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Mark Shields is a nationally known columnist and commentator.

The 'tolerant' Democrats

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WASHINGTON (Creators Syndicate) -- Do not think that the Bush White House is the only place in Washington with an outbreak of fibbing and self-serving deception.

Consider the case of the Democratic Party and its current party platform, brimming with self-congratulatory language about the party's admirable broadmindedness:

"We also recognize that members of our party have deeply held and sometimes differing views on issues of personal conscience like abortion and capital punishment. We view this diversity as a source of strength, not a sign of weakness, and we welcome into our ranks all Americans who may hold differing positions on these and other issues. Recognizing that tolerance is a virtue, we are committed to resolving our differences in a spirit of civility, hope and mutual respect."

Baloney, B.S. and worse. Seventeen Democratic House members wrote to party chairman Terry McAuliffe asking him only "to add a link to the Democrats for Life of America on the Democratic National Committee website."

The Democratic National Committee has, by actual count, 261 links on its Web site, including ones to such longtime party stalwarts as Easter Seals, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the U.S. Forest Service and the Oneida Indian Organization.

As the pro-life Democratic congressmen wrote in their letter, the DNC's refusal to add a link meant that "members of the Democratic Party who are opposed to abortion and capital punishment are being denied their right to be heard ...."

.McAuliffe wrote to one of the 17, Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Mississippi, on June 24, stating, "I do not think it would be appropriate to use official party resources such as the DNC website on behalf of organizations whose purpose is to reverse the current platform and/or to enact legislation that contradicts that platform."

"Official party resources?" Democrats for Life is not asking for a desk and a phone at party headquarters or even access to the postage meter. All it asks from the Democratic Party (which views "diversity as a source of strength") is to be the 262nd link on its Web site. By the DNC's logic, do the American Association of University Women, The Jerusalem Post and the American Legion -- all of which have their own DNC links -- embrace and endorse every plank in the Democratic platform?

OK. So the Democratic Party is not, as it bills itself, broadminded and tolerant and welcoming of diverse views. But that is far from all. In its uncritical endorsement of unrestricted abortion rights, the Democratic Party brass is out of touch with America.

On June 24, the same day Terry McAuliffe wrote to deny 17 Democratic House members their request for a Web site link, Faye Wattleton, who for 14 years had headed the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and who has long been one of the most eloquent advocates for the pro-choice position, was interviewed on CNN by Judy Woodruff. The subject was a national poll of women conducted for the Center for the Advancement of Women, which Wattleton now leads.

To her credit, Faye Wattleton did not try to gloss over the unwelcome results from the survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates. "We asked what restrictions would you find acceptable (on abortion), and 51 percent said either no abortions at all or only in the cases of saving the life of the mother or rape and incest."

Protecting legal abortion ranked next-to-last of 12 priorities (ahead only of increasing the number of girls in organized sports) and far behind such options as equal pay and the ability to take time off to care for families.

This confirmed a June 2000 Los Angeles Times nationwide poll that asked: "Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Abortion is murder." The answer: 57 percent of those surveyed said that "abortion is murder," while 36 percent disagreed. Among women, 61 percent judged abortion to be murder.

On Election Day 2000, the Los Angeles Times interviewed 8,218 voters immediately after they cast their ballots, asking, "Which issues, if any, were most important to you in deciding how you would vote for president today?" Behind "moral and ethical values," the economy, Social Security and taxes, was abortion, which 14 percent of the voters named. Among those who named abortion as an important issue (14.7 million, which constituted 14 percent of the total), they voted 58 percent for Republican George W. Bush and 41 percent for Democrat Al Gore.

That translates into an advantage on the abortion issue alone of 2.5 million votes for Bush in an election that Gore won by more than 540,000 votes nationally. It makes you think that it's the Democratic Party that needs a "link" to reality.

Click here for more from Creators Syndicate.

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