This is one of the more remarkable pieces of video I’ve seen this campaign cycle. Earlier this week, Brian Williams asked Sarah Palin if an abortion clinic bomber qualifies as a terrorist, under her definition of the word. First, she filibustered with some nonsense about Bill Ayers, then gave her actual, astonishing answer: “I don’t know if you’re gonna use the word ‘terrorist’ there.”
This is actually pretty infuriating. What is terrorism if not politically-motivated violence with the threat of more violence? And doesn’t that describe abortion clinic bombers exactly?
Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground may have bombed empty buildings, but they never killed or injured anyone except their own members. On the other hand, violence against abortion clinic doctors and workers has killed 7 Americans. It has also accounted for “17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, and 3 kidnappings.” It’s no coincidence that those read like statistics from neighborhoods in Iraq.
So what is the difference, Sarah? If you’re asking to lead the war on terror, and if you’re going to make your entire campaign about Barack Obama’s association with terrorists, it’d be helpful if you actually understood the concept.
And while Palin’s soft stance on domestic terror is astonishing, John McCain may have an even bigger domestic terrorism problem:
McCain’s terrorism problem dates back to the early 1990s, when he sided with right-wing domestic terrorists and voted against tough new legislation cracking down on a wave of anti-choice domestic terrorism targeting women who visited abortion clinics, their doctors, and clinic staff.
In both 1993 and 1994, McCain voted against the anti-terrorism measure. On each occasion, McCain was one of thirty radical anti-choice Senators to oppose the bill. Fortunately, despite McCain’s opposition, it passed the Senate by a 69-30 margin.
I think part of the reason why McCain and Palin are pushing the Bill Ayers thing so hard is because for the first time in a long time, the Republican ticket is getting out-muscled on national security. McCain wants to spend another four years policing Iraq, Obama– like most Americans– wants to go after Al Qaeda where they live. Obama strongly denounced a man who bombed empty buildings, hurting no one in the process, 40 years ago; the strongest word Palin can muster up for abortion clinic terrorists who are responsible for countless threats, assaults, and murders against American doctors is “unacceptable.”
UPDATE: Just so we’re all clear, if a right-wing Islamic extremist shoots an Iraqi doctor in Baghdad, it’s terrorism and we must spend $10 billion a month overseas and cripple our own economy to defeat it. If a right-wing Christian extremist shoots an American doctor in Birmingham, “I don’t know if you’re gonna use the word ‘terrorist’ there.” Got that?