THE MARCH FOR LIFE….Via Ross Douthat, Michael Sean Winters of America laments one of the more peculiar “traditions” in the anti-abortion movement:

The annual March for Life has come and gone. One of its more bizarre qualities is the way GOP presidents participate: by recorded message or telephone hook-up, but never in person. This began during Ronald Reagan’s presidency when some advisors did not want a photo beamed around the world of Reagan addressing the crowd, but those same advisors knew they had to at least acknowledge the role that pro-life forces played in Reagan’s 1980 victory.

….At some point, pro-life groups need to challenge those whose disembodied voices fill their ears every January. This bizarre “telephone hook-up” is, in both the literal and figurative senses of the phrase, lip service to the cause. The loyal pro-life members of the GOP coalition deserve more, to say nothing of the unborn.

As Winters notes, neither George Bush nor any of the leading Republican presidential candidates showed up at this year’s march. As usual, they either called or wrote letters, apparently because they’re afraid to be photographed alongside the pro-life crowds.

This prompts two questions. First, can anyone think of something similar on the Democratic side, where candidates are conspicuously afraid to be seen participating in a rally put on by some major liberal interest group? For example, are Democratic candidates shy about attending pro-choice rallies?

Second, why do the pro-life forces put up with this? I can understand why they allowed Reagan to get away with it: the whole pro-life movement was still fairly new back then, Reagan was one of their first supporters, and they didn’t want to do anything to hurt him politically. But why have they allowed so many presidents and presidential nominees since then to thumb their noses at them this way? They’re a serious and well-established part of the GOP coalition, after all. Why allow politicians to get away with being evidently embarrassed to be photographed in their presence? Inquiring minds want to know.