Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 17, 2009

TIAHRT EMBARRASSES HIMSELF.... Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) of Kansas took to the floor of the House yesterday to argue that health care reform should exclude funding for abortion. He chose to do so in a pretty insulting way. (TP has the video.)

Arguing to restrict the public funding of abortions within the District of Columbia, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kans., suggested on Thursday afternoon that if such "financial incentives" were available some 47 years ago, Barack Obama himself may never have been born.

"If you think of it in human terms, there is a financial incentive that will be put in place, paid for by tax dollars, that will encourage women who are -- single parents, living below the poverty level, to have the opportunity for a free abortion," said Tiahrt. "If you take that scenario and apply it to many of the great minds we have today, who would we have been deprived of? Our president grew up in a similar circumstance."

"If that financial incentive was in place, is it possible that his mother may have taken advantage of it?" Tiahrt asked. "Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice, if those circumstances were in place, is it possible that we would be denied his great mind? The opportunity to have tax-funded abortions, a financial incentive, is something that I think most of us want to oppose in America and it's certainly deserves a clean up or down vote."

It's hard to even know where to start, but let's go with the obvious. Tiahrt singled out two Americans who, he said, may have been aborted: Barack Obama and Clarence Thomas. So, as far as Tiahrt is concerned, the first two people who come to his mind for the what-if-they-weren't-here argument both just happen to be African-American men.

For that matter, the notion that universal health care will create "incentives" for abortions is foolish, and it's not surprising that Tiahrt didn't even try to back up the claim.

But ultimately, it's just the tasteless quality of Tiahrt's argument that stands out, and which generated boos on the House floor. As Chris Harris noted, "His stance against the public funding of abortions is a perfectly valid view to hold. However, by implying those on the other side of the issue may have caused the President of the United States to be aborted, Tiahrt appears vile and childish -- reflecting poorly on his state, his party and the anti-choice movement."

Tiahrt is in the midst of a very competitive Republican Senate primary right now, and he clearly wants to prove his fealty to the party's far-right base. This, however, isn't the way to do it.

Steve Benen 12:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (50)

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Tiahrt is in the midst of a very competitive Republican Senate primary right now, and he clearly wants to prove his fealty to the party's far-right base. This, however, isn't the way to do it.

Have you been living on this planet for the past 40 years? OF COURSE it's the way to do it. It's the way it's done.

Posted by: Jay B. on July 17, 2009 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice, if those circumstances were in place, is it possible that we would be denied his great mind?"

Great mind? Wow, that's a stretch.

Posted by: JJC on July 17, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

"His stance against the public funding of abortions is a perfectly valid view to hold."

What makes it valid, much less perfectly valid? It's a medical procedure, it is and should be legal, and it should be funded consistent with the funding of other medical treatment. It's time for the stigma (and the barriers) to be removed from abortion - the stigma that is a direct result of allowing religion to order our public affairs.

Posted by: ghillie on July 17, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Ditto Jay B's comment. He's code-talking to the republican base.

Posted by: Buford on July 17, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Jay B. Its just part of Steve's shtick to pretend to surprise and even a slight tinge of dissapointment with the Republican modus operandi. Not only is there nothing surprising about Tiahart's argument--its been made before by quite a few right wingers. That it exposes the right wing assumption that all the mothers of african american males would choose abortion if they could is not really surprising. They really think that. Its a gaffe only in the classic sense of saying out loud what the (presumed) audience actually (thinks it) knows to be true. The fact that Obama's mother clearly adored him, and considered him a great benefit to her life, vanishes from the picture because its inconvenient.

The only notable thing is the argument that, to a poor woman, a free abortion is some kind of "financial incentive" rather than, say, a medical treatment for a costly health problem. Would we say that medicare offers a "financial incentive" for broken hips when it does hip replacements? You don't get much financial advantage from the abortion, as far as I know. I don't think you leave with a bag o'gold, for example.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on July 17, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Tiahrt is in the midst of a very competitive Republican Senate primary right now, and he clearly wants to prove his fealty to the party's far-right base. This, however, isn't the way to do it."

Or perhaps, this IS the way to do it. For example, a woman was recently elected as President of the Young Republicans only days after making blatantly racist comments.

Bigotry appears to be an unabashed characteristic held by a large portion of the Republican Party faithful.

Posted by: Chris on July 17, 2009 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice, if those circumstances were in place, is it possible that we would be denied his great mind

Wait, which side of the debate is Tiahrt arguing again?

Posted by: Glenn on July 17, 2009 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Tiahrt is in the midst of a very competitive Republican Senate primary right now, and he clearly wants to prove his fealty to the party's far-right base. This, however, isn't the way to do it."

Not to pile on, but of course it is.

It's just not the way to appeal to anyone else.

Posted by: Catsy on July 17, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Well ... yeah, that's pretty darned vile. That's about as low as you can go.

Combine this with Pat Buchanan's recent comments, plus the "ballot boxes or ammo boxes" rhetoric coming from that congressional candidate in Virginia, or the recent suggestion by Senator DeMint that armed struggle isn't an option "for now"?

I would say that the mask is coming off.

Posted by: Bokonon on July 17, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, the level of discourse is off the charts stupid!

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on July 17, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

big brains haven't come out of Kansas since, what? William Allen White died? or Dwight Eisenhower?

anyway, Tiahrt's just showing himself to be the shallow demagogue he is.

dolt.

Posted by: Mo Rage on July 17, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention the huge number of great minds the US has been denied due to contraception, masturbation and gay sex.

Something's got to be done. "The world must be peopled!"

Posted by: chrenson on July 17, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Good thing the Republican party is out there in-front protecting black people from themselves. Doesn't the mean ol' Democrat party want to abort all colored fetuses?

Posted by: rusrus on July 17, 2009 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

ghillie: Thank you! Well said. It's irritating enough when right-wingers act as of OF COURSE it's legitimate to want to limit access to abortion, without progressives mindlessly parroting the same line.

BTW, will Viagra and Cialis be covered by the new plan?

Posted by: gradysu on July 17, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Tiahrt doesn't have the brains God gave a small ceramic soap dish.

Posted by: Blueslover on July 17, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice, if those circumstances were in place, is it possible that we would be denied his great mind?"

I confess I'm not seeing the downside here. O_o

Posted by: PattyP on July 17, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

If I'm not mistaken, Obama's parents were married when he was conceived and likely was a wanted child. So why would his mother be thinking about abortion? She was a single parent after he was born.

Posted by: cls180 on July 17, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

150 years ago, if my wife's Tennessee ancestors had been better shots Todd Tiahrt wouldn't be here today.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on July 17, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

...hence the quote, "Not all Republicans are racist, but all racists are Republican.."

Posted by: dmc on July 17, 2009 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Talk about a blow below the belt. The only country that I can think of off-hand that have/or had a practice of abortions is China. If it wasn't a boy, abortion was the key!!!

Wow, and these are the folks that want guns.

I'm a counting the days until I move to the Caribbean. These guys have some nerve to call Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Lil' Kim, & Putin nuts. I ask, what are they?

Posted by: annjell on July 17, 2009 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Tihart himself might have been aborted, and we all might be better off for that.

Posted by: qwerty on July 17, 2009 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

People need to beware, these folks are speaking in code. One thing Patsy Buchanan does is speak in codes. Much like speaking 'in tongues,' they are speaking a code that only the extremist can understand, and then claim "reason of insanity."

Posted by: annjell on July 17, 2009 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

This is not a new argument for the anti-abortion folks. I remember seeing pamphlets in the 1980s where they talked about the world we'd live in without Einstein or Edison if they had been aborted.

So, yes, they are speaking in code. This looks to be a clumsy explication of something that they've long thought, and this time they applied the template in a way that came out with something really offensive. It would be especially funny if this Representative specifically picked these two people deliberately, in order to "reach out" to the black community. That seems plausible, but of course there's no evidence.

Posted by: Travis on July 17, 2009 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Not to be all crass, and lowest-common-denominationy, but let me put on my non-thinking cap for a second, the one that makes me think like a neocon...ow, there goes my empathy...basic reading and math skills...her lips say no but her eyes mean yes...and bang, now I'm a neocon.

But I'm a FAIR neocon, the rarest of birds. So in the interest of fairness, if Tiahrt is going to make that argument, then it seems to me we should also ask the question of single parents of children who went on to become drug dealers rapists and murderers. See if maybe they'd rethink their decision.

While we're at it, let's ask the loved ones of the victims of those children raised in a single parent impoverished household, see if THEY would choose to go back in time, to when THEIR parents or children or lovers or spouses - WHOEVER'S life was needlessly ruined - and ask THEM if they'd be willing to back a health plan that allows public funding for abortions if it means aborting someone who would one day kill someone they love.

Neocons play these sh!tty games all the time, twist already0difficult moral choices to make their adversarties look like monsters, time to throw it bac in their pudgy faces.

Posted by: slappy magoo on July 17, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Since Bush and his friends stole the 2000 election by denying blacks their votes, I have watched with a sense of alarm, dismay, and foreboding as white supremacy race-baiting and racial demogoguery has been mainstreamed.

Trent Lott, George Allen, Pat Buchannan and too many Republican elected officials to be named have proudly and publically declared their white supremacy and even argued tha t it is somehow justified by the scant gains made my ethnic minorities in this country.

Racists ar Republican election rallys loudly and without shame advocated the killing of candidate Barack Hussein Obama. Army majors refuse to deploy to the front claimng the president is not a citizen. Senators try to shame a historic SC nominee into disavowing her latina heritage while praising similar statements by white nominees.

What can we do to turn this back on the racists and hold them to account?

Posted by: Winkandanod on July 17, 2009 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

"However, by implying those on the other side of the issue may have caused the President of the United States to be aborted, Tiahrt appears vile and childish -- reflecting poorly on his state, his party and the anti-choice movement."


It's definitely a tasteless way to put it, but what exactly is "vile" about an anti-choicer making this obvious argument? If you're bothered being reminded that many aborted fetuses would have otherwise grown up to be normal, and occasionally extraorinary, individuals...maybe you need to rethink your whole position on the issue.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on July 17, 2009 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

You missed the major flaw of his argument, the fact that the right hates Obama, so arguing that this funding would lead to an America without Obama doesn't seem to strike me as persuasive.

I promise you several conservative have thought, "Obama gone, abortion funding in, which way would I vote..." I suspect funding would win that argument by a unanimous republican vote.

Tiahrt isn't the only republican who thinks minorities are at the heart of every problem with the morals of Satan himself.

Posted by: ScottW on July 17, 2009 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

If Todd Tiahrt had been aborted, would Dan Glickman still be in the House of Representatives today?

Posted by: dr sardonicus on July 17, 2009 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

slappy magoo has the other side of the discussion: abortion is an equal opportunity procedure. No one can say with even a modicum of certainty what the result of such a procedure is. The most perfectly selected sperm and egg donor cannot accurately predict the resulting person's life experience. There are so many factors that the calculus could not be handled by the most massive and sophisticated computer.

Another argument that is not raised is: what of the tens of thousands of "innocent civilians", not to mention guilty enemy combatants, who are killed or otherwise rendered incapable of reproducing? Or of those who are themselves killed and have their potential contributions eliminated from the mix?

Unfortunately, the application of reason and logic to any fallacious argument is rendered moot by the absence of logic and reason in the mind of the one making the fallacious argument. So, we are left to talk amongst ourselves, extending our brilliant talking points into the void of ignorance and prejudice.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on July 17, 2009 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

An embarrassment to Kansas? Huh?

This reminds me of the classic exchange between two 19th century Alaska miners. One, an ardent admirer of the town floozie, a drunken, dirty and wildly promiscuous dance hall girl, was arrested for getting into a knife fight. When his friend asked what happened, the outraged suitor said "That lowdown dog insulted Hattie." Puzzled, the other replied "For God's sake, how?"

Posted by: Mandy Cat on July 17, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

He simply has no shame! If someone said that about his mother, he'd have a fit. But wait! They're just getting started, and it's going to get real, real dirty....

Posted by: bigapplegeorgiapeach on July 17, 2009 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Ambitious college student Anne Dunham got pregnant at age 17 by a man who (according to his son) turned out to be a terrible father. What are the odds in 2009 that she would have an abortion?

Posted by: Steve Sailer on July 17, 2009 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Good lord! Does no one out there understand the difference between "may" and "might"?

Tiahrt, Benen, and Chris Harris all made the same idiotic mistake. It's ridiculous to speak about whether Justice Thomas and President Obama may have been aborted. The use of "may" when referring to past events implies that we don't know what actually happened. So you can't say that these two public figures may have been aborted. Both quite obviously were not.

The word you guys are all looking for is "might".

Posted by: Rob Mac on July 17, 2009 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

What if Hitler and Mussolini and Tojo had been aborted? Would we have been deprived of their "great minds"?

Posted by: josephus on July 17, 2009 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

This sort of "if you allow abortion then [famous persion X] might have been aborted" was all the rage around the time of the Roe v. Wade decision. The names change, but it's perennially popular in anti-choice circles. Not sure that any decoding is required...

Posted by: idlemind on July 17, 2009 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

"If I'm not mistaken, Obama's parents were married when he was conceived and likely was a wanted child."

You are mistaken.

Obama was born in early August, 1961, and weighed over 8 pounds. So he was conceived about nine months earlier, probably in early November 1960, a few weeks before Anne's 18th birthday on November 29, 1960. His parents were married in February 1961, about the time she'd start to show. By the way, Barack Sr. committed bigamy because he already had a wife and kids back in Kenya.

Under current law and mores, the President would almost certainly have been aborted.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on July 17, 2009 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

I guess that goes for all the kids born in polygamist sects, right?

Posted by: annjell on July 17, 2009 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

In listing all the crucial geniuses we lost, Tiahrt forgot to count the two little souls scraped out their wombs when George W. Bush knocked their moms up. Maybe he left them out because with Bush's genes, even with lots of regression to the mean there's no way they would have been geniuses.

Posted by: eugenia on July 18, 2009 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

and no doubt we'll be hearing soon enough that's he's cheating on his wife (with a man, woman or both) or once used his government health plan to pay for some mistress' abortion.

Posted by: Roger on July 18, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

gradysu asked:

BTW, will Viagra and Cialis be covered by the new plan?

They're not covered under the Medicare prescription drug plan, by law.

Posted by: D.F. Manno on July 18, 2009 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

"This, however, isn't the way to do it."

Your wrong. It is exactly the way to do it. It's all the right-wing understands.

Posted by: cc on July 18, 2009 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Ambitious college student Anne Dunham got pregnant at age 17 by a nigger who (according to his son) turned out to be a terrible father. What are the odds in 2009 that she would have an abortion?

Fixed that for you, Steve.

Posted by: anonymous on July 18, 2009 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

I've never understood the pro-coathanger crowd's attachment to this line of reasoning; pro-choice folks don't care. This is something which may have happened almost fifty years ago. Everyone with the tinest shred of sanity understands that things which balanced on the razor's edge of probability fifty years ago turned into immutable fact forty-eight years ago. Things change. They happen or they don't. People have abortions, or they don't. People have sex, or they don't. People raise their kids, give them up for adoption, abuse them or let their grandparents do the work. It's just . . . that's how it works. Things are up in the air, a lot. And then they aren't.

Posted by: Punditus Maximus on July 18, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

If we'd had universal health care since the 1950s like most Western democracies, think of all the kids who've died young or who were impaired by poor pre-natal care who might have grown up to be something more than they became.

"Under current law and mores..."? A lot of couples go to the altar these days expecting a child. Some of them don't even get married after they've had kids.

Posted by: darrelplant on July 18, 2009 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, after all, we all know that now that it is 2009, every teenager aborts their out-of-wedlock pregnancies immediately.

Oh, no, wait, that's not true at all.

Hmm, then what kind of idiot would seriously make that argument?

Posted by: Daddy Love on July 18, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks to Sailer for demonstrating why arguing backwards, as I said elsewhere, never works.

Posted by: daphnechyprious on July 18, 2009 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Alternatively, I can point out that literally millions of "unborn babies," had they not been aborted, would have grown up to wreak havoc on society.

Posted by: daphnechyprious on July 18, 2009 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Give me a C...

"Every sperm is sacred..."

Posted by: Whispers on July 19, 2009 at 3:13 AM | PERMALINK

If Clarence Thosmas HAD been aborted, his contributions to Supreme Court deliberations would be about the same.

Posted by: Richter on July 19, 2009 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

When one considers the source just remember we are talking about Todd Tiahrt...not the greatest mind.

Posted by: te on August 14, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK
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