Political Animal


February 21, 2012 3:46 PM Handel Begins Martyrdom Tour

By Ed Kilgore

Those who might have thought we’d heard the last of Karen Handel are, unfortunately, wrong. Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the former Komen Foundation vice president and Republican politician, who resigned after her efforts to institute or maintain (depending on whose story you believe) a cutoff on Foundation funding for Planned Parenthood, is going to appear at Virginia’s famed right-wing Patrick Henry College this very evening. She’ll be publicly interviewed by none other than Marvin Olasky, the former George W. Bush advisor who is a very heavy hitter on the Christian Right.

According to Olasky:

When Karen Handel earlier this month bravely criticized Planned Parenthood executives’ ‘shakedown to coerce a private entity to give them grants,’ many on the pro-abortion side were furious with her. This interview will give students a chance to hear and question one of this month’s big newsmakers, and to see that a woman can knock over one of our contemporary idols and survive.

Oh, I’d say she’s surviving just fine.

For those of you unfamiliar with Patrick Henry College, it’s definitely one of the Christian Right’s most important power centers. Founded by Virginia-based homeschooling advocate Michael Farris, PHC is very much intended to serve as an elite transmission belt for bright young hard-core conservative evangelicals (a majority of them homeschooled) into entry-level jobs on Capitol Hill and (at least in Republican administrations) the Executive Branch.

I can’t imagine a better site for Handel to begin her martyrdom tour, and her return to politics. Just wait and see.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Josef K on February 21, 2012 3:57 PM:

    Those who might have thought we’d heard the last of Karen Handel are, unfortunately, wrong.

    My first thought here was "Who?". Then I read the rest of the post, my next thought being "Oh, her.".

    I figured she'd find some way to worm back into political discourse. I'll count our blessing that, for the moment, she's confined herself to right-wingnut land.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on February 21, 2012 4:04 PM:

    What exactly is it with the Extreme Right? They love talking that mumbo-jumbo about "meritocracy", but every time you turn around they're embracing some loser who demonstrably couldn't do their job properly. I guess they just have slim pickings from the reject bin.

    Ah, far-right privilege. Wish I could eff up my job and get a cushy speaking gig to talk about my effed up ways to people more effed up than me...

  • Cybrguy on February 21, 2012 4:10 PM:

    Has anyone studied the effects of home schooling on college entrance exams or admissions? I suspect most home schooled students don't go on to college, or if they do they end up in schools like Patrick Henry that wouldn't require them to have the same requirements (prerequisites) of most other "real" colleges and Universities, but I have no data to evaluate that hypothesis. Does anyone else?

  • Cybrguy on February 21, 2012 4:23 PM:

    In an effort to answer my own question I went here: http://learninfreedom.org/colleges_4_hmsc.html
    as well as some other sources. It may be interesting to find how successful those admitted are in college and afterward, though "success" may be kinda hard to tie down in any objective way... ;)

  • Hedda Peraz on February 21, 2012 4:31 PM:

    Cybrguy, Liz Cheney is a "success" and thereby both a barometer and a career path.

    We will have to wait a bit to judge the Santorum spawn.

  • Cybrguy on February 21, 2012 4:49 PM:

    Good example, Hedda, though I suspect that the Cheney's are probably not typical of home schooling parents. While it may not seem like a fair assessment, I would bet that the majority of home schooling parents aren't that bright (or billionaires), practically by definition. Obviously that is MOHO rather than a statement of fact.
    Shall we take bets on whether the Cheney's themselves were home schooled?

  • Cybrguy on February 21, 2012 4:56 PM:

    Oops, Liz Cheney was NOT home schooled, at least for high school...
    "Cheney is one of two daughters of former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Second Lady Lynne Cheney; her younger sister is Mary Cheney. Cheney graduated from McLean High School (1984), where she was a cheerleader. She received her bachelor's degree from Colorado College, where she wrote her senior thesis, "The Evolution of Presidential War Powers," (1988)

  • Kathryn on February 21, 2012 5:57 PM:

    Is there any indication that the Cheney family is in the least religious, not that I care? My memory of that unit was total silence regarding their church attendance, etc. Not that home schoolers are 100 per cent evangelical, but it seems like the majority have a religious component. Even when Dick Cheney was physically sound, it's impossible ( for me) to imagine him on bended knee praying ever.

  • Sister Artemis on February 21, 2012 6:14 PM:

    Just a comment on the home-schooling issue...

    Right now home schooling is getting lot of attention because a large number of right-wing religious political folks are talking up their own home schooling, or advocating it to protect their children from us whacked out liberals. In addition, there is definitely a trend within that camp to raise their kids as "Christian Warriors" ready to take on the godless world, in part by keeping them unaware and isolated from the rest of the world through home schooling. They may also get a good foundation in the "three R's" but the focus is on raising kids as culture warriors for the right.

    But at the same time, there are MANY home-schooling families who are much more even-handed in their approach, regardless of their particular religious or non-religious perspective. And in my town (Eugene, Oregon) home schooled kids are actually connected within a network (along with other home schoolers) though our school district. These kids are in contact with lots of other kids, do field trips and other activities together, and seem to have good academic skills as well as true awareness of the diverse society around them.

    My own daughter went to public school, but some of her friends were home schooled, and several friends of mine over the years chose home schooling. Their approach was definitely different than that of the far-right religious home school families, seeking to broaden their kids' perspectives, not limit them by "protecting" them from the world around them. These kids have gone on to successful college studies, because (I think) they were raised to use their brains, accept that there are many world views, and are confident in their academic abilities.

    I bring this up because, though I adamantly chose public school for my own kid, I support the choice of families to home school, and have seen it be a good choice. I hate to see that sort of wise parenting and schooling mixed with the more isolated home schooling that many on the religious right advocate -- they really aren't the same thing, and I wouldn't want the concept itself lambasted in general, when it's a specific approach to home schooling which seems to be the problem.

  • Steve P on February 22, 2012 9:00 AM:

    "For those of you unfamiliar with Patrick Henry College, it’s definitely one of the Christian Right’s most important power centers."

    And it's piggybacked onto this meme:
    "Patrick Henry University
    A fictional university, considered "the most prestigious" of the universities in the world of Ayn Rand's book. It was attended by John Galt, Francisco d'Anconia, and Ragnar Danneskjöld, where they met and became friends. Hugh Akston and Robert Stadler taught there. After Akston's retirement, his position at the university is taken over by Dr. Simon Pritchett. It is located in Cleveland, Ohio."

    But you have to call yourself a "college" when your credits are relatively worthless for transfer credit.

  • Derek in Iowa on February 22, 2012 12:28 PM:

    Nobody who cares even a little about preserving reproductive freedom in this country should ever again give one thin dime to the Komen gang, Handel or no Handel. She was just the hatchet-woman, brought in by "Ambassador" Brinker (a long-time Republican operative) to do the dirty work of cutting off Planned Parenthood. Brinker (who is still running Komen despite her obvious preference for politics over women's health) was just trying - and will continue to try - to implement the agenda her bosses in the Republican Party want her to implement, which is whatever will make the bigots on the Religious Right happy. Where women's health is concerned, Komen is an enemy, not an ally. To coin a phrase, they need to be shrunk down small enough that we can drown them in the bathtub, while we work on creating a new breast-cancer organization that will focus on saving women's lives instead of advancing the Republican Party's agenda.

  • Rick Massimo on February 22, 2012 2:22 PM:

    "Those who might have thought we’d heard the last of Karen Handel are ..."

    ... clearly 11 years old, tops.

  • Iggy on February 22, 2012 4:37 PM:

    I was wondering where she would pop up next. Doesn't suprise me really. Shamed in the real world and cannonized in 'their' world.