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NARAL: Trolling for a New Generation of Suckers

BDBlue's picture

At least now we know why NARAL endorsed Obama. From The Politico (emphasis mine):

In an interview with Politico, NARAL President Nancy Keenan said the group’s nine-member political action committee chose Obama after extensive deliberation that included studying the two Democratic candidates’ delegate counts (both pledged and superdelegates), their viability in a matchup against the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, and their cash on hand.

I feel so much better knowing that they are so committed to supporting my rights that they essentially sold their endorsement to Obama. And it wasn't just a chance to raise money, it was also a chance to tell long time supporters to go fuck themselves:

But there was something larger at work in this endorsement, Keenan said. “Right now, when you have the mobilization of a new generation of people coming and participating in this democracy, there’s a moment when they are listening, and in my judgment, they are listening now.”

But back to those dwindling coffers. Perhaps the reason NARAL's PAC doesn't have all that much cash is it does a lousy job advocating for its ONE ISSUE. From Jane Hamsher's classic takedown:

And what did they do with all that cash? They sat on it and didn't do a damn thing, didn't lift a finger to fight Samuel Alito. Worse yet, when the Gang of 14 decided to vote in favor of cloture, they said that they did not consider cloture votes "significant" and would not be considering them in their scorecard. They then went on to add insult to injury by asking their membership to thank Lincoln Chafee and Joe Lieberman for the beatings they delivered with their "aye" cloture vote by pretending that their "nay" floor votes were significant. They then poured salt into the wound by endorsing both "short ride" Lieberman and Chafee over their opponents who made it clear that they would not have voted for cloture for Alito, which gave us the 5-4 decision we have today.

Don't reward failure. Tell your friends. Don't give money to NARAL when they come knocking on your door to tell you that choice is going down the crapper unless you give them a lot of money, because what you'll be giving money for is Nancy Keenan's ability to point her little pinky over tea at Washington cocktail parties and tut-tut over the state of choice in this country at the hands of the fundamentalists. She'll take no responsibility for the fact that NARAL will not fight, will not back those that fight, and worse yet, that NARAL sucks up all the pro-choice money so nobody else can mount a meaningful fight, either.

Big surprise. NARAL does a lousy job defending choice, loses its donor base and then decides to remedy the situation by further pissing off its donor base. Hell, even Obama supporters thought it was stupid. From that Politico article:

Even some Obama supporters, while ultimately believing that their candidate is the strongest on these issues, were unhappy with its handling, said Conlin. “The supporters of Obama that I know on our board and in our membership thought it was ill-timed and ill-advised and really antithetical to people coming together in common purpose to beat John McCain,” she said.

Given the “massive healing” needed to keep Clinton’s staunchest women supporters in the fold should Obama become the nominee, Conlin said, the endorsement was like “throwing a flaming spear into a tinderbox of raw emotion.”

That doesn't matter, however, because Nancy has hooked NARAL up to the Obama cash machine. Of course, I fully expect the Obama donors to get the same level of service (read: pathetic) the old donors got.

NARAL sucks or at least its national PAC does. Don't give it a dime. This is not about its Obama endorsement, this is about it trying to replace one group of suckers who paid for lousy advocacy with another.

(h/t commenter IzikLA at Talk Left)

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leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

I couldn't agree more.

The rather pathetic irony in all this is that those of us who have been supporting choice for years now have often found ourselves burdened by the baggage of Naral's reputation for being "extreme." It wasn't always a fair charge, I have to admit, but I think in recent years, in trying to move away from being seen as extreme, they've been engaged in the crudest forms of distancing themselves from their own grassroots support. They don't seem to want to be part of a liberal/progressive movement; instead, they've turned NARAL into a typical lobbying operation; that's why they've been so anxious to find Republicans to support.

I'm not saying that Lincoln Chaffee isn't a good guy on issues of choice, but part of what has always made NARAL seem extreme is the way that it has tended to separate being pro-choice on abortion from other clearly related liberal issues, like those in the Schiavo case, where issues of choice and privacy played a role in an area that affects a wider mix of the population.

I'm glad to see that some Obama supporters are beginning to see that sticking your thumb in someone's eye isn't the best way to pursue unity.

iamcoyote's picture
Submitted by iamcoyote on

But if you don't advocate for us, wtf good are you? Or is that the new way of doing things? Speechify about lofty goals while negotiating in a "post-partisan" world to dilute what rights we have now? They'll still have the brand name, only the candy bar is a third smaller than it used to be. Grr.

FrenchDoc's picture
Submitted by FrenchDoc on

According to Bowers (or is it Stoller?), we won't be getting bones thrown at us anymore!

In with the squishy goo-goo... whatever the hell that is... this movement is made of 15 year olds. (sigh)

zuzu's picture
Submitted by zuzu on

I keep hearing about the new generation of voters (and now, apparently, donors) who are going to take over. And yet, isn't the idea of fundraising and elections to get the broadest coalition possible -- retain your base constituencies and *add* to them, instead of relying on brand-new voters/donors whose reliability is yet untested?

I mean, what's the good of driving away reliable voters, donors and activists and replacing them with shiny new voters, donors and activists if you don't really know how much they're committed to the cause vs. how much they're committed to the personality?

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

The youth vote was down in PA. Also, in WV, the youth vote wasn't so overwhelming or for Obama. Maybe I'll post on my reasoning for that. One sentence version: non college young are less like college students and more like the population they live in. I worked on college organizing but always wanted the DNC to go after non college young people, which are the hardest to organize. The response was less than enthusiastic.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Obama has a lot of democrats believing the media narrative about him and new voters. He does well among youth voters (although he lost them in California), but via Riverdaughter, Dick Bennett of ARG pointed out that Obama does best when fewer people participate. That's why he wins caucuses so easily. When there's large record-breaking participation, Clinton usually wins. So it's not even true that he's bringing in all these new people to the process and that's what is getting him wins (although he is bringing in some new people). It's more that he wins in states that Clinton doesn't contest.

Of course, if Obama flames out in November, that will be the end of the Obama ATM. I will feel bad for the 527s and other democratic groups he's cut out of fundraising, but I will not feel bad for NARAL. It's fundraising problems are because it's done a lousy job the past few years.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I have a feeling the ATM will not work as well once he's the nominee. Wall Street and corporate America will be better off under McCain. Right?

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

but against issues, and fights for rights.

Obama paints the fights for choice and to protect Roe as a divisive, partisan, old-politics fight that's in the past...they're hurting their cause with this, and have to know it...

it must be a lot of money for such an obvious sellout.

Corner Stone's picture
Submitted by Corner Stone on

"But there was something larger at work in this endorsement, Keenan said. “Right now, when you have the mobilization of a new generation of people coming and participating in this democracy, there’s a moment when they are listening, and in my judgment, they are listening now.” "

All of NARAL's current donor base has realized the game that is being played. They see the things Jane Hamsher details, they realize that on the single issue of choice, NARAL has failed to engage, has failed to fight. My guess is that current donors are leaving in droves.
That's where the "new generation" this is "listening now" comes into play. To stay viable Keenan has to con a whole new group of donors. And who's a more gullible group than youthful voters who have previously been disengaged but are now catching onto the Hope Express? Obama's flock is ripe for the shearing, and NARAL wants their piece too.