Republican bridge too far takes a political toll

“I am disappointed that I won’t be able to continue my investigations of the Obama administration such as the risky loan guarantee to Solyndra and holding Planned Parenthood accountable to the taxpayers.”
– 12 term incumbent, Rep.Cliff Stearns (R-FL), in a written statement, after his narrow defeat to unknown Tea Party favorite Ted Yoho, Tuesday

Cliff Stearns regrets not being able to embarrass the Obama administration, and not being able to attack the nation’s most accessible provider of women’s health. Despite being supported by presumptive GOP veep nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and having name recognition and money behind him, Stearns today finds himself a lame duck. Now, Yoho is certainly no great shakes as far as political progressives are concerned, but he unseats someone who was more interested in partisanship than policy, and that is worth celebrating.

Planned Parenthood called Stearns’ investigation “nothing more than politically motivated intimidation,” after he launched it last year. In a petition letter attacking the Congressman’s probe, the women’s health group wrote:

“Your effort to discredit, damage, and weaken Planned Parenthood will only harm the women and families who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for essential preventive health care. Focusing on attacking Planned Parenthood when millions of women lack access to basic, affordable health care just shows how far out of touch Congress is with Americans’ priorities.”

But the Republican War on Caterpillars, er, I mean War on Women, has resulted in push back at the polls, this primary season, not only at the Congressional level, but also in state races and in the race for the White House.

The Overreachers
Victims of their own overreach

We already know Sen. Rick Santorum’s lack of compassion for accessibility to birth control and a woman’s right to choose was probably the thing that aborted his soaring primary campaign, keeping him from overtaking the pragmatically vague, “severely conservative,” former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, this year. It may have had a similar effect on a contender for number two on the GOP ticket.

Less than a month ago, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) was called, “an incredibly able guy,” by the head of Romney’s VP search team, Beth Myers. Myers made those remarks at an event CNN described as “specifically geared towards courting Virginia’s female vote.” Ironic, considering the Commonwealth’s governor had reportedly fallen out of contention because of his support of a bill in Richmond that upset many female voters, one that would have mandated vaginal probes, with a camera, for women seeking an abortion.

“Vaginal probe. That’s all I have to say,” Democratic Strategist, Jamal Simmons, told The Hill, last week, before Romney’s Paul Ryan announcement. “If you want to hear the words vaginal probe 500 million times before Election Day, go ahead and pick McDonnell.”

So instead of choosing someone with vaginal probe baggage, Romney chose someone with personhood (life begins at fertilization) legislation baggage, and, as Huffington Post reports:

“He voted to defund federal family planning programs, authored a budget that dismantles Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, all of which disproportionately aid and employ women, and voted multiple times to prevent women in the military from using their own money to pay for abortions at military hospitals.

“Ryan also supported a highly controversial bill that Democrats nicknamed the “Let Women Die Act,” which would have allowed hospitals to refuse to provide a woman emergency abortion care, even if her life is on the line.”

But since no one knows about that, they can practically pretend it never happened. What “War on Women?” Not us.

In Georgia, the Republican in the General Assembly who introduced the so-called “fetal pain” abortion bill this year, Rep. Doug McKillip, was ousted in an extremely tight primary, last month, by Regina Quick. McKillip was political poison on many fronts, as he had been elected two years ago to his State House seat, in largely Democratic Athens, as a Democrat, and switched parties, literally hours after being elected to a minority leadership position. McKillip’s abortion bill, which passed and was signed into law, moved up the time a woman could elect to get an abortion to 20 weeks, and included severe criminal penalties for doctors who violate the law.

Despite the tragic consequences of assaulting women’s choice, the bill was largely regarded as a political stunt, to help McKillip prove his conservative credentials to a constituency suspicious of his rapid change of party allegiance. The irony to this story is that it was Democrats crossing party lines to defeat McKillip in the primary that gave Quick a less than one percent victory. In Georgia, it seems, you have to be a Democrat acting like a Republican to get anything worthwhile done. That’s a shame, especially since the return on your vote is negligible.

What’s common in all these political death spirals is that the cure is just a mutation of the original disease. Regina Quick is still very conservative, and Democrats in her district, with no candidate to run against her in November, have “low expectations for support on the Democratic side of issues.”

Paul Ryan wants to take money away from women’s health; Mitt Romney’s plan will raise taxes on middle class families; Ted Yoho is a hard right, life begins at conception, English as the official language, guns, guns, guns, kind of conservative (so maybe more like the original problem).

Obviously this is no giant leap; it is only a rigid, hip-locked stutter step away from the social abyss. Still, perhaps these changeovers and overlooks are evidence that voters and politicians in power are paying attention to the national frustration with partisan investigations, with outrageous intrusions into women’s health, and with corruption seeded by the limitless funds of special interests.

What’s really sad is that the political discourse has become so small, our government so dysfunctional, we have to look at these baby steps as if they were great strides, when we are capable of so much more. Maybe, if we can figure out a way to break down the walls that box our policy makers in, we can actually, really, be the best country in the world, once again. I know for a fact there are events on the horizon that will help us do that. Gotta believe it’s possible.


One thought on “Republican bridge too far takes a political toll

  1. having grown up in Atlanta, I didn’t know there were any progressive people left in there after the hippies left in the 60s, me in the 70s. Glad you’re here.


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