“A leash around women’s necks…”
Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 3:55 pm
Late in the morning on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, I sat down with Lynn Forester de Rothschild.
In addition to sitting on the Democratic Party’s Platform Committee, de Rothschild was an ardent supporter of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s run for the presidency. She acted as a surrogate, raised large amounts of money and, on the eve of Sen. Barack Obama’s nomination, was still fuming about the outcome of the primary race.
Angry could not begin to describe her feelings.
In a darkened hotel room, she raged against Obama and the more liberal factions of her own party; blamed party leaders like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for much of what happened, and predicted doom for Obama on Nov. 4. Near the end of our talk, she even expressed doubt about whom she would support in the general election.
We have now found out her decision.
Earlier today, the McCain campaign announced de Rothschild had endorsed McCain, saying in a statement that, “In an election as important at this, we must choose the candidate who has a proven record of bipartisanship and reforming government, and that’s John McCain. We can’t afford a president who lacks experience and judgment and has never crossed party lines to work for meaningful reform. Amid tough economic times and foreign-policy concerns, we need someone who is ready to lead. Although I am a Democrat, I recognize that it’s more important to put country ahead of party and that’s why I support John McCain.”
But what of the issue of reproductive choice? It’s something I asked de Rothschild during our conversation. It never made it into my piece, but seems salient now. When I asked about Roe vs. Wade, the political heavyweight used it as an opportunity to further attack her own party.
“I’ll tell you about the choice,” de Rothschild said to me. “The Democratic Party uses Roe vs. Wade as a leash around women’s necks. They say, ‘Oh if we lose, the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, you’ll lose your right to choice.’
“I am a graduate of Columbia University law school,” she continued. “I have had a conversation with Ruth Bader Ginsburg about this. Roe vs. Wade was not the best case for women’s reproductive rights. There are better fact-cases. And people like me, all pro-choice people, would get that case before the Supreme Court should Roe v. Wade be struck down.
“There is no question the Constitution protects our right to choose. If Roe v. Wade was going to go, George Bush would have gotten rid of it. John McCain’s not going to go after Roe v. Wade, and I’m not going to be held hostage. I’m not going to be ghettoized by Roe v. Wade. That’s what the Democrats do and I’m sick of that.”
There’s no doubt that a great number of Democrats will distance themselves from de Rothschild because of her decision. Indeed, she may never be welcome into the party’s inner circle again.
But there’s no doubt, given the polls, that there are many women who feel this way and are ready to bolt their party to support McCain. So now it’s crucial for the Democrats to promote Clinton even more–having her appear on TV and public events; making the best case that a vote for Obama is a vote for everything she stands for.
The burden on Clinton is immense. She has to win back the people who supported her. She is more than an Obama supporter — she must be a super-surrogate, the likes of which we have never seen.
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