"Compassion" was produced for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund by Laguens Hamburger Stone. "Appeal" and "Push Back" were produced by Haddow Communications for the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. For transcripts of the ads, click. Click here to see "Push Back" on Freedom Channel (scroll down).
From: William Saletan
To: Jacob Weisberg
Another trick is the removal of context. The ad closes with the narrator standing in front of this Bush quote from Meet the Press: "I would support a constitutional amendment ..." Why the ellipses? Because the full quote is, "I would support a constitutional amendment with the exceptions of life, incest, and rape. I want to tell you something, though: The country is not ready for a constitutional amendment. There is no chance, at this moment, that there'd be a two-thirds vote out of the House and the Senate." Yes, Bush says he supports the amendment. But the complete quote is a greater affront to pro-lifers than pro-choicers. It basically says he's paying lip service to the amendment. Understandably, Planned Parenthood is frustrated that pro-lifers aren't making a fuss about this. But that doesn't make the quote's truncation any less misleading.
The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy ads are interesting for several reasons. They're essentially but not officially political. They're about a court case—the June 28 Supreme Court decision striking down Nebraska's "partial-birth" abortion ban—which pro-choice groups would like to develop into a campaign issue. This isn't the first time pro-choicers have attempted this conversion—they tried it after previous Supreme Court rulings in 1989 and 1992—but it's a reminder of the degree to which the political process has enveloped the court. The court may not follow the election returns, but if groups like the CRLP have their way, the election returns will follow the court.
On the other hand, if campaign reformers or election regulators ever accused CRLP of using these ads to influence the election, they'd have nothing to hang their case on. The ads never refer to what we think of as the political process. All they do is furnish the address of CRLP's Web site and urge viewers to "contact" the "lawyers who are defending the right to choose in courtrooms across the country." Basically, it's a fund-raising pitch. Legal battles, like election campaigns, cost money. And increasingly, they're just as political. So, CRLP, in effect, is running ads to raise money to wage a political fight that is technically outside the political process altogether. It's a foretaste of the many mutations of politics that will frustrate the next generation of campaign reformers.
From: Jacob Weisberg
To: William Saletan