Why Women Need To Be OK With Kaine As The Country’s Next VP

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine says he has a “faith-based opposition” to abortion and it’s got women voters buzzing. As a speculated VP nominee, the buzz is growing into a loud roar.

I’d like to squish the bees creating the noise, maybe not with my entire shoe but at least with a nice rolled-up newspaper.

Gloria Feldt writes, “But mostly, Obama should not choose Kaine because Kaine opposes a woman’s most fundamental human right to decide her own destiny by making her own childbearing decisions. Kaine opposes a long-standing central tenet of the Democratic party platform; in fact, the platform committee just adopted its strongest pro-choice language yet. I mean, how do the Democrats think they attracted all those women they are now taking for granted in the first place?

Kaine’s statement that abortion shouldn’t be criminalized, as in this Meet the Press interview is a step in the right direction, but not nearly sufficient. Women are too close to losing reproductive justice overall, as illustrated by the Bush administration’s move to redefine contraception as abortion. We’re not talking a minor policy issue over which there can be legitimate disputes. As Linda Hirshman wrote so compellingly in Slate, we need to consider the value of a woman’s life.”

A bunch of that is BS. Normally I would completely discount anyone lauding Hirshman (the woman who compared herself to Socrates and dissed stay-at-home-moms because “the tasks of housekeeping and child rearing were not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings” ) but gaffe aside, let’s go ahead and tackle the idea that Obama’s running mate is less than pro-choice.

We could go through and talk about Kaine’s repeated his position supporting Roe and what he’s done as Governor…however, let’s just put all that aside too.

Let’s deal with the realities of this country. The reality of government. The reality of America in 2008.

The abortion issue is never going to be resolved. The abortion issue is never going to go away. The abortion issue is one of the many, many issues that splits this country right down the middle.

I think we can all agree extreme viewpoints in politics, religion, and American life have led to stalemates, ugly campaigning, inaction of government, special interest, and even death, destruction, and wars.

So why is it bad to have a VP who WILL NOT vote to overturn Roe v Wade, yet does express concern with abortion?

That makes him like many of my neighbors. Like many in my family. Like many of my friends and like half of this country. I certainly will not be agreeing with them anytime soon, but I would like Thanksgiving to be more civil.

Senator Obama keeps talking about change. The biggest, single change our country could see is unity. Ending the divisive, nasty way of life we currently lead.

Are you really willing to hear all sides of an argument and bring everyone to the table? Are you really willing to respect all voices in this country? Even the ones you TOTALLY disagree with? Will you at least listen?

Or will you stay set in your extreme ways, and sit and wait for your knight to rescue you?

BlogHer Contributing Editor PunditMom writes, “But if Obama really wants to end up in the White House, he and his campaign need to help shake the feeling that he’s not making the ‘ask’ in a way that connects with the groups he needs.

Barack, Mama Ann and PunditMom’s mom want to vote for you. You just need to be a little more “into” them.”

I would argue that not only is the Senator “into” you, but he’s rising above your divisiveness. He’s into pro-choice you, and anti-choice you, and Christian-you, and atheist-you, and even blow-hard Republican-you.

Senator Obama is listening. He’s also making good on all that talk about real change.

A Kaine VP pick means he’s walking the walk.

The question becomes, can you walk it too? Or will you remain in one corner, while the rest of us-all of us- have our voices heard at the table.

Cross posted at BlogHer

Going to the Chapel

I’m not going to lie.

My brain still fuzzy after the 4th’s fireworks and libations, I had to rub my eyes and go get my glasses upon reading this morning’s headlines.

Obama: Mental distress can’t justify late abortion

My heart sank.

Then I had to clear the cobwebs from my brain and process what was being said before I cried into my Women for Obama t-shirt.

Here is the short version, and what went on in my head as I read:

Senator Obama did an interview with some Christian magazine and said

Obama said prohibitions on late-term abortions must contain “a strict, well defined exception for the health of the mother.”

Obama then added: “Now, I don’t think that ‘mental distress’ qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term.”

In my head:

oh holy hell, is he pandering to the right with this crap? are you kidding me? why would he even talk about limits and and definitions when the women’s vote is being so heavily courted by Senator McCain…is he talking about limits on just late term or could this carry over into ‘mental distress’ in any termination of pregnancy and what exactly qualifies as ‘mental distress’ and who gets to decide and why is the government even INVOLVED in this and why on earth wold he say some like that to a Christian magazine and would he have said the same to planned parenthood and what in the hell is going on with my candidate because I realize this whole ‘move to the center’ thing is really just people educating themselves on where he has ALWAYS stood but has he always stood against mental distress/late term abortion stuff….crap I need coffee.

I then hinted to fellow Huffington Post contributor Lee Stranahan that he was welcome to drive the extra 20 minutes to deliver me a latte, since he was already out getting one for his wife. Lee politely mentioned something about gas prices and I begrudgingly made myself a pot.

I’m now two cups in and ready to break this down a bit so no one gets hysterical and suffers the same caffeine-free heart failure I did a few hours ago.

NARAL endorsed Obama. They believe “A health exception must also account for the mental health problems that may occur in pregnancy. Severe fetal anomalies, for example, can exact a tremendous emotional toll on a pregnant woman and her family.”

If Obama acts on his position, he’d be going against NARAL and other pro-choice entities.

However, Obama spokespeople stress “Obviously, as he stated in the interview, he has consistently believed those exceptions should be clear and limited enough to ensure that they don’t undermine the prohibition on late-term abortions.”

Which I HOPE means he’s not going to push that provision because it would undermine.

We will need clarification on that before we all go crazy here.

I’ll be the first to admit late-term abortion is where my very staunch support of all reproductive rights gets clouded. It’s uncomfortable to think about, to grapple with, to imagine. However I always default to the position of NOT knowing every woman’s situation.

We also know our right to control our own reproduction is constantly under attack. The anti-choice movement takes every inch they can get on any issue on the table to tries and ‘undermine’ current laws and legislation.

The issues are varied and the debate is large and overwhelming.

Even in my own family, the discussion and debate causes problems. My husband and I disagree over parental consent and continue to go around-and-around on the topic.

I respect my husband’s opinion, but I think he’s wrong.

I respect Senator Obama’s opinion, but I think he’s wrong.

I still married my husband, and we continue to debate the issue.

I’m still voting for Obama, and expect we will continue to debate the issue.

Maybe voting is a bit like marriage.

My husband has core values that I agree with and we compromise and fight and respect each other on some of the details.

Senator Obama has a core values that I agree with…I’m guessing between FISA and this, the compromise and fight and respect on those details will also emerge.

So long as those core values remain, I’m guessing we can stay out of divorce proceedings.

So long as those core values remain, I’m guessing we can stay out of third-party candidate, write-in vote proceedings.

The Senator, like my husband, remains the best person for the job.

Although I wish they were both a bit more like Mrs. Stranahan’s husband and would bring me some coffee.


Erin Kotecki Vest is Political Director at BlogHer.com and thinks she’s Queen of the World on her own blog Queen of Spain blog. She also contributes over at MOMocrats where even her non-coffee bringing husband has guest posted so the entire family can Rage Against the McCain.

Hi. My Name Is Erin, And I AM A Patriot

I have never considered myself a patriot.

I have never served in the armed forces. I have never served as a lawmaker, or heck, even a volunteer.

I thought patriots died for America, they lost their homes or sacrificed their sons. I thought they did what was asked when the United States was in need and always stood by her side.

Those people are why I never once considered myself even close to a “patriot.” Sure I have a loyalty to my country, but I also question her. While it may be one of the things that makes this country great, it was always one of the things I thought disqualified me to really be patriotic.

Guess I was buying the spin too.

Senator Barack Obama spoke of patriotism this week in Independence, MO.

“Most Americans never bought into these simplistic world-views – these caricatures of left and right. Most Americans understood that dissent does not make one unpatriotic, and that there is nothing smart or sophisticated about a cynical disregard for America’s traditions and institutions. And yet the anger and turmoil of that period never entirely drained away. All too often our politics still seems trapped in these old, threadbare arguments – a fact most evident during our recent debates about the war in Iraq, when those who opposed administration policy were tagged by some as unpatriotic, and a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal.

Given the enormous challenges that lie before us, we can no longer afford these sorts of divisions. None of us expect that arguments about patriotism will, or should, vanish entirely; after all, when we argue about patriotism, we are arguing about who we are as a country, and more importantly, who we should be. But surely we can agree that no party or political philosophy has a monopoly on patriotism. And surely we can arrive at a definition of patriotism that, however rough and imperfect, captures the best of America’s common spirit.”

The Senator has a point. While I never fully bought into those views, I also never publicly would call myself a “patriot.”

Then, on the heels of this speech, my husband said to me, “Erin, anyone who follows politics with a passion, who loves this country enough to constantly seek out information, and be passionate as to find out what is happening, wants to have a hand in where this country is going, and truly CARES, is a patriot.”

I thought of all the hours I spent following politics. The loss of time with my children as I work to bring information via blogging.

I am a patriot?

In his speech, Senator Obama made reference to the war in Iraq and those opposing the administration being “unpatriotic.” Of course my ears perked up, he was talking to me.

Then everything took an unexpected turn when the Senator said “…and a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal.”

I was prepared for the part defending ME, as I have been against the war from day one and heard ALL about what a bad American I was. The curve-ball that made me sit up in my chair, was the vague mention of MoveOn.org.


Tennessee Guerilla Women
writes, “Ahem, would anyone like to venture a guess as to why Barack Obama saved his criticism of Move On until after the Democratic primary? And how many millions did Move On raise and spend on Barack Obama’s behalf anyway?”

StereoHyped says, “Obama’s aides say he’s keeping up the patriotism theme all week. However, its strongly doubtful his words will have much impact with certain segments of the population until he does something drastic, like bleach his skin or reject and denounce his blackness..”

WakeUpAmericans says, “…this came as a complete shock to see him rebuke them for it now…then again, he has won the presumptive nominee status so he really doesn’t need MoveOn as much as he needs the Independents and Moderates and he may just be sick and tired of them trying to push him around about his FISA…”

Honestly though, I think this just another reminder by the Senator that we can rise above the fray and find more constructive ways to deal with disagreement than name calling.

In a week where General Wesley Clark’s feet are to the fire over comments he made about Senator John McCain, it seems to me Senator Obama isn’t necessarily disagreeing with the message, but the tone and approach of the messenger.

If I can, for the very first time, publicly call myself a patriot- I would like to think I can do so without those taunts of “but you are not for the war!” and “how dare you call yourself that as our men and women stand in harms way and you refuse to support their efforts!”

However the Senator is right, and felt the need to give an entire speech on the subject this holiday week. He would be remiss to NOT hold accountable those of us so quick to decry our accusers while we call names at the other side.

I am a patriot.

Despite a brother-in-law fighting in Iraq, despite a yellow ribbon in front of my home, I still feel the need to defend my patriotism. Senator Obama felt a need to defend his.

Do you?

Get home safe

Contributing Editor Erin Kotecki Vest also blogs at Queen of Spain blog

Cross posted at BlogHer.com

Senator Barack Obama & Erin Kotecki Vest -Yes ME!

Senator Barack Obama and Erin Kotecki Vest of BlogHer.com

Senator Barack Obama answered the questions drafted by the BlogHer community in an exclusive, one-on-one, video interview in Roseburg, Oregon.

More to come-check BlogHer for the video as I travel from Eugene, Oregon home to Los Angeles.

Thank you Senator Obama!