It’s Still All About Torture
April 27, 2009, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Ian | Tags: , ,

dawn Senate Republicans have apparently decided to stop blocking Kathleen’s Sebelius’ nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services, a nomination they previously objected to because Sebelius is pro-choice. Brian Beutler responds to this development with a really good question: why are they letting Sebelius through, but continuing to block Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to head OLC—a nomination they also claim to be blocking because Dawn is pro-choice.

This double standard makes no sense, particularly because it ignores the nature of the jobs which the two women have been nominated to.  As the nation’s highest-ranking health policymaker, Sebelius could play a significant role in setting federal policy on reproductive freedom.  Sebelius could seek to allow federal funds to be spent on abortions, or she could try to push through regulations that make an end run around the Hyde Amendment.  Indeed, Sebelius could play a greater role in setting Administration policy on reproductive health than any other Obama Administration official.

Dawn, on the other hand, has been nominated to give neutral, disinterested legal advice to the President.  The head of OLC serves no policymaking function, and is very unlikely to play any role whatsoever in shaping the Administation’s policy on reproductive freedom.

In other words, if the Republicans really cared about abortion, they would certainly want to keep a pro-choice official out of the Health and Human Services job; but they’d have no reason to care at all about the OLC job.

The only reasonable explanation is that their opposition to Dawn has nothing to do with abortion, and that the debate about Dawn’s pro-choice record is a red herring to distract from their real reason for opposing Dawn.  Given the GOP’s strident support of torture, and Dawn’s passionate opposition to it, I’m pretty sure I know what they are really worried about.


1 Comment so far
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I disagree, in part. I suspect the Republicans have decided to stop blocking Sebelius because of the optics of opposing the HHS nominee in the middle of a public health crisis.

That said, their opposition to Johnsen is, and always has been, about torture.

Comment by Salamander

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