For weeks now, conservatives have been passing around heavily-edited videos that they think might finally give them enough of a push to kill Planned Parenthood. There are just a few problems with the plan: The videos are laughably fraudulent, and President Obama is at the “no bullshit” stage of his presidency.
Refreshingly, much of the faux-scandal about Planned Parenthood’s “selling of baby parts” has remained relegated to the furthest corners of the conservative blogosphere. The mainstream media, like most thinking people, took one look at the idea that the women’s non-profit health clinic was harvesting fetal organs to enrich themselves and rolled their eyes. However, Republican politicians didn’t wait for people to actually believe this nonsense, they immediately began to follow through on a pre-planned coordinated attack on the very existence of Planned Parenthood, which has been a thorn in the side of conservatives for years.
Escalating things in ways only Tea Party Republicans can manage, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and his right-wing extremist colleagues have begun openly discussing the idea of shutting down the government if their demands to completely defund Planned Parenthood aren’t met.
GOP firebrand Ted Cruz said Republicans should do everything they can to eliminate federal money for the group — even if it means a government shutdown fight this fall.
He’s not alone. On Wednesday afternoon, 18 House Republicans told leadership that they “cannot and will not support any funding resolution … that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood.” Meanwhile, GOP social conservatives like Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama said they’d consider supporting an effort to attach a spending rider that would eliminate Planned Parenthood’s $528 million in annual government funding to must-pass spending legislation this fall.
All signs point to a new government shutdown working about as well for Ted Cruz as the last one – that is to say, a complete and total disaster for Republicans. If America was tired of political stunts after the last shutdown, they are downright livid at the threat of one now. And despite Cruz’s hatred for women’s healthcare clinics, most Americans actually like Planned Parenthood. That’s hardly surprising, the organization helps millions of people a year – mostly with birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing, and counseling.
In other words, Republicans are once again careening towards a disaster of their own making and President Obama is happy to oblige.
One thing he won’t do, however, is allow Republicans to come between women and their healthcare decisions. In back-to-back press conferences, his spokesperson Josh Earnest talked about the world of hurt Republicans were facing if they decided to go through with this attack on women. On Thursday, when asked whether the White House would seek to tighten up Planned Parenthood’s procedures for fetal tissue research, Earnest slammed the pro-life funded “undercover” videos as “essentially fraudulent” and not worthy of taking seriously.
“I think Planned Parenthood has been quite specific about the policies and procedures that they have in place, and I know they have described those policies and procedures as living up to the highest ethical standards.”
“As I mentioned, based on the essentially fraudulent way in which these videos have been released, there’s not a lot of evidence right now that Planned Parenthood hasn’t lived up to those standards,” he said.
And then the very next day, Earnest was back at the podium issuing a veto threat to Republicans should they try to defund Planned Parenthood.
“What we have indicated in the past continues to be true today, that we have routinely opposed the inclusion of ideologically-driven riders in the budget process,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Friday. “And certainly a rider that would on a wholesale basis defund Planned Parenthood, which is the proposal of some Republicans in the House, is certainly something that would draw a presidential veto.”
This isn’t something President Obama is messing around with. In 2012, Mitt Romney tried to float the idea to gain a few cheap points during the election. Obama stood up for Planned Parenthood then too. He followed through again in 2013, when Republicans tried to kill funding for the non-profit during the budget fight.
So anti-choice Republicans now find themselves in a staring contest with a president who has routinely proven that he isn’t blinking on the issue. Cruz may be blustering. Some of the other presidential hopefuls are surely making noise and hoping it might get them noticed alongside Donald Trump. The Tea Party is clamoring. But this is yet another losing battle they can add to the embarrassing number of defeats they’ve suffered while bluffing with an Obama administration who has discovered all their tells.
Feature image via Pete Souza/White House