White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s press conference raised eyebrows for numerous reasons on Thursday, including her comments on low test scores as a result of school closures, but she also commented on the subject of political dissent.
RealClearPolitics reporter Philip Wegmann asked the spokeswoman her thoughts on the concept of “semi-fascism” and how it applies to the issue of abortion.
“Does the president believe the effort to restrict abortion, whether it is at the local level or the federal level, to restrict that freedom, does he believe that is semi-fascism?” Wegmann asked at one point in the exchange, according to a RealClearPolitics transcript.
Jean-Pierre said, “He was very clear that MAGA Republicans in Congress have an agenda that is extreme, and that is what you hear from them. A national ban on abortion is extreme and is not in line with a majority of where Americans are… It is taking away peoples’ [sic] freedoms and he believes that is an extreme agenda.”
REPORTER: "Does the President believe that the effort to restrict abortion […] is 'semi-fascist?'"
KJP: "He was very clear that MAGA Republicans in Congress have an agenda that is extreme." pic.twitter.com/Wu8QrHhKgU
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 1, 2022
“Specifically with regard to limiting these freedoms, I guess what I’m asking is — the Supreme Court created this space for the anti-abortion movement at the state and perhaps a federal level. Where do they fit into this? How would the president describe them after this decision? Are they just extremists or are they part and parcel of semi-fascists?” Wegmann pressed.
The press secretary did not hold back in her response and remarked that she believes it’s considered an extreme point of view when an idea is different from most Americans.
“Here’s what I’ll say. We continue to see attacks on peoples’ [sic] fundamental rights. With Americans on new abortion laws across the country. We have national Republicans who are leaders in their political party who sit in office who say they want to take away the rights, even in cases of incest and in case of rape, and taking away a woman’s right to make a decision on her body, that is extreme. The president is going to call that out and do everything he can to protect peoples’ freedoms, and that is important to call out and talk about. And again, we see the majority of Americans who disagree,” Jean-Pierre said.
“And if you are not with where the majority of Americans are, that is extreme. That is an extreme way of thinking,” she added.
NOW – White House: "When you are not with what majority of Americans are, then you know, that is extreme. That is an extreme way of thinking." pic.twitter.com/MpiwE9bRlx
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) September 1, 2022
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe, state governments are now in near total control of how they want to handle abortion. Some states have taken a liberal approach, like California, while others have made the practice illegal with few exceptions. Many who are in favor of abortion access believe that the practice should still be legal on a federal level, but are pushing on the state level to further the cause.
The topic of political extremism has arisen in recent days, as President Joe Biden is slated to speak Thursday night on “the continued battle for the Soul of the Nation,” as the White House describes it. It’s likely to set the tone among Democrats as the competitive midterm election is only a little over two months away.