When congressional Republicans saw controversial videos about Planned Parenthood over the summer, the party’s plan came together quite quickly: GOP lawmakers would accuse the health care group of breaking the law and use this as a pretext for a government-shutdown scheme.
There was just one nagging detail: Planned Parenthood never actually did anything illegal. It didn’t sell fetal tissue for a profit; it didn’t misuse public resources, and it didn’t violate any laws. The Republican plan was based on a foundation of quicksand.
But The Hill reported over the weekend that GOP House members are now shifting to their back-up plan: they no longer care whether Planned Parenthood did anything wrong.
Congressional Republicans say they are determined to shut Planned Parenthood down, regardless of whether it broke any laws.In more than two months of investigations, members have yet to turn up evidence that Planned Parenthood acted illegally, the same conclusion reached by a half-dozen state investigations. The Department of Justice has so far declined to launch a formal probe.Several Republicans acknowledged this week that they may never find proof of wrongdoing at Planned Parenthood – but said it doesn’t matter.
“The issue is not whether there’s been a crime committed or not,” Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas.) said last week. “This issue is whether or not taxpayers should fund Planned Parenthood.”
It reminds me of the witch scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” The villagers decide they want to burn a suspected witch, and John Cleese offers proof of her evil ways: “She turned me into a newt!” It’s obvious, of course, that he’s not a newt, leading Cleese to say, “I got better.”
To which the ignorant villagers exclaim, “Burn her anyway!”
Congressional Republicans decided they want to defund Planned Parenthood as a result of the health group’s crimes. They then realized there’s no evidence that Planned Parenthood committed any crimes.
To which GOP lawmakers exclaim, “Defund it anyway!”
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to his credit, has patiently tried to explain to his party that the shutdown scheme is “an exercise in futility” so long as President Obama is in office.
“I’m anxious to defund Planned Parenthood,” McConnell said, quickly adding that “the honest answer of that is that’s not going to happen until you have a president who has a similar view.”
In this case, the GOP leader is entirely correct – an inconvenient detail many his party are choosing to ignore.
Disclosure: My wife works at Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this piece.