The Republican Party establishment claims it wants to defund Planned Parenthood and that there is just a tactical disagreement about whether Congress can achieve that goal by asserting its power of the purse. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The case for defunding Planned Parenthood is quite simple and crosses the usual political divides on abortion. Planned Parenthood has grotesquely violated the public trust and suffers from a rot in its organizational culture.
This is an organization where a senior executive haggles over the price of baby body parts because she jokes that she wants to buy a Lamborghini. These are people who, in the words of a former technician for a firm that worked with Planned Parenthood affiliates, used scissors to cut apart “the closest thing to a baby I’ve seen” in order to “procure a brain.”
Taxpayers should have no part in financing the work of such depraved individuals. So, how do we get there?
It is, of course, true that Barack Obama says today he will veto legislation that defunds Planned Parenthood. It is equally true that if Republicans wanted to stop funds from going to this organization, there would not be 60 votes in the Senate to continue funding it. That’s the state of play today: one co-equal branch of government can’t defund Planned Parenthood unilaterally, and another co-equal branch of government can’t fund it unilaterally.
For some reason, conservatives are supposed to accept that Barack Obama will never and could never flinch from defending his principles, but it is completely acceptable for their party to surrender prematurely every time its ostensible convictions are challenged.
Let’s say the GOP finds itself in a showdown with the President – one that should have started literally months ago with a united front of Republicans and conservatives taking the case to the American people. Are Republicans so incompetent that they are incapable of winning the argument to shift funding from Planned Parenthood to other federally-funded women’s health clinics?
If you can’t win the argument to defund an organization that has likely engaged in illegal activity, that allegedly cuts the faces of babies in order to extract and sell their brains, whose executives joke about using that money to buy Lamborghinis, what argument could you possibly win? It does not take a Churchill or Lincoln to make this case.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that we will not be able to defund Planned Parenthood until 2017 with a president in the Oval Office willing to sign that legislation. It would undoubtedly be easier in that scenario. But conservatives know from experience that the GOP establishment will be telling us at that time they cannot defund Planned Parenthood because they don’t have 60 votes in the Senate. After all, they didn’t defund Planned Parenthood with control of the White House and Congress in the Bush years. We won’t be fooled into expecting anything different two years from now. We shouldn’t wait for the next excuse not to take action.
The Republican establishment isn’t waiting for the right moment to have this fight. They are begging the left for a truce on social issues and don’t have the honesty to tell their voters that’s what they are doing. Why should we believe Senator McConnell’s heart is in the effort to defund Planned Parenthood when he voted in 1992 to allow taxpayer-funded research using body parts from aborted babies? When in 1997 he voted against a targeted ban on federal funding for research on baby body parts from abortions? When he voted to overturn the “Reagan Rule” which prevented Planned Parenthood from using tax dollars for pro-abortion counseling?
Karl Rove says “Republicans in Congress who want to risk a shutdown over Planned Parenthood have an obligation to spell out how they would get it done. They can’t.” Here’s the strategy: Win the argument. Don’t try to win the argument with your own voters about why you can’t follow through on what you claim to stand for. Win the argument with the left. Explain to the American people why their tax dollars should not go to an organization with unspeakable cultural rot in its DNA.
Rove and his allies have challenged pro-life Congressmen to explain their tactics. Well, the members of the GOP establishment should be challenged on their goals. The Republican Party claims to believe we have a moral obligation to stop sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood. Leadership committed to that goal would tell us how they are going to get it done.
They won’t. They have no intention of ever doing so.