Behind Door Number One we have Mark Shea firing up his catchphrase and strawman machine as he hyperventilates about the “Evil Stupid, Stupid Evil, Evil is Stupid, Am I Evil? Yes I Am, Stupid is as Stupid Does” Party. Behind Door Number Two we have Bill McGurn’s account of what happened on Friday night as President Obama dug in his heels and refused to budge on the issue of Planned Parenthood. Tough call, but let’s go with door number two, Monty.
In the end, President Barack Obama was the one who refused to blink on Planned Parenthood. Another way of saying it is this: The president was willing to shut down the entire federal government rather than see Planned Parenthood’s federal funding cut.
According to press accounts leaked by Democratic aides, House Speaker John Boehner argued for the funding cut late into the evening. The president answered, “Nope, zero.” He then said, “John, this is it.” Mr. Boehner accepted the budget deal without that cut.
A Republican aide confirmed more or less the same account to me. He said it was “chilling” to see how inflexible Mr. Obama was. You might call it ideological.
Certainly there’s a political logic here. To begin with, many of the women’s groups that supported him are still smarting over the executive order (banning federal dollars for abortions) he issued to secure passage of his health-care bill. That’s still a sore spot, even though—as his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, recently told the Chicago Tribune editorial board—that language is not in the law. The presumption being, of course, that eventually the order will be overridden.
The hard line on Planned Parenthood funding also makes sense if the president was calculating that Mr. Boehner would get the blame for a shutdown no matter what. That’s a reasonable assumption, judging from the way the press has swallowed the White House line on who the extremists here are. Never mind that this is the same president who, as an Illinois state senator, famously opposed limiting even partial-birth abortion.
For his part, Mr. Boehner now finds himself criticized for accepting too little in spending cuts and giving up the ship on defunding Planned Parenthood to get a budget deal. Leaving aside his victory in restoring the previous status quo prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortions in the District of Columbia, Mr. Boehner came away with two strong accomplishments.
First, in just three months as speaker, he has managed to change the national debate from “stimulus” and “investment” to “how much spending do we need to cut”—which is why Mr. Obama will be pressing the reset button in a planned speech on spending tomorrow. Second, on Planned Parenthood funding, he has secured something that those concerned about restoring these contentious issues to the people should appreciate: an agreement that the Senate will vote on a separate measure to defund Planned Parenthood.
Surely it tells you something about who the real extremists are that an up or down vote is deemed a concession. In an appearance at a rally before the deal, Mr. Schumer vowed that any bill taking taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood would “never, never, never” pass the Senate. In the normal way of doing things, it wouldn’t even have come up for a vote.
McGurn’s whole column is behind a pay wall, and I can violate fair use only so much (K-Lo did it first). There is one other line in the column I do have to take issue with. McGurn notes that Planned Parenthood performed 332,278 abortions in 2009, and adds, “Planned Parenthood counters that no federal dollars go to abortion, but Americans are not stupid. They know money is fungible.” Sadly, based on some of the Facebook and blog posts I read last week, I’d have to disagree with McGurn’s assessment about the public’s stupidity.
I can partially understand the sentiment of those who think Boehner should have drawn a line in the sand as well. The problem is we have an ideological extremist in the White House – and one would think by now people would finally get this – who is beholden to the abortion lobby. Oh, he might change his mind when it comes to things like military commissions and waging war in the Middle East, but when it comes to abortion there ain’t no stopping him now. There can be negotiating with the likes of Obama when it comes to abortion – only removal from office.