Last week’s threatened shutdown of the federal government over the budget was averted, at least temporarily, by a compromise plan.
The compromise throws the big-spending Democrats into reverse, and gives Republicans who had promised sweeping cuts a small, face-saving victory. Now on to the next pointless battle!
Before that, though, rightbloggers had to figure out how they felt about it. Some thought it a big win; others felt betrayed. But one thing they mostly agreed on — the modern equivalent of Cato the Elder’s famous non sequitur: Planned Parenthood must be destroyed!
In the run-up, when others were fretting about the possible shutdown, rightbloggers didn’t seem too concerned. Some in fact were loudly in favor of it.
Jawa Report was ready to rumble, in part, because the government “boasts some of the highest gas taxes in the country — Yet can’t seem to get a road to ‘stay’ repaired for any length of time before they do it again.” Maybe a shutdown would help!
“Libertarians call for permanent government shutdown” announced the National Libertarian Party. “Make my day,” said Don Surber.
Just in case, though, some pushed the line that it was actually Obama who wanted the shutdown. This was the thesis of a Wall Street Journal editorial, and the insinuation of Republican Senator Mike Lee. “Of course Barack Obama wants a government shutdown,” said Surber. “It is his re-election campaign.” “Obama seems to really want a showdown,” said neo-neocon. “Now, why do you think that might be?”
The Last Tradition beseeched the GOP not to “give Obama the shutdown he desperately wants.” Why? Because “Obama is on his death bed, politically,” TLT claimed, and “he won’t get bump if a shutdown is averted. And he’ll unhappy if the shutdown doesn’t happen. Keeping him unhappy is better for the conservative cause.” Well, at least this guy has his priorities straight.
When the deal went down — $38.5 billion in cuts, to be revisited later — rightblogger opinion was divided as to whether it was good or bad for their side. Generally big-time, mainstream conservatives were more likely to count it a great success for Republicans.
“The deal is a huge victory for governance Republicanism over talk radio conservatism,” said old school conservative David Frum. “Who Won the Shutdown Showdown? It Wasn’t Even Close,” said Fox News.
National Review‘s Andrew Stiles agreed: “All told, [Obama] got $78.5 billion less than he originally requested,” he said. “… [Harry Reid] ended up with $33.8 billion less spending than he wanted.” If GOP Speaker of the House Boehner didn’t act like a victor, said Stiles, it wasn’t because he wasn’t one, but because “unlike Obama and Reid, the speaker didn’t quite feel the need to pat himself on the back over it.”
When Stiles’ colleague Andrew McCarthy quibbled that “the GOP just caved on its promise to cut the relative pittance of $61 billion in spending,” Stiles retorted, “I would argue that the actual number is less relevant than the question of who has the political advantage heading into the much larger fights over the debt limit and the Ryan budget.”
So, really, any reduction would have been a victory. (Also employing a low bar: agconservative at RedState, who said “Is [the cut] a miniscule amount compared to what we need? Yes. However for those pointing to how small it is they are forgetting that is way better than zero…” No doubt!)
Some smaller fry were convinced. “Sounds like the Democrat Party realized that the tide of public opinion had turned against them,” said Full Metal Patriot, “and that shutting down the government would come back to haunt them in next year’s election.”
“The numbers are small, to be sure,” said American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson, “but this number was a tactical, not a strategic engagement. The key to the matter is momentum, principle, and precedent, which set up the strategic environment for 2012.” $38.5 billion means Big Mo! Lifson also thought Obama cut the deal because he was scared that the shutdown would be blamed on him, along with “pictures of families near military bases unable to pay the rent or buy groceries, going into paycheck advance lenders and payting 22% interest in order to put food on the table” — which is the first time we’ve heard a rightblogger speak disparagingly about payday lenders.
But there were plenty of rightbloggers who found the half-a-loaf less than delicious.
“It seems the GOP folded on everything in exchange for a rounding error of cuts,” said Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government. “Oh well, progress of some kind.”
“Boehner caved,” said Weasel Zippers. “BOO HOO HOO! BOEHNER AND WUSSYPANTS REPUBS WUSS OUT…AGAIN!” bellowed Angry White Dude. “Boehner is the wrong girlyman for the job. Orange on the outside, yellow on the inside!” “The only thing Boehner will ever be successful in delivering,” said Dan Riehl, “is the very thing Republicans have been criticized about for years – Democrat-lite.”
The least pleased constituency was the Tea Party people, who had apparently believed all the November yak about massive cuts to the goldurned gummint.
The Tea Party Patriots denounced the “Hollow Victory.” “Surprised? Don’t be,” said Tea Party Handbook, “[Boehner’s] part of the Washington problem. He’s a Progressive polictician!” Also, “Meet the Old Boss – Same as the New Boss,” etc.
“Surrender by any Other Name,” cried Tea Party Nation. “Only Beltway America Would Say ‘Boehner Wins Big'” declaimed Richard Falknor of the Blue Ridge Forum.
Cooler heads tried to prevail. The Tea Party “must choose between purity of principle and maturity of method,” explained Ken Marrero, whose mission seemed to be convincing TP people not to primary Republican officeholders, which some of them were threatening to do (“It’s Time John Boehner Goes Crying off into the Sunset” — Left Coast Rebel). “Lives are videos, not snapshots,” Marrero poetically waxed. “In the event of disagreements, allies deserve the benefit of the doubt. On most things we should be privately aware of their mistakes and publicly silent.”
In case that didn’t take, Marrero tried a harder line: “You can take a different road,” he warned. “If you do, don’t be surprised to find it crowded with bullies reading Rules for Radicals. You might also start preparing for your turn wearing the target costume.” Ha! Not feeling so revolutionary now, are you, Joe Tricorner?
The treatment worked on some. “I’m starting to be swayed that last night wasn’t the stink up that I originally was so disgusted with,” said Spartanburg Tea Party, “but still think GOP Leadership is the suckage.”
But most rightbloggers of the mad-as-hell persuasion stayed mad, and the big reason had nothing to do with money: It was because the Republicans had failed to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.
Before the compromise, as liberals charged that the Republicans were bringing chaos just to strike at Planned Parenthood, rightbloggers insisted that the opposite was true. They weren’t obsessed with Planned Parenthood, the Democrats were.
“Excuse me for being logical in the midst of a shutdown ‘crisis,'” said RedState’s Curt Levey, “but why is virtually everyone – even Republicans – buying into this assumption when it can just as easily be said that Democrats caused a shutdown by refusing to cut funding for their beloved Planned Parenthood?… Republicans’ best defense is to go on the offensive by turning the Democrats’ illogic against them. Put the Planned Parenthood issue on the Democrats’ shoulders… It is at least as true as what the Democrats are claiming.”
Others did their part: “Possible government shutdown boils down to funding the abortion industry,” said Jill Stanek. “Planned Parenthood owns Democrats,” said the Daily Caller.
But once the deal was done and Planned Parenthood was left uncut — with a floor vote on its funding promised for the future — rightbloggers went berserk.
At Digital Journal, Johnny Simpson claimed the organization is “guilty of covering up hundreds if not thousands of statutory rapes every year” and other crimes.
“So the battle-lines have been drawn: Obama and his pro-baby-killers on one side and the defenders of the children on the other,” said Troy Newman of Operation Rescue. “But some cowardly politicians are sitting on the sidelines with their finger in the air to see which way the political ‘winds’ are blowing.”
Among the voices of moderation: “Again, I’m not making the case for or against abortion here, ” said Louisiana Conservative, “I simply do not want tax dollars going to the organization that is founded on racial cleansing.”
When Ezra Klein of the Washington Post tried to explain that cutting Planned Parenthood had nothing to do with trimming government, because its services, including abortion, actually saved the government money, rightbloggers declared him a baby-murder enthusiast.
“WaPo’s Ezra Klein Supports Killing Black Babies,” said Lori Ziganto at Big Journalism. “So in terms of the abortion supporter,” said Clyde Middleton of Liberty Pundits, “being concerned over your present checkbook balance is the same as needing to decide which lives, the baby or the mom… Stop hiding behind the ‘life of the woman’ argument when you all have watered it down so much.”
Middleton also denounced “the logical fallacy of ‘Vote for me and I’ll pay to have your baby killed,'” and pretended not to know whether Klein is a man or a woman; Middleton also claimed that he had gotten one of his students to change her mind about abortion by means of a writing assignment. (“I can never support abortion,” he quotes the alleged student, “and that was the last thing I expected when I started this research.” Middleton added, “She got an ‘A’ for the course… and, yes, libs, she would have gotten an ‘A’ even if her views on abortion remained.”)
When Lawrence O’Donnell emotionally defended Planned Parenthood on TV, Freedom Eden wondered “if O’Donnell breaks down in tears when he thinks about the tens of millions of precious lives ended by their mothers,” and called Planned Parenthood “the nation’s largest slaughterhouse of the unborn.”
Newsbusters’ Noel Sheppard sneered at O’Donnell’s “dramatic effect of fighting back tears until he was almost done. And this is what passes for journalism at MSNBC.”
“What a sick world we live in,” reasoned The Mad Jewess. “O’Donnell is crying his gutts out that more babies will not be murdered with OUR tax dollars. What a sick bastard. Maybe he should have been aborted, then we would not have to see his Irish/Bolshevik, baby-eating face. Go to hell, O’Donnell, you disgusting pig.”
They certainly didn’t want to hear that Planned Parenthood is prohibited from using federal money for abortions, or that abortions comprise only about three percent of their services. Some just ignored this information: “Why should any ‘unintended’ pregnancy cost the Federal government [and, really, Federal taxpayers] more?” yelled Darleen Click; “if a woman wants an abortion, they can get the government (through Planned Parenthood) to pay for it,” said The Rabid Conservative.
Other went looking for poetic ways of saying the facts didn’t matter.
Between Heaven and Hell suspected Planned Parenthood was hiding something in those figures. “Unlike the other listed categories like ‘Contraception’ and ‘STI/STD Testing and Treatment,'” BHAH wrote, “the abortion category contains only one activity. Also, I’m willing to bet the activity of abortion does not include the distribution of abortifacients, like RU-486.” (Also, doesn’t counseling sometimes lead to abortion? Throw that in there too! )
Plus, BHAH said, “it’s also unclear what exactly Planned Parenthood means by Reversible Contraception Clients.'” It probably means this — but assisting BHAH with Google is clearly a waste of time: “Even if it’s true” about the three percent, said BHAH, it “ignores the fact that in 2009, Planned Parenthood performed over 330,000 abortions nationwide, a disproportionate number of which probably involved American Blacks,” etc.
Others offered statistics of their own. “98% of all Planned Parenthood services for pregnant women are abortions,” said Alan Keyes, helpfully adding that “PLANNED PARENTHOOD HAS AN ABORTION QUOTA,” though he didn’t provide a number for that. “Planned Parenthood Performed An Abortion Every 95 Seconds In 2009,” said The Daley Gator.
Representing the libertarian perspective, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit focused on Planned Parenthood’s gender bias, and suggested that “women want an Uncle Sugar to take the place of a husband.”
Some of you might be asking: Why is eliminating Planned Parenthood’s $75 million in federal funds so important to these people? Surely there are fatter targets in the budget for cuts — defense spending, for example, or agricultural subsidies, or NASCAR.
Part of the reason, as some of the brethren will tell you, is that Planned Parenthood’s PAC makes donations to Democrats, unlike most military contractors and insurance company lobbyists.
But the real reason they do it is this: Even though their schtick in these Tea Party days is limited government — “Tea Party Avoids Divisive Social Issues,” remember that one? — the real game is traditional conservative politics, which must always include a little old-fashioned culture war for the all-important Jesus demographic. Maybe even more than a little.
Their perspective is wonderfully expressed by Lake Minnetonka Liberty: “There should be no funding of Planned Parenthood anymore than there should have been any funding of ACORN.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 11, 2011