Obama devoted one fat graph in tonight’s nomination acceptance speech to culture war issues:
We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America’s promise – the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.
In acknowledging differences on the hot button issues, Obama conspicously declined to repeat the popular Democratic talking point that those issues are mere distractions from the “real” issues. Obama also declined to simply ignore those issues , as John Kerry did in his ’04 convention speech , or to parrot the Democrat’s socially liberal line, as Al Gore did in his 2000 convention speech:
And let there be no doubt. I will protect and defend a woman’s right to choose. The last thing this country needs is a Supreme Court that overturns Roe v. Wade.
Obama didn’t modify the Democratic position on abortion or marriage. But he did invite social conservatives to join him in staking out a middle ground. This isn’t the first time he’s extended an olive branch to that crowd. But the fact that he’s doing it over and over again says a lot about Obama’s determination to pick off religious conservative votes from the GOP.
When you ask religious conservatives about McCain’s olive branches, meanwhile, they usually point to the Arizona senator’s Wake Forest University speech on appointing conservative judges to the bench. That speech happened three months ago.