Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was perplexed. Two long months had passed since the Center for Medical Progress started releasing undercover videos in which current and former Planned Parenthood employees described the grim economics of fetal tissue harvesting. Since then, a long congressional recess had come and gone and Republican-run states had redoubled their efforts to defund the family planning titan. Yet in the most recent poll from Reuters/Ipsos, 54 percent of voters still favored federal funding for Planned Parenthood. "Those numbers are news to me," said King. "I haven’t paid any attention to the polls. But am I surprised? Yes."
Over the summer, Republican policymakers crafted a plan they were very excited about. Taking advantage of highly edited, controversial videos, GOP officials would create a Planned Parenthood "scandal," tear down the health care organization's reputation, strip its public funding, and launch investigations to uncover Planned Parenthood wrongdoing.
Republicans were quite confident the whole gambit would be awesome.
Clearly, however, things have not gone according to plan. Congress is poised to pass a spending bill that leaves Planned Parenthood funding intact. States keep launching investigations into the health organization's operations, and those investigations keep coming up empty.
Adding insult to injury, the latest NBC News poll shows public support for Planned Parenthood going up, not down, over the summer -- to the point that the group is now far more popular than both of the major political parties. Other recent polling has offered similar results.
It's against this backdrop that the Washington Post's Dave Weigel reports that GOP lawmakers are more than a little frustrated.
Weigel added, "Republican messaging has been impeccable.... Yet the numbers haven't moved."
If they have moved, the numbers have shifted slightly in Planned Parenthood's favor.
But for the far-right, all hope is not lost. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced over the weekend that he's moving forward with plans to create a special, select committee to investigate Planned Parenthood.
Boehner didn't say why such a panel would be necessary, or why the congressional committees that are already looking into the the health organization needed to be duplicated, though the answer seems to fairly obvious: Republicans don't like Planned Parenthood anymore.
"House Republicans already have three standing committees with subpoena power conducting one-sided, biased attacks against Planned Parenthood, so it is unclear why they need a fourth," Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, told the Washington Post. "House Republicans either have no confidence in their sitting chairmen, or they are willing to waste millions of taxpayer dollars just to placate extremists within their own party.”
It's worth noting that select congressional committees have traditionally been reserved for major national events. Select committees were impaneled to investigate the JFK assassination, the Watergate scandal, the 9/11 attacks, etc.
They are not, in other words, partisan toys.
Disclosure: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this report, and her work is unrelated to the controversial videos.