Friday, April 21, 2017

A new slant to the GA-06 runoff -- women

In my previous writings about Jon Ossoff's campaign, I had emphasized the young people that he had attracted, with all their enthusiasm.   In a post-primary summing up, however, Jon is emphasizing the women who worked tirelessly on the campaign.

"This is a story about women in this community," Ossaff told MSNBC on Wednesday.   "This comes down to grassroots intensity. . . .  The thousands of volunteers and organizers, so much of it led by women who have been pounding the pavement and knocking on doors for months here in Georgia.  It's that kind of grassroots momentum that will carry us to victory on June 20."

How ironic, then, that their opponent in the runoff will be Karen Handel, who is not just any woman.   As Laura Bassett describes it for the Huffington Post:

"Handel gained notoriety in 2012, when she took aim at women's health care as an executive at Susan G. Komen for the Cure. . . .  [She] quietly drove the charity's controversial decision to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings because of her own opposition to abortion rights.  The Komen organization insisted its decision had nothing to do with abortion politics, but internal emails showed Handel instigated the move and strategized how to spin it because [she] wanted to break ties with Planned Parenthood.

"The Komen charity faced a huge backlash over the move:  A drop in donations cost the oganization $77 million, or 22 percent of its income, and Handel was forced to resign after several members of Congress and some of Komen's own affiliates demanded that she be fired.  Komen quickly restored the grants to Planned Parenthood after Handel left.

"Handel went on to publish a book about the incident, called Planned Bullyhood, in which she insisted that the decision to cut off grants to the family planning provider was 'nonpolitical' and ripped on the organization for fueling such a strong public backlash against Komen.

"'It's clear that Planned Parenthood went out of its way to paint me as some sort of zealot -- a Trojan-horse zealot who came into Komen, and within 10 to 11 months had completely turned the place upside down,' Handel wrote in the memoir.  'That's clearly not who I am and it's not what happened.'

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This issue will likely become a key controversy in the next two months leading up to the runoff.   Handel has been endorsed by several anti-abortion groups, while Ossoff has the backing of Planned Parenthood, which has already launched a six-figure campaign to support him.

For me, Handel has a right to oppose abortion and to campaign on it.   What I find objectionable is her tactics at Komen.   I very well remember the incident at the time.   At least the way it was widely reported in the media, she sought the job with Komen primarily for the purpose of doing just what she did.   She's right about one thing:   she was a Trojan horse zealot.  And she had the deviousness to keep quiet about what she was trying to do until she had accomplished her task.   She didn't go in and try to convert the folks at Komen to being anti-abortion.   That would not have worked.  Apparently no one caught on to what she was doing.  It all just blew up afterwards.

It needs to be clarified that these Komen grants were not going for abortions at all but were to pay for breast cancer screenings, which is one of the main services that Planned Parenthood provides.   But it's like some conservatives in congress, who refuse to let any money go to any group that also provides abortions, even if the grant money is sequestered and not used for abortions.

Karen Handel is not someone I want to represent me in Congress.


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