Last night the “official” Republican response to the State of the Union address was delivered by Washington representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who didn’t engage in any distracting large motor activities.
Rodgers made the encouraging assertion that the current Republican Party “trusts people to make their own decisions, not a government that decides for you,” and then a bit later that “Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government’s. And that whether you’re a boy with Down syndrome or a woman with breast cancer … you can find coverage and a doctor who will treat you.”
But obviously that is not at all what Republicans believe, as earlier in the day nearly all of them had voted to prevent women from choosing to access abortion care, and they regularly endorse efforts that would allow health care providers, in the guise of “religious freedom,” to refuse to treat people on the basis of their personal beliefs about those people. Most notably this “freedom” to selectively do one’s job has involved pharmacists who don’t believe that people should use birth control, but it can just as easily be invoked to refuse all kinds of medical care to all kinds of people, care like hormone replacement therapy, fertility and prenatal care, and cancer treatment.
I have been given to understand that the Republican Party has acknowledged some image problems resulting from attempts to explain their positions on reproductive health care. So they’re working to fix that. But having a woman present the same glib denial of their actual policy positions doesn’t help. It’s not the (admittedly offensive and ignorant) way that the recent rash of Republican men have been mansplaining Republican policy positions, it’s the policy positions themselves.
In other news, it was the overreach by Virginia Republicans in 2011 – when they abused their control over the process to substantially change a bill with a different purpose into an anti-abortion bill, a bill that would otherwise never have survived and become law – that resulted in yesterday’s wholesale takeover of the Senate by the new Democratic majority. There was no other reason but that blatant bill hijacking for the rule changes adopted yesterday, changes that give the rules chairman the authority to kill any future bills so hijacked. Naturally, Republican senators are outraged. But the only valid reason for their outrage is that they now can no longer get away with a sleazy maneuver to burden Virginia with more dangerous and probably unconstitutional law. Once was enough.
“This is about the integrity of our committee process,” [Henrico Sen. A. Donald] McEachin said. “All this amendment does is say: ‘Take a time out. If there is a new policy issue raised that is substantially different, then send it to committee, in this case the Rules Committee, for disposition.’”
Former Senate majority leader Tommy Norment (James City) seems to have been especially upset, and made what I can only interpret as an accidental admission about his designs on the original bill:
He tried to pin McEachin down on the definition of “substantially.” The Democrat said that would be when an amended bill raises policy issues not contemplated by the original bill.
“Is it in the eyes of the beholder?” Norment shot back.
As they say, elections have consequences.