The Rachel Maddow Show | March 05, 2013
>>> going on in the great state of arkansas right now. the republican-controlled legislature in arkansas has just passed back-to-back unconstitutional bans on abortion. you can't ban abortion. roe v. wade , right? arkansas 's governor mike beebe vetoed both of the bans. he has a mixed record on the subject. he has vetoed the bills because, dude, they are blatantly unconstitutional. quote, the adoption of blatantly unconstitutional laws can be very costly to the taxpayers of our state . well, today after already overriding the governor's veto of the first ban, the arkansas senate voted to override the second even stricter abortion ban. if the house also votes to override the veto, the aclu naturally has already promised that costly lawsuit that the governor was talking about in his veto messages. nonetheless, the republican-led legislature is poised to commit the state of arkansas to spend a huge amount of money defending itself in a lawsuit, the filing of which is a forgone conclusion. and quite frankly, it is all but a forgone conclusion that the state will lose that lawsuit. so what they've done here is essentially make a bonfire of taxpayer money. that's about to happen in arkansas . also, the legislature can go on record as having tried to illegally ban abortion, even000 they all know that is not a thing they are allowed to do. apparently nothing is a waste of money when it comes to making the same point ever more emphatically in anti-abortion republican politics.
>>> we're also waiting this week on action from south dakota 's republican governor on an almost equally ridiculous anti-abortion bill that passed through that state 's legislature. south dakota already has a law in the books that will force women into the longest in the nation delay for having an abortion. now, the legislature in its wisdom has passed a measure to augment the waiting period . so the clock doesn't start ticking on the forced delay if the day in question is a weekend or a holiday. the whole justification for forcing women to wait is that women are too dumb to understand what an abortion is on their own, and they need to be forced by the state to sit and wait and think about it for 72 hours . but apparently all that state mandated sitting and thinking is banned on days when the bank is closed. so in your real life , you are still waiting on weekends and holidays, of course, but the state government refuses to acknowledge that you are doing so. it's like if you were sentenced to prison time, and when the warden went home at the end of the business day , the state would stop counting the time you're in prison against your sentence. not because you're not in prison after business hours , but because the warden isn't there to observe you being there. he is home. business day is over. again, that has passed both the house and the senate in south dakota . it was due to land on the governor's desk this week. so far the governor's office is not saying whether or not he'll sign it, but he does say he has been supportive of the concept of a longer waiting period . that's some of what is happening in the states where republicans are running things. federally, you're at least seeing a different message about republican governance. roll call newspaper writing this week about senate republicans ' comeback strategy for the next elections, a major piece of which is avoiding, so-called, todd akin moments. the new head of the nrsc saying the todd akin cam fiefns last election cycle, quote, not only infected themselves, they infected all the rest of the campaigns. so they will be training senate candidates now not to say creepy things about forcing rain victims to bear their rapist's child. the basic idea here is that social issues are not the party's future. social issues are the republican party 's past, not the future. and that does seem to be what pretty much everybody think, at least in the beltway that is the common wisdom diagnosis. the problem is it's really not what is going on in the party outside the beltway. i mean, take the marquee social issue of gay rights on which the republican party is supposedly having this big change of heart , right? there is definitely sufficient evidence to justify the kind of headlines we've seen recently about the republican party diversifying its previously uniformly anti-gay stance. but there ought to be a subheadline under that headline, or maybe a paragraph in the body of the story underneath that headline that acknowledges the really important detail in this shift in the republican party . and the really important detail there is that apparently applies almost exclusively to retirees. the big story of the week on republicans ' turnaround on gay rights revolves on ken mehlman , the now openly gay bush aide and recruiter who recruited dozens and dozen of other republicans to sign on to a legal brief before the supreme court arguing for a constitutional right to gay marriage . he did get a mess of republicans to sign on in support of gay marriage . but out of the roughly 130 republican signatories, exactly two are currently holding federal elected office . and exactly zero are sitting governors. and exactly zero are sitting u.s. senators . among the many former office holders is tom ridge , former pennsylvania governor , george w. bush 's first secretary of homeland security . tom ridge signed the letter arguing for gay marriage . but, you know, tom ridge no longer holds elected office . he no longer makes policy on marriage, gay or otherwise. and when he did, when he was governor of pennsylvania , tom ridge signed into law that state 's own ban on same-sex marriage. what he did in office is one thing. what kruer doing now that you're freed from office is the new thing. what is actually happening in the party right now? are the politics on social issues changing for the whole party, or are they only changing among the retired class? the republicans who are no longer making policy. where are all the elected? joining us is nicolle wallace , former senior adviser for the mick cain /palin campaign. nicole is one of the republicans who signed the brief in support of same-sex marriage rights. nicole, thank you for being here.
>> thank you for having me.
>> i miss you since you went elsewhere.
>> i miss being here, now that i'm elsewhere.
>> i know. you should come back. there, i said it. only two republicans who are currently holding elected office have signed on to this brief, with more than 100 other prominent republicans . where are all the elected?
>> we have to start somewhere. and i think that each president obama has seen the shift in his own position come about very quickly. he did not run for reelection for with the position he announced last week. the politics are shifting faster than anyone can decipher. you have to assume people are doing what think think is the right thing to do. i think the politics are indecertainable. i couldn't tell you what they are. we don't know what the universe of voters is going to look like in the next presidential campaign . but if they -- if they, you know, include a lot of people under 40, it's indiscernible. this brief, this friend of the court brief that a lot of my former colleagues and i have signed i think represents folks that sign on for three different reasons. one, ted olson is one of the most respected legal minds on the right. and he is partnered with david boyce, who is famous for a lot of things, but one of them for representing al gore in the recount. they have made this argument that even someone like me who is -- can understand, that the equal protection clause , that everyone is entitled to equal protection under our laws. and you can't have a separate set of laws for a class of people. you can't deny people access to marriage because they want to have a same-sex marriage. you can't have different rules for different chas classes of people. the other thing is republicans , i think, traditionally had ideas about marriage because they so revered the institution. and if you so revere the institution of marriage, then shouldn't you want every family to have access to marriage?
>> people wanting to get into the institution.
>> right. let everybody in. because a marriage creates the kind of families that if you're a conservative, you think create the kind of neighborhoods that create the kind of society that we want. so it is a truly conservative stance. and i think ken mehlman has been a wonderful, you know, person to articulate these sort of conservative ideals in this legal framework. the third class of people who signed on are people who have always been supportive of marriage equality , but maybe were guilty of being too quiet about that support. so i think this brief brought together people in all three buckets. and nobody is walking around asking for a ribbon for coming around to what is obviously the more enlightened position and one that i think is the future direction of this country. but i think it is significant that even before the obama white house announced its position, which is very similar to that expressed in the republican friend of the court brief . but i think it is an interesting coalition emerging. i think it is where anybody under 40 tends to view these issues.
>> except if you're a republican elected official. like i understand your whole argument about why the argument is effective in conservative circles. and i understand the whole argument about how increasing visibility on the right of people being willing to say they're for this works and sort of builds momentum on these issues. but what is the bulwark that is stopping all of those forces from working on people who are elected?
>> some people simply disagree. and, i mean, i think there are some debates.
>> all but two elected house republicans ?
>> i have to say some people disagree. i mean some people just --
>> hold the position that marriage is between a man and a woman. and out of respect for people who disagree with me, that is a different point of view that is still represented in the republican party . but i think we have to wait and see. i think we have to wait and see how the supreme court rules. i think that if prop 8 is overturned, i think states may be reluctant to pass bans on same-sex marriage for some of the same reasons that you just described in your piece about abortion rights . but i think we have to wait and see. and i think that if you believe that this is a moment, and i imagine that's why we're here talking about it, this is a moment, i think we have to wait and see if there are more sitting elected officials who are in the republican party who come around to this view. i hope so.
>> what we need to do is we need to get somebody in silhouette with their voice disguised who will tell us that they are pro gay rights , but they can't say so because. we need somebody --
>> and i understand because i couldn't tell you. i really think that there is no single issue in american politics on either side in which the politics are churning and changing so quickly.
>> that's right.
>> because i don't think that -- i think there is political liability on both sides here. and i think that if you're someone running in the state where there are voters under 40 that you're trying to court, i think it's a liability to be on the other side of this one. so i think you have to assume that people on both sides of the issue in both parties, they're democrats who oppose same-sex marriage.
>> they're just moving faster.
>> they're moving a little faster. they have the leadership from the white house , and that always creates more momentum. the president still leads his party in places where they haven't been before. so that is significant for the democrats. but i think ken mehlman and ted olson are leading our party to places we haven't been before. and i think that's a very good thing.
>> some day ken mehlman will talk to me about it on television.
>> i think so.
>> some day. former communications director for the george bush administration, former senior adviser to mccain/palin. again, i miss you.
>> ah, thank you. it's really fun to be back.