No sooner had we absorbed the idea that the Democrats conspired to help Todd Akin win his primary so that he could lose or become an embarrassment, than suspicions arose that the story might be even stranger. The new theory is that Republicans tricked the Democrats into this so that he could win and goad the Democrats into losing their minds.
And lose them they did. Word is that they are turning their convention into an abortion-rights theme park, starring a parade of extremists in support of a stance -- abortion up to birth and beyond it -- that appeals to the smallest slice of a the populace, on an issue whose salience in this election is low.
"It's not clear if they will have a single abortion night or multiple nights on the subject," says Jennifer Rubin. "They could call their three convention nights 'trimesters,' and on the last of these extol their devotion to late-term and partial-birth abortions," which is the favored stance of their president. Perhaps they can show an abortion on stage, or have one performed by a candidate, under the watchful eye of an 'abortion provider.' Nothing could say 'friendly to women' more than that.
Democrats say the Republican platform is extreme and out of step with the public, and they are right. The problem is that theirs is just as far out at the fringe, speaking for only a small group of people, out of sync with the views of most voters, who land somewhere in between.
There are still other reasons this plan may not work: Abortion ranks near the bottom on lists of issues concerning the public. Most people don't want to think, much less hear, about it. There is no gender gap between men and women in attitudes, and opinion in recent years has trending in the pro-life direction. A Gallup poll taken in May found a pro-life majority of 50-41.
So the announced lineup of little-known abortion fanatics as convention speakers may mystify out-of-work Rust Belt residents who try to tune in to the Democrats' doings. Sandra Fluke thrilled feminists' hearts with her pleas for free birth control, but others may find her case ludicrous. And Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., in full umbrage fettle could make most of them run for the hills.
Abortion motivates millions on both sides of the issue, but there are many more millions for whom it is a matter of minor or no importance. It didn't stop former Bush voters in 2006 from making Nancy Pelosi the speaker; didn't stop independents who liked the pro-life Sarah Palin from swinging to the pro-choice Obama after the financial implosion; and didn't stop Obama voters, angered by spending and health care, from electing pro-lifers in 2010. It wasn't the reason independents, who swung to Obama in 2008, swung back again fiercely in 2009-2010. It wasn't the reason Virginia and New Jersey made 18-point swings to elect pro-life governors, and other 'Obama states' made similar moves later on.
In short, it has been a nonissue in our last three elections, and is likely to be so again.
The likelihood is that the people who care are firmly entrenched in each of their parties, and that the people whose moves do swing elections don't want to hear of or from them.
By flooding the airwaves with pro-choice fanatics, the left may be stepping on treacherous ground.
Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."