As you may have seen in the news on Tuesday, the GOP attempted a 5-hour mugging of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards in their House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Fortunately, they came armed with feather dusters, so the damage was more self-promotional than meaningful.
Making it even less meaningful was that the same day, a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll was released that showed it turns out Americans really like Planned Parenthood. In fact, the poll shows that Planned Parenthood isn't only far more popular than the Republican Party, but more popular than any individual GOP candidate. And hugely more popular than the leading Republican candidate, Donald Trump. And the NRA. It's more popular than even the president, Democratic Party, and the Supreme Court. It's just really popular. In fact, of all the individuals and groups polled...it was the most popular!
"Popular" is determined by subtracting "Total Negative" from "Total Positive." Here are the results --
It's worth noting, too, that all the Republican angst-ridden attacks on Planned Parenthood haven't had much impact, since the poll numbers for the organization are just about the same as last month. Americans tend to just like Planned Parenthood, much more than not.
What stood out on Tuesday in the GOP's attempting pummeling of Planned Parenthood's Ms. Richards is not that they often talked over her and wouldn't let her answer, or pointlessly grilled her about her salary and expenses -- but the massive disaster of committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Saving his big "coup de grace" for the end, it was -- as the expression goes -- a massive fail, and on many levels.
First, it was a blatant, demonstrable, outright lie. That's not hyperbole, because Mr. Chaffetz described the figures on the chart as supposedly coming from a Planned Parenthood corporate document when, in fact, credits on the chart literally showed that they were from an anti-abortion group. And second, the chart bizarrely failed to have an "X-axis" -- something they teach you in basic grade school math -- making the graphic literally meaningless. (Maybe that's where "oversight" comes from in House Oversight! Committee.)
On his website, Mark Evanier pointed to a great article here from Kevin Drum of Mother Jones that not only points out all the lying inconsistencies in the Chaffetz presentation, but includes two brilliant graphics that accurately show what the Chaffetz chart should have been. The article itself is short and I recommended it, but even if you don't read it you must at least check out the two graphics. They're flabbergasting -- hilarious and teeth-gnashing infuriating. To give you an idea of what I mean, here's one of them -- the Chaffetz lying chart on the left (supposedly showing Planned Parenthood abortions on the massive rise, hugely overtaking cancer screenings in a free-fall), and the real, adjusted one on the right.
Further as the author points out, Cecile Richards explained why cancer screenings did drop -- not because the organization changed its priorities to abortion, as Rep. Chaffetz was trying to imply...but because the medical standard guidelines for what procedures required a test for cancer changed.
But do check out the whole, short article, and the other chart. It's well-worth it.
In the end, after five hours of relentless and interrupting questions, I sort of wish that during the entire attempted mugging, Ms. Richards would have responded to all the questions each time with just the same, one simple answer --
"I would like to remind the Congressman of two things -- it is against federal law for any organization to use any federal money for abortions, and so we don't. Because by law we can't. And also, abortions are, in fact, legal. Thank you."
Actually, as much as this fake-hearing appeared to be bordering on an abuse of power by Republicans, turning a Congressional committee into a political witch hunt, I sort of hope they continue, as the GOP puts all its angst-ridden eggs into one basket, trying to undermine Planned Parenthood. Because it's clear they have no ammunition in their arsenal -- other than having to rely on fake charts with a missing axis, and non-existent videos that Carly Fiorina tries to insist she's seen -- but even more because Americans tend to like Planned Parenthood. A whole lot more than they like the Republican Party. And efforts like this just help confirm why.
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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