Struggling to answer the eternal question, “What the bleep just happened?,” Komen for the Fail staff seem to think they were outgunned by that political powerhouse called Planned Parenthood. Laura Bassett writes,
The backlash against Komen was intense, including threats of violence, angry letters from members of Congress and public rebukes from political figures such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The charity struggled to deal with the pressure, especially in a face-off against Planned Parenthood, an organization whose fine-tuned political team has experience in these high-pitched, high-stakes debates.
It was speculated that Komen founder Nancy Brinker hired her friend Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, to help her handle the crisis. But Fleischer told HuffPost that he had no part in guiding Komen’s strategy on this issue except to recommend an outside crisis management firm.
“It’s just sad for everybody concerned,” he said on Friday. “Komen is a great group, but politically speaking, they’re no match for Planned Parenthood.”
The Komen insider agreed with Fleischer’s assessment.
“Komen’s not equipped to spend its days fighting political battles,” the source said. “Abortion is not our issue, and I think [leadership] tried to finesse a way out of it, and this investigation criteria was the solution. And it blew up in their faces. They were just naive in the face of [the] incredibly sophisticated Planned Parenthood operation.”
If this description of Planned Parenthood as some invincible political juggernaut has you scratching your head, you are not alone. I do think there’s truth in the argument that Planned Parenthood has a lot more experience with bad PR than does Komen, which mostly has just basked in public love and good will until recently. But if Komen thinks the backlash was entirely orchestrated by Planned Parenthood, this tells me Komen doesn’t yet know what bit it.
BTW, Bassett writes that an unnamed source within Komen confirms that Karen Handel was the main driver of the decision to defund Planned Parenthood.
Stunned by the fallout, Komen leadership decided within three days to reverse the Planned Parenthood decision and apologize. But the Komen insider said Handel was furious about the cave and fought against it up until the point that it was announced Friday morning.
“It became clear Thursday night that something had to give,” the source said. “Nancy Brinker, Liz Thompson, the board, and leadership were saying, ‘We’re really worried about Komen’s mission if we don’t figure this out.’ But Karen was still arguing against it as of Friday morning — she was horrified that we were caving, she said. She’s politically tone-deaf.”
In light of the political damage and the abrupt reversal of the Planned Parenthood funding decision, pressure has mounted inside Komen for Handel to resign.
“Everybody in the organization wishes she would do the right thing,” the Komen insider said.
Handel no doubt considers herself to be the innocent victim of left-wing terrorism. Soonergrunt writes,
As long as SGK can delude itself into thinking that they were mau-mauâ€™ed by a very effective Planned Parenthood, they will continue this behavior, as will any other organization that learns that particular â€œlesson.â€ They are, along with their partners and friends in the conservative blogosphere, and apparently at the Huffington Post, working very hard to change the narrative of the story to one of bravely standing up to a shake down by a bunch of baby killers, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by those same baby killers rallying their baby-killing-loving supporters. Now perhaps, being a bear of very little brain, and liking honey too much, I didnâ€™t notice the huge PR push by Planned Parenthood. I thought it looked like a huge number of women reacting to the betrayal by a charity that claimed to be all about womenâ€™s health, taking a huge shit all over another organization that is primarily about womenâ€™s health. But that is because I donâ€™t suffer from the siege mentality that conservatives live under.
Speaking of a seige mentality, you must read Roy Edroso’s analysis of the rightie blogosphere on the Komen Fail in The Village Voice. It’s a hilarious but unsettling look into the bottomless abyss that is the right-wing brain.
As I discussed yesterday, polls going back several years show us that a majority of Americans think abortion should be legal. They may want some restrictions, such as gestational limits, to elective abortion, but I doubt very much of the electorate at large would put ip with a ban on all elective abortions, including first trimester abortions.
But more than that, Americans are not going to put up with any restrictions on birth control. And I hope that the Komen incident woke up some who have been complacent, that if we don’t start pushing back, pretty soon birth control as well as abortion may be driven underground, or put out of reach for some of us.
Wingnuts cannot, will not, understand this. They cannot accept that their ideas are in the minority. They think that if there is a backlash to their positions, it must be coming from some powerful elite left-wing fringe, not “real Americans.” That’s why they so badly miscalculated the Komen debacle, and why they will continue to miscalculate.