Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards is one of the classiest ladies ever to "live on the greatest nation that’s ever been on the face of the Earth," as the next speaker of the utterly classless Republican House, Kevin McCarthy, would put it.
What a contrast it was as Richards testified yesterday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, two hours of which I watched last night on C-Span's replay. Throughout, Planned Parenthood's chief executive was gracious, heroically controlled and graceful, while her Republican Inquisitors once again proved themselves a disgraceful pack of venomous buffoons. All I can say on Chairman Jason Chaffetz's behalf — and this would be considered a compliment in his quarters — is that he made former Chairman Darrell Issa look reasonable.
Any House hearing thrusts on the viewer a deliberative choice. Are Republican committee members as stupid as they sound, or are they feigning profound imbecility so as not to elevate themselves above the 51 percent+ back home? As with most things, one's deliberation splinters into specific cases. When it comes,
for instance, to Blake Farenthold (right), the former choice is incontestable. Chaffetz, though, is brilliantly moronic as he plays to the cameras.
As was the "evidence" he offered — such as that halfwitted graph he presented, which clearly and horrifyingly showed that Planned Parenthood's cancer screenings are now dwarfed in numbers by the abortions it performs. All one needs to do — and plenty promptly did so — is observe that the graph's actual numbers defied its "X" trajectories. (As for the horrifying decline in cancer screenings, that comes from the medical community's recommendations.)
From there, Jason Chaffetz — a vastly overpaid demagogue who junkets the world on taxpayers' dime — assaulted the stunningly dignified Cecile Richards on her salary and organization's travel expenses. The sickening irony of this line of inquiry need not be repeated. Ms. Richards also had to explain, repeatedly, that mammograms are performed by radiologists, who tend to do their work in radiology labs — not neighborhood Planned Parenthood clinics.
Chaffetz, however, was not to be outdone in the category of best theatrical buffoon. That award went to Ohio's Jim Jordan, who "interrupted Richards 19 times in five minutes" as he relentlessly demanded satisfaction for a question that Richards was relentlessly answering.
Not once did any Republican committee member — lawmakers all — acknowledge that abortion is legal, nor did any seem to comprehend that the federal government doesn't simply "cut a check" to Planned Parenthood every year for nearly $500m. Like other healthcare providers, Richard's organization is merely reimbursed by Medicaid for services performed; it also receives, in a much lesser amount, Title X grant money for family planning.
Perhaps Title X could be amended to include a bit of congressional planning? Jesus! We thought the 113th Congress was bad.
At least the 114th's historic awfulness was highlighted yesterday via radiant contrast: Cecile Richard's awesome gracefulness.