Anyone who has known me for longer than about 30 minutes knows that I am a Boston Red Sox fan. After the collapse in the 1986 World Series, that experience was, for about 15 years, an unmitigated experience of misery and the addition of reasons for Red Sox fans to nurse their massive inferiority complex with respect to the New York Yankees. However, beginning in the late 90s, Sox ownership began once again to make an earnest effort to field a winning team, and Sox fans were once again treated to meaningful baseball in September – even if we still inevitably finished behind the Yankees and then were (usually) eliminated by them in the playoffs.
2003 was the first year Sox fans had reasons to believe that things might be different. Position for position, it was the first year since the mid-80s that the Sox had fielded a team that stacked up more or less equally with the Hated Yankees. During this season, the Sox were managed by an affable fellow named Grady Little. Grady was well liked (maybe even loved) by his players, who credited him with creating a loose atmosphere in the clubhouse and making Boston a place where good players wanted to play. During the two years Grady managed the team, the Sox won a nearly unprecedented (in recent history) 188 games.
That year, of course, the Sox and the Hated Yankees met in the American League Championship Series, an epic affair that came down to a decisive Game 7 with Pedro Martinez on the mound for the Sox. The Sox had a 2-run lead going into the 7th inning, but a truly epic series of strategic blunders by Grady Little (I won’t recount them here) frittered the lead away and the Yankees once again emerged victorious. It is one of the few times in modern history that a manager has decisively cost his team an important game.
In the offseason, the “smart set” sports commentators opined that it would be crazy for the Sox to fire Grady Little even after his ignominious performance in the most significant game in recent Sox history. They wrote, quite reasonably, that Grady had brought the Sox to heights unheard of since the heady days of 1986 and that ownership should just show patience and expect the fans to be thankful that the margin between the Sox and Yankees was smaller than it had been in recent memory.
Thankfully, Sox ownership ignored all this eminently sensible advice and Grady was not invited for a return for the 2004 season. By doing so, a clear message was sent to applicants for the job of Sox manager: there comes a point, and the point is now, that giving it the old college try and coming in a close second is not enough. After having spent millions of dollars and countless effort building a team that had the promise and ability to beat the Yankees, they expected this team to actually, you know, beat the Yankees. The rest, of course, is history, as the last 11 years have arguably been the most successful in Sox history (the disastrous current season notwithstanding), including a victory in 2004 over the Hated Yankees in the ALCS and their first World Series title in decades.
So, this little baseball historical aside, let’s talk politics for a minute.
Every two years, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, I bring myself to take a couple hours off of work, brave traffic going in the wrong direction, stand in long lines, and vote. With the exception of a single vote cast for Marion Berry (the pro-life former Democrat Congressman from Arkansas, not the crack smoking former mayor of DC) back in 2002 or so, I have voted every single time for every Republican on the ticket.
Like most Republican voters, I’ve had mounting frustrations with failed promises on the part of the GOP since the much ballyhooed Gingrich revolution in 1994. However, my pragmatism has always gotten the better of my frustration and I have always reasoned with myself that, however feckless and impotent the Republicans were, they were better than the Democrats. At least the Republicans did not have legalized infanticide up until the date of delivery enshrined in their party platform, I always reasoned with myself.
No more. I’ve reached the point where GOP Failure Theater has no longer become tolerable, especially with respect to the abortion issue. I’m not one of those people who threatens to leave the party over every little thing that comes along. I’ve been pretty restrained with the third party rhetoric and the “everyone stay home” anger, in fact believing that they are counter productive.
But I’m laying down a marker today: I’m not stepping in a voting booth again as long as Planned Parenthood continues to receive Federal funding. The end.
This isn’t asking the impossible or unreasonable of the Republicans who are currently in office. If there’s one thing Congress still has unequivocal control over, it’s the federal budget. If they don’t appropriate money, it doesn’t get spent. This is one thing where Obama can’t do an end run around what Congress wants. They have the absolute power to force this issue.
The only thing Obama can do is veto any funding bill for HHS that does not include funding for it. In other words, Obama has to be willing to kill a whole bunch of other associated funding just for the sake of keeping the relatively small piece of the pie that Planned Parenthood gets. No doubt, he is probably willing to do that, but any person possessed of even basic political skill and will should be salivating at the thought of forcing him, in the midst of a slow-motion PR disaster for Planned Parenthood, to shut down a government agency just to keep these butchers at the government trough.
The current plan set forth by [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ], which [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] is pointlessly trumpeting as a victory for pro-lifers, is obvious and rank Failure Theater. Defunding Planned Parenthood through a standalone bill a) is an easy and cost-free veto for Obama, even if we suppose the Dems in the Senate won’t protect him from having to veto it at all, and b) is quite possibly a Bill of Attainder and therefore unconstitutional. No one possessed of an ounce of sense believes that this tactic will work, or that the bill will pass.
The standalone defunding bill is a transparent attempt to dupe pro-lifers into believing that McConnell and his lapdogs take this issue super seriously and are really just doing the best they goshdarn can, and when it inevitably falls flat on its face they will come to you next year and say that what they need more money and votes to send more castrati just like them to Washington so that eventually, at the magical time when Republicans control all 100 seats in the Senate, plus the whole House, plus the Presidency, something can finally be done about this meddlesome business.
The American public opposes taxpayer funding of abortion by a 68-28 margin. I haven’t seen polling on this issue specifically, but I would imagine they are opposed to the sale of dismembered baby parts by an even wider margin. This is not an issue where anyone risks political suicide by taking a stand.
Republican voters and donors have exhausted a lot of energy, time, and money over the years getting the GOP to a better position than they have been since the late 1800s. Sure, Democrats have won the last two Presidential elections, but it is difficult to overstate how unimaginable a Congress controlled this thoroughly by the GOP would have been throughout most of the 20th century – when Republicans often could barely scrape a count of 125 in the House – to say nothing of the unprecedented number of Republican governorships and state legislatures.
The conservative movement has delivered to the GOP a team that should be able to at least occasionally score a substantive victory against the Democrats. The problem is that both chambers of the U.S. Congress are run by strategists who make Grady Little look like George Patton by comparison. They are so laughably bad at actually achieving conservative victories that one might suppose (with good reason) that they are trying to lose on purpose.
As for me, I’ve had enough. Don’t come to me with your hand out asking for anything anymore until this one tiny thing has been accomplished. You’ve got enough manpower to get this one thing accomplished and if you don’t, you can just take your Grady Little butts off into the sunset of retirement for all I care. I don’t want “we tried,” I want results. Until you can figure out how to deliver them, good luck finding another sucker come next November.