted Kaine to block one manner in which that speech could be spread.
This is also an example of smart policy overlapping with smart politics. Obama was the first Democrat to win the rather conservative state of Virginia since LBJ in 1964. Obama also appointed Kaine chairman of the DNC. Kaine's sticking to his guns on this demonstrates a bit of fairness and moderation toward the pro-life cause (Kaine's placing restrictions on embryonic stem cell research may do the same). It's not likely to get Obama or Democrats in general a whole bunch of pro-life votes -- but it doesn't unnecessarily create more hostility from that sector either.
Somehow, pro-choicers will manage to get over this particular Kaine mutiny.
Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots.