This has been gnawing at me all week.
I find this post at Balkinization, by Dan Kahan, very intriguing (though the comment thread seems to me obtuse, but then, it's not my field exactly). Kahan says that, "The reason white males are less fearful of various risks is that they are more afraid of something else: namely, the loss of status they experience when activities symbolic of their cultural worldviews are stigmatized as socially undesirable." The study he co-wrote that supports this statement, Cultural Cognition and Public Policy [pdf, but only about 300K], is, now that I've read it, very persuasive, and should give all of us with wonkish tendencies pause. As I understand its conclusions, you could throw a mountain of fact at a person and, if they were predisposed to distrust you on the study's axes (hierarchical-egalitarian and individualistic-solidaristic), you'll likely get nowhere with them. What's most interesting is that these cultural predispositions do NOT correlate with religion, ideology, race or class. Pandering to "values voters" is most likely, therefore, to be seen for what it is - pandering (Digby has been firm on this for a long time - just read down and you'll find a splendid example).
Amanda at Pandagon has been all over the covert hostility to women that pervades the right wing - and its not infrequently overt expressions, for that matter - but her recent post on Plan B this weekend strikes me as a perfect occasion to put into practice what Kahan and Bruman call "expressive overdetermination" - i.e., a policy that, "is sufficiently rich in social meanings that individuals of otherwise opposing cultural orientations can see their way of life affirmed in it." They do, in fact, use French abortion reform policy as an example - and we all know that Plan B is OTC there, with full acceptance by religious traditionalists. Let the rabid fringe once again be the tattered fringe, because they will likely reject any overarching or embracing arguments that would reduce the frequency of abortion. Their battles lie elsewhere, and they just won't admit it.
Which leads me back to the fears Kahan mentions in the blog post. Is the Cheney Administration (as Billmon so accurately calls it) so fearful of the loss of status of its Big Swinging Dicks that it can't admit of any risk at all in its adventures? Heads held high, over the cliff, with a stiffy? Are we really a nation of fucking lemmings?