Bob Casey's Speech Mattered
For 16 years, Republicans seeking the votes of right-to-lifers have made a huge deal about the fact that the late Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey, a strong abortion opponent, was not invited to speak at the 1992 Democratic National Convention that first nominated Bill Clinton. The issues surrounding Casey’s non-appearance were more complicated than is ever allowed by the Republican critics, but never mind: I thought it would have been better if Casey had spoken.
And now, the Democrats have made up for that moment. Sen. Robert Casey Jr., who shares his father’s anti-abortion views, spoke last night and made a note of the import of his being on the podium. "I'm honored to stand before you as Governor Bob Casey's son and a proud supporter of Barack Obama," the senator said. "Barack Obama and I have an honest disagreement on the issue of abortion. But the fact that I'm speaking here tonight is testament to Barack's ability to show respect for the views of people who may disagree with him."
But this is not good enough for my friend Mike Gerson, who said he was “deeply disappointed” with Casey’s speech because “he didn't actually make any pro-life arguments or appeal to pro-life voters.”
Funny, isn’t it, that when pro-choice Republicans such as Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke to the 2004 Republican Convention, I don't recall anyone criticizing them for not talkinga bout abortion. They used their speeches to lace into John Kerry and the Democrats. And their speaking roles were interpreted as a token of the G.O.P.’s commitment to a “big tent.” That served President Bush’s interests. But now that Obama has met a standard the conservatives set after the 1992 episode, conservatives are moving the bar higher.
Come on, Mike, you can argue what you want to about the speech, but can’t you at least acknowledge that Casey’s appearance before the Democratic convention on Tuesday was a big deal?
| August 27, 2008; 1:43 PM ET
Categories: Dionne | Tags: E.J. Dionne
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