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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Wednesday, March 04, 2009

    The Curious Case of Kathleen Sebelius

    That Kathleen Sebelius has been appointed as Department of Health and Human Services secretary by Barack Obama is no surprise.
    (Sebelius' pro-abortion record is clear. Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council says she is "arguably the most pro-abortion governor in the nation." Austin Ruse has said that she "never met an abortion she didn't support including partial birth abortions.")
    That many "identity-Catholics" should support Sebelius' appointment is little surprise to me. These "id-Catholics" include the likes of Doug Kmiec, Nicholas Cafardi and Lisa Sowle Cahill, representing Catholic universities such as Boston College, CUA, Georgetown, etc. And shame on them all, they might have chosen to remain silent and thereby retained a bit more integrity than Catholics United, which has perfected the art of twisting and abusing the name "Catholic" for political gain.
    (The American Life League has a petition up to stop Sebelius' appointment, by the way, if you are looking for a way to register your complaint with Obama's choice to nominate an abortion extremist.)

    That pro-life figures such as Senator Sam Brownback should also support her appointment, however, has been a great surprise to many, for instance, pro-life blogger/activist Jill Stanek. It wouldn't be unfair to describe the reaction of the pro-life community as "stunned."
    So what's going on here? Politics.
    Brownback and Sebelius are home-state rivals from Kansas: she the pro-abortion governor, he one of their two pro-life senators. Speculation has been going for months that in 2010 Sebellius and Brownback could well collide for an elected office: either Sebellius challenging Brownback for his senate seat or Brownback trying to become Kansas governor.
    Brownback, therefore, can be personally relieved that it appears Sebelius will be "kicked upstairs" by this HHS nomination (presuming that all goes well). It saves him two worries.
    Unfortunately, Brownback's decision to support the Sebelius nomination, from the outside, reads like this editorial:
    Maybe Brownback, who is running for governor of Kansas in 2010, calculated the odds and saw he will gain more by earning respect from the state's moderates than by staying in the good graces of the single-issue anti-abortion groups who are so riled up about Sebelius's nomination.

    Now, I don't quite agree with this assessment. I'd say Brownback is trying to think outside the box by recognizing common ground in someone he doesn't have the possibility of defeating directly. These are tough times for the pro-life movement, and even if Sebelius were defeated during the nomination process, her replacement could easily be just as bad.

    That said, he didn't have to say anything. I think he weighed his options and made his choice. Now he has to deal with the justified anger of his pro-life collaborators over the choice he made.

    update: this added wrinkle makes Brownback's choice more clear (underlining added):

    “Sebelius is term limited and can't run for governor again and Brownback is honoring his term limits pledge in the Senate, so there is no Brownback versus Sebelius fight to avoid. Brownback does however ensure his Senate seat stays red and pro-life if Sebelius is in Washington. {from "KS" in the comment box.}

    Brownback is doing a very simple thing it seems to me: if Sebelius had stayed in KS she could have come after his senate seat when he had to leave it (having promised to term-limit himself). At the same time, her governor's chair would be coming free and he can now run for it, perhaps with the added appearance of "bipartisanship" provided by his support for her HHS nomination.


    update 2: it's also my understanding that, contrary to this report, Sen. Brownback has not decided at this point whether he will vote for Sebelius during the confirmation process.

    update 3: scratch update 2....

    [Brwonback] wavered yesterday, at first saying through a spokesman that he wasn't going to say whether he favored or opposed her.

    Then, at 6 p.m., his spokesman called and said Brownback would back her after all. That came after learning from me that political opponents were starting to take shots at Brownback. (source.)


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