MRCWatch Dept. - Tim Graham, today, makes an effort at taking issue with a pair of Washington Post articles detailing the evolution of the respective platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties over the last 52 years but though he puts on the standard Newsbusters show of being Angry And Offended by them, he doesn’t offer any real basis for this reaction.
The core of his complaint is that Marc Fisher, who authored both
articles, gave disparate treatment to the evolution of the two
"But last Wednesday’s piece on the GOP was headlined 'Over the past half-century, a strong shift to to the right.' And for the Democrats, a strong shift to the left since 1960? The headline today was 'In search of a balance between ideals and realities.'" (bolding by Graham)
Has there been any "strong shift to the left" by the Democrats
though? The idea forms the core of Graham’s objection, but Fisher's article
on the Democrats does a fairly solid job of debunking this notion,
showing how the party has shifted back and forth between liberal and
more conservative language on issues over the years. By contrast, Fisher
writes, Republicans "moved in fairly linear fashion to ever-more
conservative stances" on a broad range of issues. Both the Fisher
articles offer a broad overview of the evolution of the two parties but to support his own premise about a sharp Democratic turn to he left,
Graham singles out only a few right-wing hot-button issues: abortion,
gay marriage, "bringing 'undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.'"
After mentioning that last one, Graham doesn’t touch it again, from
which we can assume Newsbusters readers are simply supposed to
understand that brown-looking foreigners with funny accents but without
proper paperwork are supposed to be regarded with contempt by anyone
except extremist liberals.
Fisher detailed the Democratic evolution on the issue of abortion
rights; the party has always supported them but, consistent with the
back-and-forth evolution Fisher documents (and that Graham is
challenging), has sometimes included language acknowledging it's a
difficult ethical issue for some and at other times hasn't. The present
party platform's position on the issue isn't a majority one in the
U.S. but it's much closer to the view of most Americans
than the Republican platform, which calls for a "human life" amendment
to the constitution itself, one that would ban all abortions under every
circumstance, along with in vitro procedures for the
infertile, embryonic stem-cell research, most contraceptives (if given
the reading the reactionaries behind the proposal prefer) and would, in
effect, require a federal murder investigation of every reported
view so extreme that even Republicans reject it by overwhelmingly margins, yet it has been included in the party platform for 28 years.
Graham singles out "gay issues" as an area where, he complains,
Fisher’s "contrast is especially egregious." He asserts the Democrats,
this year, "lurch left" on such issues and quotes Fisher’s handling of
"This year’s plank breaks little new ground, although for
the first time, its support for legalizing same-sex marriage is
definitive and clear, and it commits to combating anti-gay activity
around the world."
This burns Graham’s eyes! "When the Democrats embrace a new extreme,
it's 'definitive and clear,'" he whines. The Democrats were hardly
embracing any "new extreme" on this issue though, or any extreme at
all. Polling has shown
majority public support for gay marriage for a couple years now; for
at least eight, overwhelming majorities--including overwhelming
majorities of Republicans--have supported some form of legal recognition
for homosexual relationships. The Democrats' position isn’t some strong
turn to the left; it reflects the mainstream view within the U.S. It
isn’t "extreme" but Graham complains that while Fisher doesn’t falsely
present it as such, Fisher notes that the Republican platform position
against gay marriage "grows longer and more strident every four years"
after 1992. If there's any way in which this is unfair, Graham makes no
case for it.
Graham, in fact, makes absolutely no case for any strong Democratic
turn to the left and in essence, his complaint seems to be that Fisher
presented the Democratic party as it is, rather than as the extremist
caricature Graham wants
it to be. The handful of issues he mentions support Fisher's thesis that
Republicans have more-or-less consistently become more conservative
while Democrats have evolved much less evenly. Though Graham doesn't
seem to realize it, his last objection to Fisher also reinforces that
thesis. Fisher had noted that the 2008 Democratic platform had "the
strongest statement on civil liberties since the ’70s." Graham
"Fisher ignores that Democrats promised to close
Guantanamo in 2008, and walked back from that in the 2012 platform, and
doesn’t notice, as leftists have,
that there’s no explicit reference in the new platform to Obama’s use
of drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists. We don’t torture terror
suspects, we kill them without interrogation? Fisher, like the rest of
the media, doesn't notice Obama has been very forceful in using
'inherent' presidential power."
Even if Fisher ignores it, what this shows is, once again, that
Democrats moved to the left then moved to the right. Just as Fisher
said they do.
 An effort to implement such an amendment via a ballot initiative
in one of the most conservative states in the U.S. (Mississippi) went
down in flames by double-digits earlier this year.
 Update (Thurs., 6 Sept.) – And consistent with Fisher's
narrative about the GOP moving ever further rightward, this year's
platform includes, for the first time, language about
abortion being bad for women's "health and well-being." This is an
allusion to well-circulated--and patently false--right-wing claims about
abortion causing cancer, infertility and mental illness.