It’s not supposed to be this easy. The act of demonizing “the other” political party can be a bit of a tic, a reflex, an automatic piling-on often prone to anything but civility. But it all makes sense, the demonizing is justified when “the other party” seems to go out of its way to alienate, obfuscate, distort and flat-out lie — when that party does everything it can to remain “the other.”
Rep. Todd Tiahrt of Kansas takes point in the latest effort of the Republicans to isolate themselves from the mainstream of this nation. With a character assassination that was breathtaking in its scope, Tiahrt spoke July 16 from the floor of the House of Representatives, and showed just how desperate the Republicans have become.
Tiahrt had previously filed an amendment with the House Committee on Rules to bar use of taxpayer dollars to pay for publicly-funded abortions in the District of Columbia. The Rules Committee rejected the amendment out of hand.
The amendment, co-sponsored by Tiahrt and Rep. Lincoln Davis, a Tennessee Democrat, would reinstate a 14-year-old prohibition on such abortions, a ban that Democrats had removed from an appropriations bill at President Obama’s request. On Thursday he expressed his opinion in the House.
Opposition to the President’s plan is one thing. What Tiahrt said was something else again:
“If you think of it in human terms, there is a financial incentive that would be put in place, paid for by tax dollars, that would encourage…single parents, living below the poverty level, to have the opportunity for a free abortion. 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 those similar circumstances. If that financial incentive was in place, is it possible that his mother might have taken advantage of it? Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice, if those circumstances were in place, is it possible that we’d have been denied his great mind?”
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It's never easier to defeat an adversary than when the adversary defeats himself. Tiahrt's impugning of the morals of mothers, his cynical cheapening of the value of African American life may be the most brazen act of political self-immolation since ... since Mark Sanford got back from Argentina. Political suicide was never so willfully transparent. Or apparently so occasioned with inaccuracies; ThinkProgress.org weighs in on its Web site:
“Setting aside Tiahrt’s questionable decision to list only African-Americans as candidates for retroactive abortion, Tiahrt also makes the misleading claim that “70 percent of Americans oppose using public funds for abortions.” In reality, current law allows Americans to pay for abortion through their health plans, and a recent poll shows that 71 percent of the country supports maintaining the status quo by permitting a public plan to cover reproductive services.”
Tiahrt is running for the Senate, cranking up to make a run at the seat being vacated next year by Sam Brownback. You can only hope the good people of Kansas will take a hard look at the candidate between now and November 2010, to see what he's clearly capable of. And then think. Kansans, you deserve better than this.
Image credit: Tiahrt: Official House photo.