Today's Rapid City Journal features one of the most serious and thorough analytical pieces of journalism to be written during this Senate campaign. It's entitled "Abortion letter still an issue" and was written by Kevin Woster. The first sentence betrays Daschle's systematic efforts to have it both ways on major issues:
Two years after Sen. Tom Daschle sent out a fund-raising letter for the National Abortion Rights Action League saying he had "stood up for a woman's right to choose," Daschle refuses to say whether he is pro-choice on abortion. The South Dakota Democrat avoided making a direct response to the question several times Monday during a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.
How Daschle can refuse to say he's pro-choice when he's been the champion of NARAL, raised funds for them, and actually said he is pro-choice is incomprehensible. Look at what Daschle said in the NARAL fundraising letter he sent out:
Rarely has so much been at stake for a woman's right to choose in a U.S. Senate Election.... Anti-choice forces are organizing and mobilizing right now to defeat champions of reproductive rights, champions like Missouri Senator Jean Carnahan. The U.S. Senate's pro-choice leadership cannot afford to lose an ally like Senator Carnahan. So, we must succeed in getting out the pro-choice vote in this and other key states where pro-choice leadership could be lost. Because Jean Carnahan is serving as an appointed Senator in place of her late husband, Mel Carnahan, Missouri's current governor could be forced to immediately swear-in Jim Talent, a strongly anti-choice conservative. As the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, I've stood up for a woman's right to choose, and the pro-choice leadership of the Senate has made a difference by safeguarding women's rights from the anti-choice agenda of the Bush administration.
Anyway, back to the Rapid City Journal article.
When reminded that he had said in the Oct. 29, 2002 letter, that the "Senate's pro-choice leadership" was being threatened by "anti-choice force," he still refused to say whether he considered himself pro-choice. Daschle also questioned the appropriateness of the question.
Naturally, Daschle is above criticism, remember? His record can't be scrutinized. How dare a reporter actually ask questions about his duplicity. It's a "negative attack!" The article also notes the stance of the Catholic Church:
At the time it was sent out, the NARAL letter prompted a sharp response against Daschle, who is Catholic, from some leaders in the Catholic Church, including Bishop Blase Cupich of the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City. Daschle had previously sparred publicly over his position on abortion with Bishop Robert Carlson of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls.
Carlson has taken an active role in many political issues and in past speeches to Catholic groups has suggested that abortion was the most important of many key moral and social issues Catholics should consider when supporting a candidate.
Cupich has been less vocal politically but was motivated to respond to Daschle's NARAL letter in 2002 with a statement of his own, which was read at Masses at West River parishes that November.
In it, Cupich said that Daschle "has not only aligned himself with the strident position of NARAL, but he has also made abortion the issue of this year's campaign. Those who have known the senator for years consider this very public action a major shift in his moral position on this important issue."
Then Daschle completely contradicts his statements in the NARAL letter:
"That letter was not intended to be a fund-raiser for NARAL whatsoever," Daschle said. "It was intended to help a colleague who had lost her husband in a plane crash and was running for the Senate."
Oh, really? Then why did Daschle's letter say this: "Please give to NARAL today, so NARAL can mobilize the resources to get out the pro-choice vote on Election Day." If it's not a fundraising letter, what does the phrase "please give to NARAL today" actually mean in Daschle's Orwellian world of white = black? This next part is priceless:
Despite the controversy, Daschle said he doesn't regret writing the letter.
"I regret the interpretation of the letter," he said.
Read: he regrets that anybody would actually takes his statements literally when he wants to spin them to mean something else during campaign season. Remember the rule: Daschle is above criticism and scrutiny. Then the article gets to some history:
During his first campaign for the U.S. House in 1978, Daschle labeled abortion as an "abhorrent practice" and went on to say this:
"As a citizen and a lifelong member of the Catholic faith, I will do everything in my power to persuade others that abortion is wrong because I am firmly convinced that persuasion, not legal action, is the only proper and the only truly effective way to limit abortion."
In a 1986 campaign letter, Daschle said he was "unalterably opposed to abortion on demand" and went on to say this:
"This is a battle over human life. It must be won the only way it can ever be won, by persuading the young woman on whose decision the life or death of an infant depends that the taking of that life is terribly wrong."
Daschle also enclosed in that same mailing a letter of support on the abortion issue from his friend, the Rev. Terry Miller, an evangelical Christian minister. In that letter, Miller said Daschle was as opposed to abortion as he was and had even referred to the procedure as "a form of murder."
So Daschle told a minister during his last competitive election that abortion was "a form of murder" yet now he's championing the cause of NARAL. He said in his NARAL letter that "As the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, I've stood up for a woman's right to choose, and the pro-choice leadership of the Senate has made a difference." But now won't say that he is pro-choice. Welcome to 1984. I mean 2004. Read the whole article. And also ask yourself: why can't the Argus Leader do anything approaching it, i.e. actually reporting Daschle's record.