Yes, He Did

Bush Administration, Republican Party

You’re going to love this one, folks — Christopher Lee writes in the Washington Post

The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as “demeaning to women.”

You can pause to reflect on this development, if you like. I’ll wait.

(whistling)

Ready now? We’ll continue —

Eric Keroack, medical director for A Woman’s Concern, a nonprofit group based in Dorchester, Mass., will become deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the next two weeks, department spokeswoman Christina Pearson said yesterday.

Keroack, an obstetrician-gynecologist, will advise Secretary Mike Leavitt on matters such as reproductive health and adolescent pregnancy. He will oversee $283 million in annual family-planning grants that, according to HHS, are “designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons.”

This appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

A bit of googling revealed that Keroack is also a Big Cheese in the “abstinence” movement who goes about lecturing people on “The Physical & Emotional Consequences of Pre-marital Sex.” Yes, just the guy you want in charge of a $283 million program to provide access to contraception.

One wonders where Bush’s head is, or if he has a head at all. Steven Thomma writes for McClatchy Newspapers:

President Bush made nice with the Democrats for the television cameras after they won control of Congress, complete with pictures filled with handshakes, smiles and vows of working together. He even tossed Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld over the side, making many people think that maybe he was going to move more toward the center and reach out for bipartisan openings.

But the agenda he’s sent to Congress since then is full of Republican proposals that have no chance of winning bipartisan approval, enrage Democrats, rally his conservative base and appear to be intended to paint Democrats as obstructionist.

When the President’s approval ratings are hovering in the low 30s, and the people just returned Congress to the Democrats, one wonders if the public will perceive Bush as being the “obstructionist.”

Bush has resubmitted several judicial nominations that had been blocked even before last week’s elections. He’s asked again that the Senate confirm John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. And he’s urged approval of warrantless eavesdropping on suspected terrorists without any accommodation to Democrats’ demands that a court sign off on the spying.

From an editorial in today’s New York Times:

The voters sent a clear message last week that they do not want the far right of the Republican Party calling the shots in Washington. But President Bush has ignored the message, resubmitting a group of archconservative, underqualified judicial nominees that Senate Democrats have already said are unacceptable. With the Democrats about to take control of the Senate, it is highly unlikely that these men will be confirmed. But the renominations suggest that when it comes to filling judgeships, Mr. Bush is still not looking for either excellence or common ground. …

… Beyond their ideology, these nominees embody values that the American people rejected in the midterm elections.

The editorial provides background on the nominees and explains why they are unsuited for the positions to which they were appointed. The interesting question, to me, is why is Bush still pulling this crap? Can he still believe that cater-to-the-whackjob-base, wedge issue politics is still a good strategy after the thumpin’ he just took? Or is it that he jus’ cain’t he’p bein’ an asshole?

Rosa Brooks writes in the Los Angeles Times:

THEY GOT HUMBLE on Nov. 8 — and stayed that way for four whole days, until President Bush announced that he was resubmitting the nomination of John “Mustache of Death” Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.

For the normally bellicose Republican leadership, four days was actually a good long spell of humility. So long, in fact, that even some hardened veterans of the White House press corps briefly succumbed to the fantasy of bipartisanship, churning out stories of a chastened White House eager to reach out across the aisle and across the ocean, cuddling up to the multitude of lawmakers, citizens and foreign states it had so assiduously alienated in that long, dark era stretching from 2000 to Nov. 7, 2006 BT (Before Thumping).

But all good things come to an end.

Bolton was just a warmup. Bush quickly indicated that he also planned to renominate his most controversial and extremist judicial nominees, and he pointedly let it be known that he didn’t actually give a hoot what the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton commission recommended about Iraq, unless it happened to come up with a plan he already liked. Over in the Senate, unrepentant Republicans handed a coveted party leadership position to everyone’s favorite segregationist admirer, Mississippi’s Trent “They Don’t Call Me Minority Whip for Nothing” Lott.

Brooks points to a new Agriculture Department policy that 11 million Americans who are short of food are not “hungry”; they are experiencing “low food security.” She continues,

We should have known better than to take postelection Republican humility at face value. For the GOP leadership, calling for bipartisanship after the election was the political equivalent of the narcissist who, oozing sincerity, says, “But enough about me, tell me what you think of me.”

Translated out of Republicanese, “bipartisanship” means “but enough of me forcing my policies down your throats! Now it’s time for you to embrace my policies!”

For the past ten days conservatives have been consoling themselves with the belief that they lost the midterms because they hadn’t been conservative enough. Conventional wisdom on the Right says that “the base” (e.g., “white rednecks who go to church on Sunday“) didn’t turn out in sufficient numbers. I am not inclined to dissuade them of this notion. If anything, I’d like to suggest they dig faster and use bigger shovels. But that’s me.

The fact is, the “base” turned out just fine. The Right got shellacked because moderate, independent, and suburban voters ran from them, screaming. And they did so not just because Republicans were a tad loose with taxpayers’ money or got into some ethics jams. They also did so because the GOP just plain moved too far right on social, economic, and foreign policy issues for most Americans to stomach.

Back to Eric Keroack and the WaPo article linked above:

White House spokeswoman Dana M. Perino cautioned against reading a larger pattern into the recent moves, saying, “You have to look at these things in isolation.”

Translation: We don’t want you to notice the pattern.

She added: “The president has said we will look to reach common ground where we can find it.

Translation: Democrats can kiss my rightwing ass.

However, he’s not going to compromise on his principles.”

Bush has principles? Who knew?

Update: Keroack is too far right even for John Podhoretz:

K-Lo, there’s something thrillingly countercultural about the thought that the Bush administration has apppointed an opponent of contraception to a job at HHS dedicated to getting out the good word about contraception. The only thing better would be to appoint a vegan activist to the job of Chief Meat Inspector. That said, the statement you quote by Eric Keroack — “the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness” — is pretty astounding. It’s one thing to oppose the sexualization of teenagers, particularly teenage girls. But Keroack calls contraception “demeaning to women.” Sorry, but yes, I think that’s pretty crazy.

K-Lo (Kathryn Jean Lopez) had written,

Passing out contraception without any deeper context or conversation is degrading and disrespectful — to men and women. Tell me I’m crazy.

I was tempted post Ms. Lopez’s email address but decided to be a lady and abstain. It’s not hard to find, however.

Update update: See also Tristero.

Update update: See also Jessica at Feministing. Keroack is one creepy dude.

Another update: See Andrew Sullivan.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. moonbat  •  Nov 17, 2006 @9:54 am

    It’s pretty obvious that Bush has stepped up the fight against the librul elites with these deadend nominations. Sort of like a cornered Jesse James or small town criminal who isn’t going to be taken by the law but will instead go out shootin’. I hope he and all of the right get hung by Dr Anti-Contraceptives who’s in charge of $283 million for family planning.

    The whole thing reminds me of that creationist flack who tried to water down the Big Bang theory at NASA.

    You can’t make this stuff up, the script writes itself. Once again the right has no sense of irony. They absolutely cannot hear the rest of the world laughing at America.

  2. erinyes  •  Nov 17, 2006 @9:59 am

    I’ve tried to understand principles of Bush and his base, but my little mind is incapable of such a grand feat.They claim to be Christians, but exempt themselves from the main teachings of Christ and the Christian Religions such as turning the other cheek, not killing, being honest,etc, etc.
    I suppose the twisted reasoning behind the “sinful” regard of providing women with contraception is they will be treated as sex objects.I see fear as the driving force behind all things republican.
    Every issue from gay marriage, stem cell research, contraception, abortion, immigration, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and even Hugo Chavez is driven by fear.
    The Florida white church going rednecks I know did not vote for bush because they consider him a liar. He lied about the reason for the war, and they don’t see their lives better for it, especially after the high price of fuel and record profits for the big oil companies.
    Strangely, had fuel prices gone down after the invasion of Iraq, even if the situation “on the ground” ( I can’t believe I used that overused phrase) were still as bad, if fuel prices were affordable, Bush would still be polling high.So much for the teachings of Christ, money trumps all.

  3. felicity smith  •  Nov 17, 2006 @12:19 pm

    The motives behind some Bush appointments are pretty transparent but then we come to his appointment of Mel Martinez to replace Ken Mehlman. It was Martinez who concocted that memo on how the Repubs should deal with the Shiavo case – the resulting performance of which angered just about every half-way bright American and not only didn’t win over any new converts to the GOP, but also managed to lose not a few..

    So what does Bush do but appoint Martinez, the brilliant strategist of that sorry affair to be the new big gun at the RNC. I’ll say it again, Bush’s thinking processes are seriously flawed.

  4. Ray Dobson  •  Nov 17, 2006 @2:38 pm

    Next: Bush appoints Ian Paisley as US envoy to the Vatican.

  5. Donna  •  Nov 17, 2006 @7:09 pm

    We’ve heard that Republicans like to put their immediate family members on the gravy train, so it’s no surprise that they extend nepotism to their cousins, the weasels.

  6. anonymoose  •  Nov 17, 2006 @11:00 pm

    Yes, contraception is a very effective form of mass self-genocide. It will cede the future of mankind to Osama bin Laden and his ilk. Please read Mark Steyn’s recent book: “America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It”.

  7. Zeus  •  Nov 18, 2006 @1:54 am

    Two points:

    #1) The democrats get a pass on their bipartisanship pledge until they officially take over in January. And then they had better get out their magifying glasses to examine the signing statements that are sure to be attached to any bills that they pass. I think that the veto pen will continue to stay safely in the drawer – can you imagine Georgie vetoing the minimum wage bill? No, but I can imagine a signing statment along the lines of: I, George W Bush, the decider, will decide that Halliburton can pay less than the minimum wage when our country’s national security is at stake.

    #2) After reading of Bush’s controversial appointment of Eric Keroack as the new deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, (ie in charge of women’s reproductive lives), I read that his references include being the director of the non-profit A Woman’s Concern (counsels women on pregnancy, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, etc). I decided to check out the site to see for myself how one can determine if an organization is pro-this or anti-that. Once at the site, it took only one click of the mouse to know what this organization is all about. Under the Frequently Asked Questions section: Sex – no such thing as safe sex – there is only safer sex, specifically ABSTINENCE; Adoption – great choice; Parenting – call us for more info; Abortion – GRAPHIC DETAILS!

    This oughtta shut up Dr. Dickhead Dobson for awhile. Good choice Georgie.

  8. maha  •  Nov 18, 2006 @7:12 am

    “Yes, contraception is a very effective form of mass self-genocide.”

    Oh, that’s good. I haven’t heard anything that nuts since the X-Files were cancelled.

    Personally, I’d think listening to flaming idiot Mark Steyn would be a more effective form of mass self-genocide.

  9. elephty  •  Nov 18, 2006 @4:38 pm

    The democratic leadership has to wipe the smiles off of their faces, and end the useless and senseless glad-handing. Cheney is still at the helm. The republican leadership intends to bury the democratic republic and the Democratic Party.

    The republican leadership continues to work behind the scenes to convince Americans that an oligarchy is the correct form of governance. They continue to torture, kill civilians, and sacrifice American soldiers’ lives.

    They consider the democratic victory to be an aberration due to the exposure of their tactics and intent in rapid succession leading up the election. They will work to achieve one political party rule. They will work toward surrendering America to corporate rule.

    They will not see their own mistakes because they do not believe that they make any of them. They will ignore all relevant issues concerning overpopulation, global warming, pollution, business regulation, and further their agenda to destroy and undermine the middle class.

    The republican leadership remains paranoid of the American people; because they are the one force they feel that they will have to contend with when the economy collapses due to the dishonest and myopic vision of the relationship between big business and the people.

    The threat from the neo-cons remains just as real today as it was on November 6, 2006. We cannot rest, because they do not. The republicans refuse to believe that by ignoring discoveries in the social, biological, and psychological sciences, while maintaining a fake adherence to Christian values, will make our nation the least innovative, motivated, and dynamic among the developed countries.

  10. AlanDownunder  •  Nov 20, 2006 @5:01 am

    By the time Dubya departs, there won’t be left a single government henhouse without a fox in charge.