Monday, November 20, 2006

The Politics of Responsibility

We've mainly known Rahm Emanuel in the past year or so as one big Democratic thorn in Howard Dean's side. Emanuel and Dean had a public spat over how best to distribute Democratic Party funds. Emanuel wanted all the money in targeted swing districts, places like western North Carolina be damned! We applauded Dean's 50-state strategy and criticized Emanuel for taking his disagreement public ... sorta like James Carville in the more recent past.

Which is why William Saletan's essay in Slate is a head-turner. Saletan summarizes critical points in Emanuel's new book (co-authored with Bruce Reed), "The Plan." Emanuel and Reed (according to Saletan) propose "a new social contract" based on the concept of "responsibility." We like this line of reasoning, particularly the discussion of birth control as an antidote to abortion.

In this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, there's no excuse for ignorance about birth control nor justification for making birth control difficult to achieve. And that's the ground on which the old abortion wars need to be fought. If birth control really were universally available, and birth control information universally available, unwanted pregnancies could be shamed as a failure of responsibility. But the leading dependent clause of that previous sentence has to become a reality before the main clause can be realized. And that will happen only over the sanctified scream of the Religious Right and self-righteous druggists who do not want young women to know the first thing about sex and pregnancy prevention.

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