Friday, August 7, 2015

Done Defending Donnelly

Senator Joe Donnelly
I've defended Joe Donnelly on this blog in the past.  I took some flak over it, but I did what I thought was necessary at that time.

Well, I'm about to do a small flip flop, and I'm sure some will give me some flak over it, too.  I'm even calling myself out on it.  I'm done defending Joe Donnelly.  He is a big boy and can do it himself...especially after Monday's vote to defund Planned Parenthood.

That's really the heart of what Monday's vote was about.  It was a largely symbolic vote for Donnelly to show what side he was on in the debate, and he voted his conscience.  I called him a sellout on Thursday's blog post, and I was wrong on that, and I want to apologize to the Senator for trivializing his views on the issue.

I know abortion is a deeply dividing issue.  It's either very easy or very hard to reduce it to a simple "for" or "against" proposition.  For me, I'm on the record as agreeing with our 42nd President, Bill Clinton, that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.  I also understand why so many people, including Senator Donnelly, have personal and deeply-held beliefs that abortion is wrong.  Because of the Supreme Court decision in the landmark Roe v. Wade case, abortion is legal across the United States, and it's a woman's right to choose to end a pregnancy.  It's up to her to dictate what happens in and what happens to her body.

For many Democrats, the vote by Donnelly on Monday was one of those line in the sand moments.  On these types of issues, some Democrats find it hard for compromise because it's exactly these issues that define the difference between the political parties and the ideologies.  It strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Republican or a Democrat or a progressive or a conservative, and, for some, it's extremely difficult to see how someone that agrees on so many issues can disagree on this one that seems so fundamental to the entire conversation.

As I've said before, the Democratic Party is a big tent, and we let people underneath it with wide-ranging and various views.  I can't, however, defend our Senator from you if this is your jumping off point from the Donnelly train.  The Senator's overall record on women's issues is abysmal, and this vote on Monday was another bad moment for him.

There are many things I like about Donnelly.  He's accessible, engaged, involved, and thoughtful.  He doesn't speak over your head or around you.  The times that I've spent in the Senator's presence usually have left me impressed.  That's why it's been so easy in the past to overlook some of the differences in our views.

Things may be changing on that.  Joe Donnelly will have to make the case in 2018 to progressives and Hoosier Democrats that he's the best choice to win their votes.  In a mid-term election, he won't have the luxury of a Presidential turnout.  Some Democrats may stay home and let him sleep in the bed he has made.


Anonymous said...

Donnelly was just voting this way because his vote was irrelevant. If he had to cast the deciding vote he would have voted with the Democrats. He is a phoney who does as his Party tells him to!

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but I did not think any of the funding goes to abortions. His vote was pandering to the myth hysteria created by ultra-anti-choice folks making people believe the funding is for abortion. His position and personal opinion has nothing to do with the abortion debate. BUT what he did do was add to the ignorance and vote against health care services for women and men who go to PP for low cost health services and family planning.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why any politician would vote to deny basic well-woman exams and contraceptives to thousands of women just to punish those doctors they believe were "selling" fetal tissue. If what they did was wrong, punish them, but don't take away vital health care services from women. There is no dispute that 97% of what Planned Parenthood does has no relationship with abortions, and that no federal funds are used for abortion.

Eric L. Mayer said...

Yeah Jon! Way to go. I defend your decision not to defend Joe Donnelly. Whether his was a vote of "conscience" is open to debate; there are a number of other possible motives. I stand by my choice in a Comment here a few days back. Many, many votes in Congress involve "conscience". Why does the abortion issue always get singled out as more significant than the others? I wonder, for example, if Donnelly voted for the Iraq War, which costs hundreds of thousands of lives? A couple days after the Planned Parenthood vote, Donnelly announced his opposition to his Democratic President's new clean air program, designed to save the planet. This gave cover to Republican Mike Pence's defiance. Lately, Donnelly is batting 1000 - for the Republicans!