Last week I had some fun with the now infamous Virginia bill that would have required women seeking abortions to be, for lack of a subtler term, vaginally probed. Virginia Democrats won a rare victory by getting that provision withdrawn from the bill, with an assist from the massive amount of publicity given the issue by pro choice groups.
Wait, I don't think "victory" is the word I'm looking for here. From the Washington Post story on Gov. Bob McConnell's change of heart on vaginal ultrasound:
Virginia officials backed off last week from requiring vaginal ultrasounds before abortions, but state legislators are still expected to pass a bill that mandates abdominal ultrasounds and adds other significant requirements for women seeking abortions.
This is yet another example of a technique that the modern GOP uses with great success: a kind of legislative Red Herring wherein they add something blatantly ridiculous to a bill and then "compromise" by agreeing to remove it. And then they pass the bill they wanted all along. The Democrats are forever playing defense, then celebrating their big win when they manage to get the Trojan Horse provisions removed. Good job, guys. Too bad the rest of the bill sucks too. They make themselves relevant by occasionally limiting the worst excesses of Republican insanity. It's inspiring.
This trick is probably as old as humanity, dating back to the first time one caveman tried to buy something from another. Start by demanding the moon and then "compromise" by accepting a little less than that. Psychologists have labeled this the "Door in the face" technique. Of course this only works on the uninformed, the inexperienced, and the gullible. So yeah, it pretty much works all the time in American politics. Some legislature debates a bill consisting of tax cuts for the wealthy and a swift punch to the balls for the working class. After much emotional debate and fierce Democratic opposition, the Republicans grudgingly agree to drop the ball punch.
And this would be hilarious if it didn't work all the time.