I am fairly shocked, but admired Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) for taking her party to task on Tuesday over "playing games" in their rumblings about once again shutting down the government, using a strategy which she says is like "a game of chicken." This time, it's over defunding Planned Parenthood.
"I’m tired of the political games," she said. "I’m tired of the president’s game on this. I’m tired of the people on my side of the aisle who are pushing this strategy even though they know they don’t have the votes to pass the U.S. Senate, and they certainly don’t have the votes to override a presidential veto."
I have no problem with her dragging President Obama into her complaints. Both sides on occasion play political games and create logjams. My quibble is that if she does so, she should be clear what she's talking about, because I'm not sure what "games" he's been playing here. Her complaints against the GOP are clear because she's very specific about them in her 15-minute harangue on the Senate floor. She even noted having sent a letter to fellow-Republican Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) last week asking him to explain his "strategy for success" if the government shuts down over Planned Parenthood -- and added that as yet she hasn't gotten a response.
(I'm not saying she doesn't have a point about the president, but she doesn't say what it is, so I don't know. As far as I'm aware, the Democrats here have just continued a long-standing bipartisan government policy -- even during Republican Administrations -- of funding Planned Parenthood, and Republicans in the Senate are the ones who want to change that. Democrats are hardly without flaws, I just wish he'd have addressed them here to show how, in this instance, they're as much to blame. Without that, it strikes me as more a case of her having to throw Barack Obama into the mix in order to give her some cover. And honestly, if that's what it takes to criticize her own party, so be it.)
This isn't the first time that Sen. Ayotte has brought up this matter. said she also asked in 2013 when the last shutdown happened over Republican attempts to defund Obamacare.
"We saw the movie in 2013, and I don’t think we should relive that movie," she noted, referring to when Republicans shutdown the government over the Affordable Care Act. "Let’s remember what happened when you shut the government down and you reopen it -- it costs you more money. So if you care about the fiscal state of the country, let’s not waste money shutting the government down with no result."
She said that while she agrees with her party about moving money earmarked for Planned Parenthood into other community health centers, what the GOP is trying to do here is the wrong way to go about it.
"And so therefore they can’t answer the question, 'What’s the endgame for success here?' even if you feel as passionately about these issues as we all do," she said. "The answer is they don’t know the answer."
It's worth noting that Planned Parenthood is doing nothing illegal. And that abortions aren't even illegal. Further, even if one is morally against legal abortions and are virulently against the government funding legal abortions -- the government not only isn't funding abortions at Planned Parenthood...the government can't. It's actually against the law -- the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976 (39 years ago!) prohibit any federal funding to be used for abortions. So, defunding federal dollars to Planned Parenthood would not take any money away from abortions.
Okay, that's just basic foundational facts. Back to the matter at hand.
Hat's off to Sen. Ayotte for her criticism of the GOP playing games and having no end strategy in trying to shut down the government. If she wants to drag President Obama into her complaints, I would expect nothing less from a Republican, but go forth and prosper. Yes, it would be nice to know what her criticism of the president actually is when it comes to the Republican shutdown strategy, but if she has specific criticisms and if they're valid -- or even if not -- whatever it takes to drive some sense into the Republican Party on this endless government shutdown craziness, swell.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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