David Lewis is running for Congress as a Republican in Ohio's Eighth Congressional District for the seat House Speaker John Boehner currently holds. To be kind, Lewis doesn't stand a chance. To be not as kind, the establishment press is using Lewis's candidacy as an excuse to attempt to cast doubt on the ability of Tea Party activists and the GOP establishment to get along. To be clear, there's plenty of reason for the existence of such doubts, but David Lewis's candidacy is certainly not one of them.
To the chagrin of the GOP establishment, I'm a fan of serious primary efforts, especially against incumbents who may have lost their way. But Lewis's effort is not serious. It is fundamentally flawed in its premise and completely miscasts Boehner's current prolife record. It also has given the press an opportunity to distort the priorities of the Tea Party movement.
Lewis's one and only issue, as reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer, is "Boehner’s support of a federal budget that provided funding to Planned Parenthood, which Lewis calls 'the largest killer of unborn babies in America.'"
The truth -- and shame on the Enquirer's Sheila McLaughlin for not reporting it -- is that Boehner held out for an outcome which for the first time in memory did NOT provide direct federal funding to Planned Parenthood, as Fox News, doing the work that McLaughlin, the Associated Press and others wouldn't do, reported on Saturday (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Republicans had fought to ban federal funds for Planned Parenthood, a health care services provider that is also the nation’s largest provider of abortions. But Democrats rejected the proposal. Republicans settled on a compromise to distribute federal funds for family planning and related health services to the states rather than directly to Planned Parenthood and other organizations.
It is true that in many states, the result will not change, as many of the will choose to continue to direct money to Planned Parenthood. But some are choosing not to. Predictably, they are running into authoritarian opposition from both the judicial and executive branches.
In Kansas, the courts are forcing the issue:
Kansas Appeals Ruling Forcing it to Fund Planned Parenthood
The state of Kansas will appeal the latest ruling from a federal judge forcing the state to send taxpayer funds to the Planned Parenthood abortion business. The state announced it will comply with the most recent decision.
Late Tuesday, a judge ordered the state to send taxpayer funds to the abortion business following complaints from it that it lost state public funding. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten ruled that Kansas must fund the abortion business even though it did not cancel an contracts with the agency that were in effect at the time a new state provision went into place denying taxpayer funding via the family planning program to any agencies that do abortions.
Marten, in his ruling, also rejected the state’s request to only give Planned Parenthood taxpayer money on a monthly basis while its lawsuit moves forward rather than in a quarterly lump sum covering three months. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Western Missouri had complained earlier Tuesday that it would have to close its Hays, Kansas abortion referral clinic by Friday if the judge did not order the stand to fork over tax money to fund it.
In New Hampshire, the Obama administration has just exposed its authoritarian face after the Granite State tried to redirect Planned Parenthood funding:
Obama Forces New Hampshire to Fund Planned Parenthood
Late Tuesday, the Obama administration made a decision to force New Hampshire taxpayers to fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business after the state’s Executive Council voted to revoke a $1.8 million contract.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it will provide the contract for family planning with Planned Parenthood directly from the federal government to the abortion business rather than routing the money through the state and letting New Hampshire officials determine who should receive the Title X grants. The council voted against funding because Planned Parenthood does abortions and its top officials earn big six-figure salaries.
HHS's move appears to constitute a lawless act. The compromise described earlier sends money to the states to be used as they see fit within specified parameters. The Obama administration doesn't like what New Hampshire is doing, and is arbitrarily and without requisite authority usurping the state's legislated autonomy. If a Republican presidential administration were doing something analogous, the press would be all over it.
Someone needs to tell challenger Lewis that these disputes would not even be occurring if it weren't for the Boehner-driven compromise providing state autonomy. Instead, funding for Planned Parenthood would still be freely flowing directly from the federal government without the states having any say in the matter. To the extent that challenges are occurring, judges and Obama administration officials are exposing themselves, at least in the aforementioned instances, as authoritarians and tyrants.
I might have missed it, but I don't recall any of the twelve Congresses controlled by Republicans from 1995-2006 doing anything, or even trying to do anything, about the Planned Parenthood problem. The first Congress headed by Speaker Boehner did something -- not enough, in my view, but certainly enough to make Lewis's claim that Boehner "doesn’t really believe in the pro-life issues" obviously and utterly ridiculous. That Boehner engineered any kind of improvement in a situation where his party only controls one-half of one branch of government should be seen as impressive but not totally surprising, given his 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee.
In light of the above, I would suggest that Mr. Lewis expand the scope of his candidacy beyond the single issue just identified, on which he is clearly wrong, and move to more potentially valid criticisms concerning the relative timidity of the results of fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012 attempts at spending control. Absent such expansion, David Lewis's candidacy is utterly without foundation, as is any legitimacy to his self-identifying claim that he is a "tea party activist." Lewis is a "pro-life activist." There's nothing wrong and a lot right about that, but that's all he is. I would also suggest, based on what I know of Tea Party activities in Clermont County, where Lewis is based, that his claim to be a "Tea Party leader" is more than a little suspect.
One thing Lewis has done is give the nation's gleeful establishment press a chance to connect fiscally-oriented Tea Party sympathizers with the (supposedly disliked) pro-life movement. Though most legitimate Tea Party activists likely feel that life issues are extremely important and are probably strongly pro-life, by definition they would not run entirely on the single issue of Planned Parenthood abortion funding as Lewis is. Though comparison by search results isn't conclusive because of the passage of time and the expiration of news stories, it appears that Lewis's challenge announcement is getting as much or possibly more attention than antiwar, anti-Bush darling Cindy Sheehan's 2007 announcement that she would challenge Democrat and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Thanks for nothing, pal.
Icing on the cake: Lewis lives in the Cincinnati east exurb of Batavia, which is roughly 25 miles from the closest edge of Boehner's currently drawn Eighth District. Lewis says he'll move into Boehner's district if he wins the primary. Zheesh.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.