09 November, 2008

The president-elect's pro-life halo suddenly evaporates

The president-elect didn't take long to put the lie to all those Catholics who said he'd be a pro-life president, really!

Obama himself has signaled, for example, that he intends to reverse Bush's controversial limit on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, a decision that scientists say has restrained research into some of the most promising avenues for defeating a wide array of diseases, such as Parkinson's.*
Perhaps embryonic stem cells aren't "alive", or "fully human", and besides abortion is more serious, so Obama can still win the medal for most pro-life president, no? Uhm, no:
The new president is also expected to lift a so-called global gag rule barring international family planning groups that receive U.S. aid from counseling women about the availability of abortion, even in countries where the procedure is legal, said Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he rescinded the Reagan-era regulation, known as the Mexico City policy, but Bush reimposed it.
Less than a week after the election, more than two months before the inauguration, and one wonders whether the senator's pro-life defenders are having their doubts.

Don't get me wrong: My beef here isn't with Sen. Obama. He is merely fulfilling promises he made during the primaries, promises that were entirely consistent with his career in the Illinois and federal legislatures, even if he remained silent on them during the general campaign.** No, my beef here is with those Catholics who actively campaigned that Sen. Obama's halo would diffuse a pro-life effect into the general population. They shouldn't feel too bad; they've only known Sen. Obama a short while. The Rev. Wright knew the senator for decades: conducted the senator's marriage ceremony, inspired the title of the senator's book, and so forth. The good senator claimed one week that he could no more disown the Rev. Wright than he could disown his own family. One week later, he changed him mind on that, too. Chin up, guys! You still have four years to "hope" he'll "change".

Isn't it a shame that more pro-lifers didn't listen to the ignoble, fear-mongering McCain campaign that kept trying to divide us by pushing that right-to-life button?—Oh, wait. McCain didn't do that, just as he never fulfilled Obama's prediction that his campaign would remind everyone how Obama doesn't look like all those guys on the back of the currency. That's probably because McCain didn't have the money, right? He stuck with public funding, as per his promise, whereas the pure, sincere Obama…uhm, never mind.

Since (a) I'm still stewing over this, and (b) they're still helping me, I'll turn and bash The Washington Post some more. The Post's Ombudsperson*** has now joined the chorus of staffers admitting that Post journalists were the ones engaged in fear-mongering… against McCain.
The op-ed page ran far more laudatory opinion pieces on Obama, 32, than on Sen. John McCain, 13. There were far more negative pieces about McCain, 58, than there were about Obama, 32, and Obama got the editorial board's endorsement.**** The Post has several conservative columnists, but not all were gung-ho about McCain.
Is there a Pulitzer Prize for understatement? If so, that should win one. Has anyone ever caught George Will writing even one positive word about McCain? I don't recall that Will ever endorsed Obama, but he never shied from sharing his opinion that McCain wasn't qualified even to be a Senator, let alone a President. Reading George Will is fun, don't get me wrong—but, wow.

Back to the Ombudsperson:
Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got, especially of… his start in Chicago and his relationship with Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who was convicted this year of influence-peddling in Chicago.
By this point the majority of the Post's readers have quit, but those who are left are suddenly asking themselves, Who? That's how thorough the Post's coverage has been. Never mind, the man's president already. No point in running such a story now, is there? 'Twould only be "divisive".

The ombudsperson even concedes criticism that their coverage of Palin amounted to a smear job:
One gaping hole in coverage involved Joe Biden, Obama's running mate. When Gov. Sarah Palin was nominated for vice president, reporters were booking the next flight to Alaska. Some readers thought The Post went over Palin with a fine-tooth comb and neglected Biden. They are right; it was a serious omission. However, I do not agree with those readers who thought The Post did only hatchet jobs on her.
(Emphasis added.) I agree with the ombudsperson: the Post did not run only hatchet jobs… They only made sure the even positive stories contained an anti-Palin spin. Did you notice that, unlike her comparison of the positive/negative stories on Obama and McCain, she doesn't provide a count of hatchet vs. non-hatchet pieces on Palin? I'd love to know that.

That's okay; unnamed "former McCain staffers" are now making sure that the press will have fodder for the next four years. Apparently certain Republicans think their man ought to be the next in line for the nomination, not this upstart hockey mom from Alaska who had the temerity to sell the govenor's plane on e*Bay.*****

*We'll also pretend in the article that Bush was "upending" Clinton's policy, whereas in reality—if journalists would only bother to do some research—Clinton's policy was more restrictive than Bush's. Bush, for the first time, allowed some federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. I remember how unhappy I was with the news.

**Historians will call this the Dean strategy. You read it here first!

***Ombudsperson: The Post is, for some reason, still using sexist, exclusive language. Would they call the head of a Congressional committee the chairman? Someone directing traffic a policeman? Then why call Deborah Howell an Ombudsman? Can only men ombuds? We in the Academy have overcome such things: it's chairperson, police officer, and Ombudsperson.

They could always follow the New York Times' lead and call her the Public Editor, whatever that's supposed to mean.

****Mentioning that the Post gave Sen. Obama their endorsement strikes me as disingenuous. The Post had to endorse someone, and after all those negative articles on McCain, they'd be fools not to endorse Obama. The real problem, which she omits, was that the Post's endorsement of Obama reached such heights of dishonesty that it contradicted previous page A01 news reporting and editorials. I've covered this before (footnote **** in the link), so I won't repeat it here.

*****I won't bother looking it up, but the Post tried to put a negative spin on the airplane sale, too.

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