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Maybe It's Time for Komen to Change Those Pink Ribbons to GOP Red

Maybe It's Time for Komen to Change Those Pink Ribbons to GOP Red

We still have to read between the lines to glimpse the bottom line on the Komen Foundation's attack on Planned Parenthood, but the slowly emerging truth of the matter doesn't bode well.

Karen Handel, the Komen executive who resigned yesterday, has a weird talent for letting the cat out of the bag every time she tries again to toss the cat in the river. Speaking to her home-state newspaper yesterday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate reiterated her story about going to work Komen only to fight cancer.

But then in a statement the newspaper paraphrases rather than quotes directly, the paper reports that she also told their reporter her job at Komen was to "shepherd the organization to 'neutral ground' with respect to the abortion issue."

Yeah. That's what we thought.

"Does it burn?"
"Does it burn?"

She said in her resignation letter that long before she went to work for Komen -- the personal fief of conservative Republican loyalist Nancy Brinker -- the foundation was already trying to find a way to get in on the right-wing blooding of Planned Parenthood.

That gets lost. This wasn't about the seven hundred grand that Planned Parenthood gets from Komen. This was about killing Planned Parenthood.

The far right is carrying out a jihad against Planned Parenthood -- an attempt to change its public profile from that of a deeply respected mainstream institution to the public image of institutional pariah. Komen was trying to put its own hard-earned mainstream heft behind that radicalism. Had Komen gotten away with it, this would have been a devastating blow.

Let's take Handel at her own unintentionally revelatory word. She says in her resignation letter that somebody at Komen was already trying to find a way to cut a vein at Planned Parenthood before she came on board. That would be ... let's see here, Sherlock ... that would be ... yes, Ms. Brinker, we believe, since Komen is entirely her own high tea party.

So Handel's brilliant contribution must have been the scheme to pass a policy saying Komen couldn't give money to any organization "under investigation," then cite an inquiry by a hare-brained Tea Party congressman from Florida, then cut off Planned Parenthood -- all to appease the anti-choice fringe.

What did the un-clever un-governor fail to consider? For one thing, within an hour of the announcement that Komen was cutting off Planned Parenthood, reporters and bloggers around the country began compiling lists of other entities still supported by Komen that were under investigations a hell of a lot more serious than the Florida goof-ball inquiry -- Penn State, for example, and right here in Dallas, at Parkland Hospital and its partner UT Southwestern Medical School.

But even more revealing is Handel's argument to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she did not intend for any of this to become "political" and that it was only Planned Parenthood that made it so. How could this not be political? Komen jumped flat-footed into the middle of the only political issue in this country that may be even more volatile than race -- abortion. What? They jumped in the ocean, but it was never their intention to get wet? What does the word, political, even mean to her? Does it mean controversial?

Well, sure, they wanted to pull this off but avoid any damaging blowback to themselves. That's like wanting to rob a bank but having a sincere and passionate desire not to get caught. Many of us might share similar feelings, but the resolution most of us come to is not to rob the damn bank.

I have to go back to some of my original assessment on a lot of this. This is another great oops moment in the Rick Perry tradition.

Now, some of you worthy Lawners out there got mad at me for blaming it on a "Texas echo chamber." You argued that the Northeast and the West Coast and Chicago all have their own echo chambers. True. Good points, all. I should have been way more precise.

Texas is a big diverse state with lots and lots of smart reasonable sophisticated people who wouldn't have touched this move with a 10-foot pole. This is not about a Texas echo chamber. This is about the dumb echo chamber.

This is about people who couldn't politically strategize their way out of a wet paper bag. And, if I may, at some point can we go back to another point that seems to be getting lost? What about the evidence showing that Komen gives barely a fifth of the money it collects to cancer research while the Breast Cancer Research Foundation gives almost 90 percent? Is that question worth revisiting?

The slowly emerging bottom line, meanwhile, will not go away soon. What emerges is a picture of Komen as a deeply conservative very political entity under the thumb of a rich Republican who thought it would be a good idea to slit Planned Parenthood's throat over the abortion issue.

That's what we will have to think about, next time somebody tries to pin a pink ribbon on us. Maybe, in the ultimate act of candor, Komen might agree to switch to red ribbons.


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