In 2010 and 2012, the charge that the GOP was too “extreme” for the American public was propagated by Democrats and their supporters in the media alike. How times change.
On Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) showed that he could deftly respond to “gotcha” questions designed to frame Republicans as fringe and fanatical. Allahpundit’s take on this episode is a must-read. When asked what restrictions on abortions he favors, Paul responded by turning the tables. He challenged the press to ask Democrats the same question, and specifically if they favor the death and dismemberment of a seven-pound infant in utero.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz rose to the challenge by issuing a classic Kinsley gaffe: “I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story.”
The notion that there should be no legal restrictions on abortion procedures at all can only be honestly characterized as incompatible with what most Americans believe.
“A solid majority (58 percent) of respondents espoused viewpoints associated with the pro-life movement; namely, that abortion should be legal under ‘few’ or ‘no’ circumstances,” Townhall’s Guy Benson summarized the findings of a March CNN/ORC survey. “The ‘mostly illegal’ position represented a strong plurality at 38 percent. Meanwhile, just 40 percent of Americans said that the practice should be ‘always’ or ‘mostly’ legal.”
“[Wasserman Schultz] says there should be no restrictions on abortion whatsoever,” CNN reporter Chris Moody remarked. “Is the party united on this?”
Having been made acutely aware of Republicans’ pain, Democratic partisans were quick to object to the perceived unfairness of this question.
@moody Why are you "asking" if Democrats support zero restrictions on abortion when you know that isn't true
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) April 8, 2015
In other words, how dare you ask a probing query designed to illicit a response that either alienates the Democratic base or exposes the Democratic Party as unrepresentative of broader public opinion. As a conservative intimately familiar with this reportorial practice, it is hard to muster up any sympathy for Mr. Legum.
Abortion is not the only area of public policy where the Democratic Party has staked out a position that most Americans find anathema.
“The latest Fox News poll shows by a 67-18 percent margin, voters agree that the assessment by Ronald Reagan of the nation’s woes in 1981 applies today as well: That government is not the solution to our problems — government is the problem,” wrote Fox News Poll analyst Dana Blanton on Wednesday. “Even 51 percent of Democrats describe the government as the problem. Larger majorities of independents (70 percent) and Republicans (83 percent) agree.”
On the issue of the average Americans’ tax burden, Democrats have always been out of step with the majority. Their support for perennial tax increases is, however, increasingly viewed as extreme according to polling data. “Overall, 63 percent say their tax bill is too high. That’s up from the previous high of 54 percent in both 2012 and 2005,” Blanton added.
Perhaps the most glaring example of how the Democratic Party’s policy prescriptions are incongruous with the beliefs of most Americans is the matter of inheritance taxes. Only 22 percent of respondents in the latest Fox News poll believe that estate taxes are “fair” while 71 percent think the government’s ability to tax inheritances twice is “unfair.” Only 14 percent of self-described Republicans find those taxes “fair” while twice as many Democrats — 31 percent — agree.
If the press were to probe Democratic lawmakers on the issue of estate taxes, only a handful would buck the party’s progressive, redistributionist base and agree with the 71 percent of Americans who think inheritance taxes are inherently unfair. To ask that question is, however, to undermine the Democratic Party’s supposed devotion to the ideal of fairness and equality.
While reporters are finally turning the tables on Democrats on the issue of abortion, enterprising journalists should probe liberal lawmakers the issue of taxes, too. That line of questioning might generate a few perfectly unsurprising responses.