Friday, August 7, 2015


Several people have asked me what I thought of the GOP debate on Fox last night and some were a little surprised when I told them I didn't watch it. I'm not a fan of political debates because they rarely reveal anything important about a candidate. They don't tell us any more about which person on the stage would make a good president than a beauty contest tells us which woman would make a good wife. I dislike how the debates are hyped by the media and how the "winner" is whoever comes up with the best zinger, as if that has anything to do with being a good president.

Not only are the one-liners irrelevant to effective governing, so is much of what the candidates say about what their policies would be. They say what they need to say to get elected and then do what they want to do once they're in office. A much better measure of what kind of president a man or woman would be is to look at their total body of work throughout their career. What they've done and written when they weren't a candidate is more revealing than anything they say on stage.

Nevertheless, Breitbart has an interesting analysis of the debate here, although even Breitbart has succumbed to "zinger-philia," as you can see by reading their report.


Katha Pollit's op-ed in the New York Times in reaction to the videos which have made Planned Parenthood personnel look like Nazis at dinner dispassionately describing the horrors they'd perpetrated that day seeks to instruct PP in how they should respond to the criticism they've been receiving. In so doing, however, Pollit does nothing to mitigate the image of cold, brutal, narcissim projected by PP personnel in those videos. In fact, she reinforces it.

At one point she writes this:
There are two reasons abortion rights activists have been boxed in. One is that we’ve been reactive rather than proactive. To deflect immediate attacks, we fall in with messaging that unconsciously encodes the vision of the other side. Abortion opponents say women seek abortions in haste and confusion. Pro-choicers reply: Abortion is the most difficult, agonizing decision a woman ever makes. Opponents say: Women have abortions because they have irresponsible sex. We say: rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormalities, life-risking pregnancies.

These responses aren’t false exactly. Some women are genuinely ambivalent; some pregnancies are particularly dangerous. But they leave out a large majority of women seeking abortions, who had sex willingly, made a decision to end the pregnancy and faced no special threatening medical conditions.

We need to say that women have sex, have abortions, are at peace with the decision and move on with their lives. We need to say that is their right, and, moreover, it’s good for everyone that they have this right: The whole society benefits when motherhood is voluntary. When we gloss over these truths we unintentionally promote the very stigma we’re trying to combat.
In other words, it's irrelevant to Pollit whether what's being crushed and torn asunder in order to salvage organs is a person. So what if it is, she asks dismissively, it's a woman's right to kill it, no one should feel particularly bad about it, and certainly no one should criticize a legal regime that allows for it.

When we've come to have such callous disregard for children, even if unborn, when we can talk about killing, dissecting and plundering their bodies with such cold, clinical detachment, then we've lost much of our humanity.

Much of the outrage over these videos centers around the question whether they prove that PP has broken the law. I think that's a secondary concern. Our disgust should be directed at the inhumane atmosphere that apparently pervades this organization.