How Republicans Packaged Abortion for a TV Audience at the RNC

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Culture & Conversation Politics

How Republicans Packaged Abortion for a TV Audience at the RNC

Jessica Mason Pieklo

We have Ginny Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to thank for that.

Day two of the Republican National Convention was all about the culture wars. And unlike the Democratic National Convention, abortion played a prominent role.

Up first was anti-choice activist Abby Johnson. Johnson has told a lot of lies that can inspire someone like Robert Lewis Dear to go and shoot up a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. I know this because I’ve covered Dear’s proceedings since day one.

Phrases like “the smell of abortion,” which in hindsight I regret snarking about, are flares to folks already predisposed to violence, and, given who we have as an attorney general—a man who won’t defend the FACE Act with real measures—that matters.

I also expected the convention speeches to be more animated, like they were Monday night, and that too was a mistake. Conservatives need to UNDERSELL the coming onslaught on our rights should Donald Trump be reelected. That’s why the Covington Catholic kid was cropped to look like he was seated and not standing, for example. Framing matters.

Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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And first lady Melania Trump’s speech, while boring AF, was actually a lot of counter-programming for the conservative culture wars here, and it’s SO TYPICALLY conservative.

[GIF: "You sound like a fool."]

Let’s talk about that a bit.

Weaponizing white women to soften the brutality of their policies: This is probably the oldest conservative play.

Speaking of! You know whose fingerprints were all over the RNC’s programming? Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Ginni Thomas shaped Tuesday night’s culture wars programming and is likely steaming about the QAnon lady getting yanked. I’d put money on this bet.

The chances that some other journalist with more time and resources actually writes this up before me is pretty solid, but y’all heard it first: This was the Ginni Thomas show tonight.

Why do I think tonight was the Ginni Thomas show? Because it was a “who’s who” of culture warriors that only us nerds would recognize. Like Rand Paul and Pam Bondi and Mike Pompeo all walk into a bar, and there’s a select few of us who know that they’re talking ABORSHUN.

But you know who doesn’t know this? My high school boyfriend who still lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and is definitely on the Q train and HOWDY BOY TALK ABOUT DODGING BULLETS, BUT I DIGRESS.

What he saw Tuesday night is a lot of conservative thought leaders! I’m being sarcastic—none of them are thought leaders, but you go to war with the army you have, amirite conservatives?

Back to the Ginni Thomas show.

Tuesday night managed to center: abortion, cancel culture, white race grievance, Christian persecution complex, sex pests … and the usual anti-Affordable Care Act nonsense.

This is Ginni Thomas’ entire jam, y’all. If I were to make a Ginni Thomas bingo sheet, all of these points would be on it.

With federal courts and gender fuckery to boot.

[GIF: Matthew McConaughey's

Look. An Omaha girl knows an Omaha girl, is what I’m saying.

There is one person really steeped in connecting the constituencies of the Heritage Foundation and the Susan B. Anthony List and that is Ginni Thomas (and Mike Pence).

Trump has nominated, and Republicans have confirmed, more Thomas clerks to the federal courts than any other justice.

Is it any wonder a FISHERMAN FROM MAINE talked about abortion and the federal courts?

I’d be he didn’t write that line. It was a narrative thread a producer made sure got air time. That’s a coordinated political message to my numpty-headed former high school boyfriend.

What we didn’t see was the actual fire and brimstone behind Trump policies, the kind of fevered passions that would make the Lincoln Project uncomfortable and could be sliced a million ways for Biden ads.

That was actually very smart. If on Tuesday night Republicans had admitted to granting a waiver to a religious social services organization in South Carolina that refused foster care placements with Jewish families in a case the Supreme Court will hear a day after the election—imagine the ads.

SO DEMOCRATS, FREE TIP: MAKE AN AD TALKING ABOUT HOW TRUMP IS DEFENDING RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION AT SCOTUS AND WONT TALK ABOUT IT.

Why Democrats refuse to talk about the Supreme Court when it scheduled oral arguments in the case brought by Republicans to bring down the entirely of the Affordable Care Act during a pandemic where we are nearing 200,000 deaths is beyond me.

[GIF: Viola Davis leaving]

What is the actual point in having an opposition party, even?

Again. Back to Ginni Thomas, who got me so heated because conservatives are just SO MUCH BETTER at this courts stuff than progressives have been. And Tuesday night really drove that fact home. The evening was subdued, yet the messaging was consistent and clear from Republicans: Vote in November like the courts depend on it. Because they do.

What will it take for Democrats to get that same message across to their constituents?

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.