Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 30, 2011

SO MUCH FOR MR. SERIOUS.... About a month ago, Time's Joe Klein noted his disgust with the Republican presidential field, lamenting the fact that the candidates are "a bunch of vile, desperate-to-please, shameless, embarrassing losers." The whole lot looks like a "dim-witted freak show."

But, Klein said, the field may not be set. The columnist pleaded with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) to run. "I may not agree with you on most things, but I respect you," Klein said. He added that Daniels seems to respect himself enough not to behave like a "public clown."

This is an extremely common sentiment. Daniels, the former Bush budget director who helped create today's fiscal mess, is supposed to be The Serious Republican Candidate For Serious People. He has no use for culture wars -- Daniels famously called for a "truce" on these hot-button social issues -- and despite his humiliating record, the governor at least pretends to care about fiscal sanity, earning unrestrained praise from the likes of David Brooks.

Perhaps now would be a good time for the political establishment to reevaluate their opinion of Mitch Daniels.

Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana said Friday that he would sign a bill cutting off Medicaid financing for Planned Parenthood, a move that lawmakers in several states have begun pondering as a new approach in the battle over abortion. Indiana becomes the first state to go forward.

Abortion rights supporters condemned the decision, saying it would leave 22,000 poor residents of Indiana, who use Planned Parenthood's 28 health facilities in the state, with nowhere to go for a range of women's services, from breast cancer screening to birth control.

Daniels, who apparently no longer has any use for his own rhetoric about a culture-war "truce," said his decision was dictated by the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortion services, adding that the health organization can resume its state funding by refusing to help women terminate their unwanted pregnancies.

That only 3% of Planned Parenthood's operations deal with abortions, and that public funding of abortions is already legally prohibited, apparently didn't matter.

What's especially striking about this is how cruel and unnecessary it is. Daniels has been governor of Indiana for more than six years, and he's never had a problem with Planned Parenthood funding. He was Bush's budget director for more than two years, and he never had a problem with Planned Parenthood funding.

But now that he's thinking about running for president, and has hysterical right-wing activists to impress, now Mitch Daniels has suddenly discovered Planned Parenthood funding -- which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades -- is no longer acceptable to him.

It's not as if Planned Parenthood, its mission, or its menu of health services has changed. The only thing that's changed is the radicalism of new Republican Party and those who hope to lead it. The real-world effect of Daniels' cruelty is unmistakable: fewer working-class families will have access to contraception, family planning services, pap smears, cancer screenings, and tests for sexually-transmitted diseases. Indiana has 28 Planned Parenthood centers in the state, and most of its patients live in poverty.

Also note that this was as clear a test of Daniels' purported principles as we've seen to date -- he had to choose between fiscal considerations (millions of dollars in federal health care funding) and culture-war considerations (cutting off a public health organization to satisfy rabid conservatives). As of late yesterday -- Daniels made the announcement late on a Friday afternoon, probably out of embarrassment -- the governor prioritized the latter over the former. To prove his right-wing bona fides, Daniels decided to put politics ahead of women's health.

Ironically, the Republican who claims to oppose abortions is going to make it more likely more women will have unwanted pregnancies.

It's indefensible. Daniels should be ashamed of himself and the pundits who praised Daniels' "seriousness" should feel awfully foolish right about now.

Steve Benen 11:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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In his statement, Daniels said that he had determined that women in all 92 Indiana counties would continue to have adequate access to medical care.

What does he consider "adequate"? Most rural counties in this country do not have adequate medical care to begin with much less after you deny affordable access to the PP clinics.

Posted by: arkie on April 30, 2011 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

What's not to like, if you're a Republican? Score points to those who will vote for you by whacking those too powerless to fight back, who wouldn't vote for you even if you left them alone. Makes perfect sense.

I think the "Republican Cold Civil War" of the past 30 years is heating up. We may yet have to finish off the unfinished business of 150 years ago.

Posted by: TCinLA on April 30, 2011 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Out with "Planned Parenthood!"

In with, "Oooops! Parenthood? PARENTHOOD!!! Parenthood..."

And I'm sure every looney-tune rightie (but I repeat myself) Governor is looking at this as a blueprint.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 30, 2011 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

he had to choose between fiscal considerations and culture-war considerations

Planned parenthood or unplanned poverty. I wouldn't argue that his principles have changed since he worked in the White House.

Posted by: Danp on April 30, 2011 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Daniels IS getting serious.

He has to be seriously nasty, hateful, and uncaring to be considered a Republican leader - he's just now getting serious about proving that he's smarmy enough to qualify.

Posted by: Mark-NC on April 30, 2011 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Klein would be better served if he stopped writing columns like this. It makes him look ridiculous. There are no good Republican candidates because there are no good Republican public policies. Everything they have advocated, implemented, and still believe has already failed miserably (and disastrously). Simply pointing out that half of them are ignorant shameless carnival freaks accomplishes nothing. If the voters are stupid enough to elect any of them we will have another Great Depression and we will be finished as a world power. What is Klein's goal, settle for another George W. Bush and declare a moral victory?

Posted by: max on April 30, 2011 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Well, if you want the real scoop on Daniels, especially his supposed economic miracles, head on over to the blog "Bats Left Throws Right." It written by in in-stater.

Posted by: map106 on April 30, 2011 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

@Mark-NC - plus one to that. Surest sign so far he's seriously considering a run.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on April 30, 2011 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Daniels is 'serious' only by the ridiculously low standards the beltway idiots have set.

In the real world he helped orchestrate one of the worst economic performances in Presidential history.

They lowered taxes during a f'n war. That alone should destroy any credibility the man is purported to have.

Posted by: Holmes on April 30, 2011 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

yep. he's teeing up a run. Let's face it - this is easy for republicans.

To defend PP requires that we say " they only use 3% for Abortion" so , we get painted into using the A word;

Then, we have to say " you are denying health care and etc. to poor women" so we have to use the "p" word; or Gasp! talk about women-centric health, which means, you know, gulp, talk about breasts, and pap smears, and such.

and then we have say how else will many women get
birth control, so then we have to talk about the s word [sex].

So its a perfect sexist repulican trifecta; abortion, poor people, sex. 3 things republicans either hate to discuss, or love to frame their simplistic, misogynistic, dystopian Randian bullshit with.

Posted by: bigtuna on April 30, 2011 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Boy I am SO glad I stayed home in Nov 2010 to 'teach Obama and the Democrats a lesson'.

Look how well it's working out!

Never mind the GOP is slowly destroying the country, at least I have my purity and hopes for a Kucinich presidency someday

Posted by: Really principled liberal douchebag on April 30, 2011 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Just as Republicans use deficit fears as a dog whistle for eliminating the social safety net, so too are these "it allows money to be used for -gasp- abortions" a coded attack on contraception for the poor.

As has been noted, Republicans only worry about "right to life" during the period between conception and either the birth of the child or the death of the mother. What's really going on is that women are having s*x voluntarily - and the Republicans, like their Taliban mentors, want this stopped.

Posted by: RepubAnon on April 30, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I've been watching Daniels because with the circus show that's been going on in the GOP you always knew it would be him or Jeb. He screwed the pooch on this one. I (and I daresay any woman) will never vote for someone that has decided that women's health is expendable. How dare he and the Republican legislature in his state. I've had it with these sanctimonious peckerheads.

Posted by: SYSPROG on April 30, 2011 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Daniels knows it's not a "culture war." It's a class war. Daniels is strafing the hospitals of his foes.

Posted by: Doug N on April 30, 2011 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Daniels's is part Syrian. I can't wait for one of his opponents to notice. OTOH, his lack of "seriousness" probably will go unnoticed. Dim bulbs like Dan Balz and Joe Klein would have nothing to write about w/o it.

Posted by: Rich on April 30, 2011 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

For all their talk about "Sharia law," the only party that resembles the Taliban is the Republican party.

Posted by: Mac on April 30, 2011 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I guess this raises the question of who you want for the GOP nominee. I mean, sure it's best that it be someone who loses. But what if Obama gets increasingly unelectable? Is Daniels the best we can hope for?

I think I'd prefer Romney. Somebody with no principles other than getting elected may do less harm than somebody with completely wrong principles.

Posted by: beejeez on April 30, 2011 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Serious queestion, does Planned Parenthood perform ANY abortions AT ALL in Indiana?

My understanding has been that PP only provides abortion services in a few areas where all of the other providers have been driven out of business and that in those areas, it sets up separate clinics that only perform abortions in order to maintain a strict separation of the funds it receives to subsidize other women's health services from those it raises and/or spends on abortion services.

Not knowing how successful the religious radicals in Indiana have been at shutting down abortion providers, I have no idea whether PP actually has any clinics that provide abortions in that state.

Posted by: tanstaafl on April 30, 2011 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

But now that he's thinking about running for president, and has hysterical right-wing activists to impress,

Someone ought to pull the execrable Daniels aside and explain to him that, as President (an office he will thankfully never hold), he would have responsibilities to the entire nation, not just the wild-eyed, knuckledragging American Taliban on the far right. It would be nice too if, one day, probably in some alternate universe, we could get a candidate for President who didn't just cavalierly toss whatever beliefs they profess to have out the window in their desperate bid for the big chair.

Posted by: John on April 30, 2011 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't they just bring back mandatory chastity belts and be done with it. All those filthy sluts, most of 'em black. What's a clean living young man to do? Oh, hello Father.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on April 30, 2011 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Its not about abortion its about defunding what is seen as democratic programs using abortion as the catalyst.

Posted by: Kill Bill on April 30, 2011 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

All of the underserved population should pick a day in the next month and go the ER and register on that day. The ER will be the site providing care once PP is destroyed, and the ER should have a count of the number who will be coming. In some areas, it will be in the thousands.

Posted by: POed Lib on April 30, 2011 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

The takedown of Planned Parenthood is creepy but more to the overall point of Daniels and the hypocrisy of Republicans: "Daniels, the former Bush budget director who helped create today's fiscal mess, is supposed to be The Serious Republican Candidate For Serious People." Yeah, how interesting, now that debt and deficits have suddenly been found so horrible ... Indeed, a man of the Cheney/Bush misadministration, apparantly quite OK with acting President Cheney's line "Reagan taught us deficits don't matter" .... What, you mean something Reagan taught us isn't true anymore? Well, if most teachings of Jesus can be jettisoned by them (pray in private, help the needy, take the log out of your own eye, let he who is without sin ... etc.) I guess it's all up for grabs (quite literally.) Least surprising in all this: that Villager prick and Repimplican Joe Klein would latch onto Mitch Daneils.

Posted by: neil b on April 30, 2011 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Everybody who can should make a donation to PP "In Memory of Mitch Daniels". A note will be sent to him if you give them his address.

Posted by: montag on April 30, 2011 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose a person can't be a "pundit" without acknowledging the GOP as a principled organization, or its representatives as principled people.

But #1) it's not, and #2) they're not.

Which is why "pundits" are as useless as tits on a bull.

Posted by: JW on April 30, 2011 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Another clean-handed murderer.

Posted by: buddy66 on April 30, 2011 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, where are the young educated professional women as this crucial national election approaches? Are they going to sit around and watch a bunch of ignorant old white males force them back into the middle of the last century?

Posted by: max on April 30, 2011 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Well said. I hope this gets spread wide and far. The callous cruelty of this sociopath will damage so many lives. One just cannot be too radical or insane to run for the GOP ticket. The entire party should be run over a cliff due to their desire to destroy the people's democracy.

Posted by: bjobotts on April 30, 2011 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: max on April 30, 2011 at 11:51 AM |

Right on. Well said Max.

Posted by: bjobotts on April 30, 2011 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Steve said:"It's indefensible. Daniels should be ashamed of himself..."
I love Steve because he still gives the benefit of the doubt to Republican politicians. However, can anyone remember shame from a Republican politician?

Posted by: BuzzMon on April 30, 2011 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Mitch Daniels: if you have a vagina and can't afford health care, well , f--k you.With think like that he is going to be strong candidate for the Republican nomination.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on May 1, 2011 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone with the courage a d resources to expose republicans who have funded abortions for a family member or sex partner? I cannot believe these hypocrites don't have some pretty nasty secrets they'd pay good money to keep secret.
Any takers?

Posted by: st john on May 1, 2011 at 4:16 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: POed Lib

All of the underserved population should pick a day in the next month and go the ER and register on that day. The ER will be the site providing care once PP is destroyed, and the ER should have a count of the number who will be coming. In some areas, it will be in the thousands.

I Likee !

Posted by: FRP on May 1, 2011 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK
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