Nice Going, NARAL
The curiously dissociative actions of national NARAL head Nancy Keenan and the organization’s November endorsements only seem to get worse and worse.
Local Connecticut NARAL head Carolyn Treiss is well aware of the limitations of Joe Lieberman and his positions with regard to reproductive rights — his comment telling rape victims to take a "short ride" if they want emergency contraception was no doubt one of the factors (along with his critical cloture vote for the ragingly anti-choice Samuel Alito) that led her to buck the national organization and vote for Ned Lamont when she was a delegate to the CT Democratic Convention in May of this year. She then went on to join Conncticut Choice Voice, an organization of pro-choice women supporting Ned Lamont and vigorously opposing Joe Lieberman for the lipservice he pays to women’s issues that he quickly abandons whenever it’s crunch time.
Nancy Keenan, on the other hand, went out of her way to defy local Connecticut choice groups and give the national NARAL endorsement to Lieberman.
The rift only grows more pronounced. Now CT-NARAL (which can’t endorse US Senators, but can endorse gubernatorial candidates) has refused to endorse Jodi Rell for having the exact same position as Lieberman (sans the callous "short ride" quip):
Traditionally, a leading abortion rights group would endorse a socially tolerant, female governor who supports abortion rights and who is leading in the most prominent poll by 32 percentage points. In fact, the NARAL political action committee endorsed Republican M. Jodi Rell when she ran for lieutenant governor and for the state legislature.
But this year is different.
On Friday, the group endorsed New Haven Mayor John DeStefano after expressing disappointment in Rell and her running mate, former state Rep. Michael Fedele of Stamford.
In one of the most controversial issues at the state Capitol this year, Rell opposed forcing Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims. The Catholic hospitals opposed a bill to change state law, saying their religious beliefs would be compromised if all state hospitals were required to provide the morning-after contraceptive pill that is known as Plan B. Despite approval by the budget-writing appropriations committee, the full House and Senate never voted on the bill.
Rell’s position on Plan B was a critical factor in causing her to lose NARAL’s endorsement.
"That caused us a lot of concern because that was our priority issue this year," said Carolyn Treiss, NARAL’s executive director. "She wasn’t there for us."
So let’s just make sure we got this straight. "Plan B" was the priority issue of CT-NARAL this year, and Keenan came in and cut the legs out from underneath them by endorsing the guy who opposed it?
Would someone like to pull Keenan aside and let her know that people give money to NARAL to protect reproductive rights, and not DC cronyism? I realize it’s a small town rife with myopia, and you think it might have occurred to her by now, but evidently not.
In the mean time, kudos to Carolyn Treiss. This can’t be easy, having an enormous money-hungry lobbyist looking over her shoulder every time she tries to do the right thing (an article in the Washington Post about Keenan’s efforts to raise money to fight Alito said that "moderation was not the tone" of fundraising efforts, and Keenan enthusiastically copped to whipping people around with scare tactics about the end of choice — then just sat on the the mountain of cash and did almost nothing. Aside from eventually endorse Chafee and Lieberman that is, who both voted for cloture).
Yes, I realize, it’s always about the money. Only it’s not. Good for Carolyn Triess for having the courage to act upon that.
(BTW, Keenan has privately told people she never responded to the blogosphere’s Alito concerns because she thought it would eventually all "blow over," as would any flap about the Lieberman endorsement If you still haven’t "blown over," you can let her know here.)