L.A. Times: Obama Using Tactic Formerly Thought by Liberal Newspaper Editors to Be the Exclusive Province of the GOP: The Dreaded “Wedge Issue”
Everybody at the water cooler at the L.A. Times knows that so-called “wedge issues” are bad things — and that, as such, they have traditionally been used only by Republicans. Today, they are shocked to find Obama using similar tactics, in what hard-hitting editors apparently believe to be the first known instance of Democrats using “wedge issues” in the history of American politics:
Wedge issues may boost Obama’s prospects
Obama and Democrats appear to be using immigration and contraception to try to pry away voters from the other camp, similar to wedge issues that past Republican presidential candidates have employed.
Illegal immigration, affirmative action, gun control and same-sex marriage have all been used by Republicans as wedge issues at the state and national levels, with varied degrees of success. Now it’s Democrats and Obama — sympathizing with women paying more for dry cleaning, playing consoler in chief to a woman impugned by radio’s Rush Limbaugh — who are pushing people’s buttons.
The article explains that the issues in question are “immigration and contraception” and defines wedge issues as issues “grounded more in emotionalism than economics” that are “typically used to pry voters away from a party or a candidate they might otherwise be inclined to support.”
It’s nice that they’re noticing Democrats using wedge issues.
It’s laughable that they never noticed this before.
Does anyone here remember 2006, when Michael J. Fox had a commercial that touted stem cell research in a close Senate race in Missouri? The Democrat, Claire McCaskill, won the race. Although some argued that stem-cell research is not a true wedge issue and that it did not help McCaskill, there was plenty of research suggesting it worked. And in 2004 and 2006 Democrats pursued the issue with fervor, showing their belief it was an effective wedge issue. Fox also stumped in Iowa, Ohio, and Virginia — all states with close races — using the issue to motivate voters. Just as Republicans have been accused of placing gay marriage initiatives on the ballot to drive voter turnout, Democrats put stem-cell research issues on state ballots in California in 2004, and Missouri in 2006.
Stem-cell research is hardly the only Democrat wedge issue. Democrats have used a “personhood amendment” as a wedge issue in Nevada. They have used clean energy as a wedge issue. In fact, in 2010 the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a memo with a host of wedge issues the party planned to exploit, including minimum wage, Social Security, the grand debate over Obama’s birth certificate, and numerous others.
I always get a little annoyed whenever someone suggests that one party or another is uniquely susceptible to using a certain evil tactic. If you really believe that, you might double-check to see if partisanship is clouding your perceptions.
In this case, it most certainly is. Nowhere is this as blatantly obvious as at the end of article, which contains a nice little apologia for Obama’s use of wedge issues. It is a campaign plug for Obama so blatant that it had me scrolling back to the top of the article to see if I was actually reading an editorial or a “news analysis.” No such luck:
Wedge politics may seem a long way from the uplift of Obama’s 2008 hope-and-change campaign or, going back further, the message of healing and reconciliation that launched the young Illinois state senator’s political ascent with a galvanizing speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
But Obama has often been underestimated, or misconstrued, by supporters and critics alike. Though he has ideals and principles, and the eloquence to give them flight, he understands one thing: To get things done, you have to win.
Sometimes, to get the right policies put in place, even good-guy Democrats might have to resort to tactics so evil they were once the exclusive province of the Republicans. It’s not that they want to do these things; it’s that their ideals and principles require it, for the good of the nation — and, dare I say it? the known universe.
So sayeth the über-objective journalists at the Los Angeles Times.