Culture wars

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 30, 2009

A couple of notes on the ongoing culture wars:

  • NBC is rejecting CatholicVote's pro-life ad for Sunday's Super Bowl broadcast that I highlighted earlier this week. NBC and the NFL say they don't take issue or advocacy ads. As points out, that wasn't the explanation given earlier this week when PETA's racy ad was rejected; they were directed to tone down the sexual nature of the ad. NBC, of course, has every right to refuse to air CatholicVote's ad. However, it should come as little surprise that there appear to be drastically different standards for ads from the right than ads from the left.
  • Sen. Bob Casey, who rode his dead father's name to a victory over Sen. Rick Santorum back in 2006, has turned out not to be the pro-life champion his father was.
  • Pro-choice zealots like to claim, falsely, that pro-lifers don't care about babies after they're born. Well, the pro-choicers yesterday showed that they only care about babies after they are born.

    During the Bush administration, President Bush displayed his concern for both mother and unborn child by putting an administrative rule in place allowing states to cover unborn children in the SCHIP program. On Thursday, the Senate rejected an amendment to make that administrative rule national law.

    This is foolish even by Democrats' standards. These are babies that their mother's want to be born (pro-choice!), yet the Democrats don't want to respect that choice. Also, from a strictly fiscal standpoint, mothers without adequate pre-natal care are more likely to cost SCHIP more after the baby is born than it would have if pre-natal care had been covered. The administrative rule remains, but is subject to President Barack Obama's whims.

  • Finally, the head of President Bush's successful program to reduce of AIDS in Africa, a rather non-political political appointment, Dr. Mark Dybul was unceremoniously ousted from his job last week. Michael Gerson reports:

    While I worked at the White House -- from 2001 to 2006 -- I saw Dybul combine the ability to build bipartisan consensus for PEPFAR on Capitol Hill with exceptional compassion for the victims of a cruel and wasting sickness. It mattered little to the Bush administration that Dybul was openly gay or that he had contributed to Democratic candidates in the past. He was recognized as a great humanitarian physician -- a man of faith and conscience -- almost universally respected among legislators, AIDS activists, foreign leaders and health experts. Almost.

    A few radical "reproductive rights" groups -- the fringe of a fringe -- accused Dybul of advocating "abstinence only" programs in AIDS prevention. It was always a lie. Dybul consistently supported comprehensive prevention efforts that include abstinence, faithfulness and condom use -- the approach that African governments themselves developed. In fact, Dybul was sometimes attacked from the right for defending a broad definition of AIDS prevention, including programs to address prostitution and transgenerational sex. Over the years, PEPFAR distributed 2.2 billion condoms -- hardly an "abstinence only" approach.

    By encouraging Dybul to stay until his successor was in place, the Obama administration displayed a generous spirit, as well as a practical concern for continuity in a vital program.

    Then, the day after the inauguration, Dybul received a call asking him to submit his resignation and to leave by the end of the day. There was no chance to reassure demoralized staffers, or PEPFAR teams abroad, or the confused health ministers of other nations. The only people who seemed pleased were a few blogging extremists, one declaring, "Dybul Out: Thank you, Hillary!!!"

    So much for the new politics.


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January 2009



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