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How to be a Hack, Fred Hiatt Edition




Above: Now that’s how you compromise on abortion policy!

Today, the editorial board of the Washington Post honors the memory of David Broder with a pitch-perfect parody of Both Sides Doitism.  The thesis: the Republicans holding the nomination of Loretta Lynch hostage to try to leverage Democrats into accepting restrictions on abortion in an anti-sex trafficking bill shows that Democrats are the obstructionist party now. How could anyone possibly defend such a transparently nonsensical assertion?  Behold:

DEMOCRATS WHO have been filibustering the Senate’s consideration of legislation to combat human trafficking cited concerns with language they claimed would greatly expand the reach of Hyde Amendment restrictions on abortion.

You have to love the wording here. Democrats are merely “claiming” that the language would extend the reach of the Hyde Amendment, implying that there’s a dispute about the facts and Democrats might be making it up. A more accurate way of writing this would be “Democrats oppose this version of the bill because it would extend the reach of the Hyde Amendment.” But the way the editorial is worded does demonstrate a skill that’s important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals! Except the weasel.

This skill is also evident in the next sentence:

But when John Cornyn (R-Tex.), chief sponsor of the trafficking bill and Senate majority whip, offered a compromise that would seem to answer their stated objections, it was rejected out of hand.

You have to like the “would seem” wording. You might think from this that the new version of the bill removes the abortion restrictions, so Democrats now have no reason to oppose the bill. But you would be wrong.

Perhaps Democrats thought they could score political points, or maybe they didn’t want to anger their traditional allies in the abortion rights lobby.

Now we’ve reached the heart of the matter. This is pure, distilled multiple times anti-abortion-rights contrarianism of the kind you don’t see quite as much anymore but must be due for a comeback. As always, the central premise is that Democrats can’t possibly have any principled reason for defending hysterical women and their silly reproductive rights; they must be caving to the immensely powerful abortion rights lobby which is preventing them from addressing real priorities. (Needless to say, similar aspersions are not cast on the motives of Republicans cynically using a bill about sex trafficking to both obstruct an executive branch nomination and try to restrict abortion rights. “Pro-lifers” are always assumed to be operating from a plane of the highest principle, even when their positions are a moral, legal, and intellectual shambles.)

Either way, it became depressingly clear that what they weren’t thinking about was the needs of vulnerable people, mostly young women and girls, who are the victims of sex trafficking.

Yes, if you really care about women who have been coerced into sex work, one way of demonstrating that is being indifferent about restrictions intended to make it more difficult for them to end unwanted pregnancies that have a high likelihood of being the result of sex they did not consent to. This isn’t just recycling brain-dead turn-of-the-century abortion contrarianism — they’re taking it to a new level.

The piece goes on to argue that newly amended language would merely preserve the status quo. But if this is true, why can’t the provision simply be stricken from the language altogether? Leahy’s objections to the new language are perfectly reasonable.  They also argue that Republicans are wrong to hold the Lynch nomination hostage…because it gives Democrats an excuse.

This is also great:

There is, as we wrote earlier this week, a reasonable way for the two sides to compromise on the trafficking bill, but both sides need to be reasonable. Sadly, that was not the case for Senate Democrats this week.

There is a compromise out there that would work. Republicans aren’t actually offering this compromise, but nonetheless Democrats should agree to the bill anyway or they’re the obstructionists. I can’t explain High Broderism any better than that, ladies and gentlemen.

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  • JKTH

    Both parties coming together to enact what Republicans want is a core tenet of the WaPo editorial board.

    • LosGatosCA

      That should be disclosed on every post related to WaPo editorial board. And maybe a check all-that-apply list to help.

      Debt fear mongering
      War mongering
      Entitlement ruin mongering
      Class-war-is only-for-the-rich mongering
      MIIC is civilization’s savior from DFHs mongering

    • cpinva

      there was a time when I could readily distinguish between the WP’s & WT’s op-ed sections, that time has long since passed.

    • Mike G

      I recall the Washington Pest’s article a few months ago hailing the “new bipartisan spirit of compromise” in Congress. They went on to laud three Dems who were willing to approve Repuke policies…but somehow couldn’t name any Repukes who would support Dem legislation.

  • c u n d gulag

    What should we call these oblivious “MORANS!”?


    They’ve sure got a gift for grifting Reich-Wing idea’s and policies, don’t they?

  • tsam

    No explanation of the language to which the Democrat party objects.
    No explanation of what “would seem to” ease their Democrat party concerns.

    Rate 7/10. Needs more accusations of Democrat party trying to murder all the babies because feminists hate men and are all lesbians therefore they need an abortion every week.

    • Hogan

      And not even a gesture toward an explanation of why this should delay the Lynch confirmation vote. Come on, Reid, just pay the ransom already. We can’t be wasting our time on human trafficking while there’s all this Netanyahu fluffing to do.

      • tsam

        I’m surprised they haven’t jumped on Durbin’s idiotic footbullet to explain why lieberals are the real racists and that’s a good reason to vote down Lynch.

    • Joe_JP

      The op-ed does provide some explanation:

      Democrats didn’t like the application of Hyde restrictions to funds that are not taxpayer dollars — the compensation fund was to be drawn from criminal fines — and they objected to the anti-abortion provision being in place for five years.

      We are then told:

      Mr. Cornyn responded by offering to create the compensation fund with an annual congressional appropriation drawing on the fines. Since all such appropriations are already covered by the Hyde Amendment, there would be no change in the political status quo on abortion.

      But, a link (losing track, but it’s to WP) suggests why “seems” to solve was used:

      Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said the Cornyn fix “does not solve the problem” since it would still, in the end, make the fines subject to Hyde language.


      Susan Collins and at times conservative Dem Sen. Heidi Heitkamp also offered language to “soften” the language. The five years time period also seems still an issue. As Scott notes, the history of abortion politics and Republican actions in that area underlines why Democrats are pressing hard on the issue too.

      • JKTH

        So instead of having the Hyde Amendment apply to the funds, Cornyn amended it so that…the Hyde Amendment would apply to the funds. I can’t see why those hostage-taking Democrats wouldn’t take that compromise.

        • Joe_JP

          “seems” so unreasonable of them

  • Bruce Vail

    It’s clear the delay of the Lynch vote has nothing to do with Lynch, but with other political differences the Senate Republicans have with the White House.

    Unnecessary delay of presidential nominations has been going on pretty consistently for the past five years, so it’s not like this is new.

  • Bruce Vail

    Obama could play a fine joke on Congressional Republicans by withdrawing her nomination, and forcing them to endure Eric Holder for another two years.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    i like the bit about “it’s what separates us from the animals! except the weasel”. that’s going to be a useful phrase in what passes for real life

    • Hogan
      • jim, some guy in iowa

        thanks. probably should have known

  • Thom

    The vile Mark Shields (allegedly syndicated, somewhere) had this same “both sides” analysis on PBS last night.

    • LosGatosCA

      Turn off the television.

      You’ll be glad you did plus you’ll live longer.

      Granted, you’ll be less informed about useless, idiotic, illogical positions taken by stupid people. But everything has it’s price I suppose.

      • Phil Perspective

        Certainly don’t watch anything politics related(including the nightly news) on TV. You’ll wish you were Elvis and had a shotgun handy.

        • Thom

          Handgun, wasn’t it?

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            probably didn’t matter to the television

      • Mike G

        I’m dreading the upcoming presidential election goatfuck which seems to get longer, stupider and more trivializing every cycle.

        Skipping the nightly news also spares me the mindfuck of pharmaceutical advertising suggesting I have every disease known to man.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Mark Shields was one of those guys who was still furious about Bob Casey not being permitted to appear at the Democratic convention to denounce a core provision of the Democratic platform a decade later.

  • ColBatGuano

    The abortion rights lobby? You mean women, Fred?

    • ExpatJK

      No, no. These are evil leftist NGOs supported by foreign cash! They will dupe women, who are easily misguided souls, into supporting abortion rights. Isn’t it obvious?

      • tsam

        Part of the collective Uncle Sugar.

        ((Shudder)). Hearing Huckaderp say that gave me a heebies like I haven’t seen since watching BTK allocute.

        • ExpatJK

          Oh God, that quote. Can’t believe at one time Huckaderp (great name, btw) was once thought of as some kind of different, gentler Republican.

          • But, he plays bass guitar! He goes on John Stewart’s show! Why must you insist on characterizing him using the things he says and the policies he supports? You must not be looking for a career in journalism.

        • BTK

          Dennis Rader?

          • tsam


      • ColBatGuano

        True, those NGO’s are always trying to get a cut of those sweet, sweet abortion profits. It’s America’s second largest industry don’t ya know?

  • ema

    Between the strides made by anti-racism and equal rights advocates, the perpetual crouching, defensive position of their pro-choice counterparts, and people continuing to vote these degenerates into office, pregnant women and their loved ones can expect a world of hurt for the foreseeable future.

    • ExpatJK

      pregnant womenembryo carriers and their loved ones can expect a world of hurt for the foreseeable future

      See, if you think about it that way, it’s so much easier to enact policies against them.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    “…but if *both* sides think I’m disingenuous and stupid, well then I must be doing something right!”

  • Davis

    The smiling faces of those men surrounding Bush are just crying to be slapped.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Your grandmotherly kindness is noted.

      Me, I’d be debating between war-crimes trials and just basting them with white phosphorus.

    • muddy

      To me they look like they are proud grandparents watching a 4 year old write his name for the first time. Good for you, honey!!!

      All it needs is for W to be sticking his tongue out in the corner of his mouth.

  • DrDick

    That is some world class concern trolling Fred is engaged in there.

  • JR in WV

    Isn’t it interesting how concerned these elderly patriarchs are for the health and well-being of young women? Fearing that their young handmaidens might be lured into committing a horrible sin, they strive their hardest to remove temptation from the path the young girls might follow.


  • Botsplainer

    “What do we call ourselves?

    We’re ‘The Aristocrats!’ – TA DAAAAH!”

  • efgoldman

    If Fred and his gang had been in charge during Watergate, they would have recommended John Mitchell for SCOTUS, fired Woodstein and Ben Bradlee, and pointed the investigation toward the Rodino committee.
    It really was a great paper, children. Really!
    Katie Graham is spinning in her grave, and then some.

  • Deggjr

    That is quite a picture.

    Rush Limbaugh has been wondering recently why he can’t use the n-word. Rush, to use that word you need to be part of the club; it’s like when you, Hastert, and Sensenbrenner call each other ‘fat boy’.

    • rea

      Hey! No shaming the horizontally-challenged!

  • JR in WV

    Even given the destruction of the paper-based media, the great changes caused by the new media of computer-based networks, the changes at the Washington Post are so repugnant, so horrid, so uncivilized, that we know that the people managing that company editorially are completely lacking in ethics in every way.

    What a bunch of antique royalists, pretending to be modern democrats, while actually supporting elite wealth in every way. Despicable!!

  • rea

    OT, but the ad I get with this page:

    PIPELINES WORK!–TransCanada

  • MacK

    Interestingly the Wpost is losing circulation in DC to the New York Times

  • navarro

    now ruth marcus has gone with the same false equivalence. has the post decided to join the ranks of the forced birthers?

  • Monty

    Photo caption contest!

    “Prezidentin is hard work.”

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