Posted by: mutantpoodle | August 19, 2007

Newsbits: That Crafty Rove; GOP and family planning; actresses are skinny

dog-on-newspapers_smA combination of writers block, connectivity problems, and lots of distractions has kept me away for a few days. While I’m working on something longer, a few tidbits that caught my eye…

In today’s LA Times, Peter Wallstein adds another stone to the “Rove as Crafty Genius” monument, relaying how the 2004 White House strategy of attacking Kerry and ignoring all the other Democrats led to the nomination of a fatally flawed opponent who Bush completely trounced barely defeated by 2.7% – the smallest margin of victory for a re-elected president since 1828.

Apparently Karl’s working his magic again – this time on Hillary. I don’t think it’s going to work this time, for two reasons.

First, as I pointed out earlier this week, the more this election is about George Bush, the better the Democrats will do.

Second, the plan with Kerry was to use his his lengthy record against him – the White House fear in 2004 was that Edwards, with a short record and southern roots, would be a formidable opponent.

But while Hillary has a lengthy record, by now doesn’t everyone know the worst? She may be one of the few candidates whose unfavorables could decrease as people get to know her.

I have my problems with Hillary, and she’s not my first choice. But thinking you’re going to unleash a bombshell on someone who’s been so throughly – and inaccurately, I’d add – vetted already doesn’t seem realistic.

Tom Seaver once told a story about pitching to Hank Aaron. The first time he faced him, he struck him out on a slider. The next time Aaron was up, Seaver got two strikes and threw the same pitch, and Aaron launched the ball into the Laguardia flightpath. The lesson? The same tactics don’t necessarily work over and over.

Just a thought.

Eleanor Clift suggests in Newsweek online that the orthodoxy on abortion is so set within the GOP that asking about it is the wrong question.

The question we should be asking is how they feel about family planning.

Next week is the one-year anniversary of the FDA decision to approve the emergency contraception pill Plan B for over-the-counter sales. Approval was delayed for three years because of pressure from social conservatives and the ideological pandering to the right that underlies much of the Bush administration’s policies on health and science. Now that Plan B is available, that should be the end of the controversy. But the cultural war goes on with some large corporations, such as Wal-Mart and Kroger, slow to stock the morning-after pill, and numerous reports of pharmacists refusing to offer it, especially in hard-to-access rural areas.

Family planning is an issue Republicans generally like to avoid because it threatens the coalition between economic conservatives and the religious right. Business types tend to be live-and-let-live, while a segment of social conservatives oppose birth control with almost the same fervor they oppose abortion. Family planning is such an under-the-radar issue for Republicans that Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, says the Right to Life organization doesn’t advertise a birth-control position. “But you find in that movement—and they’ve become much more assertive about it—if you use birth control, you are stopping a life and that’s not acceptable,” she says. Listen to right-wing talk radio and you’ll hear how making birth control available or teaching sex-ed in public schools leads to sex. That’s an argument equivalent to believing that putting air bags in cars causes accidents, says Keenan.

Instead of hammering away at the candidates about abortion, Keenan suggests a set of questions far more revealing: do you think it’s OK for a pharmacy to refuse to fill a woman’s prescription for birth-control pills based on the personal views of the pharmacist? Should hospital emergency rooms be allowed to withhold information from a rape victim about the morning-after pill, which can prevent a pregnancy if it’s taken soon enough after the assault? Do you support age-appropriate sex education (with “age-appropriate” the key phrase as to when it’s time to shelve the stork)?

In short, family planning issues – which most sane Americans view as the most private of areas – could be a democratic wedge.

I’d like to think that this will work, but it may be up to the eventual Democratic candidate to force the issue. If it is, in fact, Hillary Clinton, that could be fun to watch.

Finally, the LA Times’s Rachel Abramowitz digs into the non-eating habits of Hollywood actresses. One interesting tidbit was this:

Casting director Joanna Colbert, who used to run casting for Universal, notes that the women she auditions — real actresses as opposed to MAWs (model actresses whatever) — don’t look “underfed. They just look like they go to the gym all day long. It’s just something that is pervasive in any business that has to do with how you look.”

At least one top manager points out that those who compete most in the weight realm appear to be the same ones who live in the tabloids. “There’s a difference between that iconography and the working actors. Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Amber Tamblyn — they all have very lovely, appropriate body types. They don’t look like they’ve come out of a prison camp.”

The skinny-minnies tend to be “the pop celebrities in the axis of fashion and celebrity. Instead of the fake boobs of 15 years ago, there’s a whole generation obsessed with being thin.” And there have been other shifts in the last 15 years that put more pressure on actresses to be thinner. As more and more actresses sideline officially or unofficially as fashion models, more appear to adopt the aesthetic of the modeling industry, which prefers stick-like female figures because they highlight the clothes better.

So established and talented actresses, who don’t seek out the limelight, may be thin but not dangerously so; wannabes, filled with their own doubts and severe self image problems, starve (and sometimes drug) themselves into chic waifs and thrust themselves in the limelight without ever getting the acclaim they think they need.

Well, that’s healthy.


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