The candidates are talking foreign policy, but closer to home, outgoing president George W Bush is trying to ram through controversial laws — little things like limitations on abortion — before he leaves office. Oh, and he’d like to talk to Iran about nukes as well.

Bush weighs in on family planning. The Bush Administration isn’t worried about making any new friends as it heads out of office — now it’s trying to redefine contraception as abortion. The New York Times reports that the Department of Health and Human Services is drafting a rule that would place new restrictions on domestic family planning programs. Current law allows health care providers to refuse to provide abortions based on their religious beliefs – now this provision would also allow them to refuse to provide birth control. The Gavel blog says the law would threaten the funding of organisations and health facilities if they do not hire people who would refuse to provide birth control and defines abortion so broadly that it would include many types of birth control, including oral contraception.

Momocrats blog meanwhile says, “They call it ‘preventing discrimination’ in hiring on the basis of ‘religious belief’ but it’s clear – after reading all 39 pages of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed rule document – what it really is: trying to cut the legs out from under Roe v. Wade.”

Hobos shipped out for DNC. If Obama’s campaign didn’t want him on TV with women in Islamic garb standing behind him, how would a motorcade though streets lined with the homeless look? Terrible! Wonkette reports that Denver will be shipping off its unsightly homeless people… to the Denver Zoo. 

Iraq off the agenda? McClatchy has an interesting article which argues that worries about the economy and rising violence in Afghanistan have meant that Iraq has “faded as the defining issue for the 2008 presidential election”: “The buildup of American troops in Iraq has reduced US and Iraqi casualties and raised hopes that American troops could come home.”

But Iraq’s big news if you’re Obama. The NYT reports that while McCain’s visit to Iraq last spring was a low-key media event, Barack Obama’s visit is set to be awash with coverage. “The NBC News anchor Brian Williams reported on Mr. McCain’s visit [to Iraq]from New York, including it in the “in other political news” portion of his newscast. But when Senator Barack Obama heads for Iraq and other places overseas this summer, Mr. Williams is planning to catch up with him in person, as are the other two network evening news anchors, Charles Gibson of ABC and Katie Couric of CBS, who, like Mr. Williams, are far along in discussions to interview Mr. Obama on successive nights.”

Conservatives grappling with the race issue. CBS‘s coverage of McCain’s address to the NAACP said he praised Obama while trying to persuade them not to vote for him. McCain said: “Sen. Obama has achieved a great thing, for himself and his country, and I thank him for it.” But, says CBS, “when he talked about school choice and economic opportunity and conservative alternatives to liberal policies, was McCain really talking to black voters? Or was he talking to white voters who might be uneasy about voting against a black candidate?”

Conservatives grappling with the race issue (again). NPR reports that conservative black voters are up against a dilemma “because they’re wondering what they’re going to tell their children and grandchildren 20 years from now when they had a chance in American history, which is rare and has never happened before, to pull the lever [for a black presidential candidate].”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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