Sunday's Super Brawl: Obama v. O'Reilly
If you thought the Super Bowl was rough, you should have seen the pregame. President Obama squared off against Bill O'Reilly for a match-up that proved a lot more spirited than the actual game. Two hours before kick-off, O'Reilly and Obama sparred over a range of topics -- from the White House's missteps on everything from ObamaCare and the IRS to the tragedy in Benghazi. Both men got their jabs in, with the President occasionally showing his annoyance with Fox News along the way.
For his part, President Obama offered many of the same explanations for the botched ObamaCare roll-out, insisting that no one, not even his team of experienced contractors, could have known that HealthCare.gov was so deeply flawed. "I don't think anybody anticipated the degree of problems," President Obama said. Three years and millions of tax dollars later, shouldn't someone have known, O'Reilly asked. And if they didn't, isn't that ultimately the responsibility of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius?
"Why didn't you fire [her]?" O'Reilly pressed. As a taxpayer, Bill said, "I'm paying Kathleen Sebelius's salary, and she screwed up. And you're not holding her accountable." The President testily responded that he holds "everybody up and down the line accountable" -- a claim that doesn't exactly hold true with ObamaCare or the IRS's conservative targeting scandal. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pointed out last week, it's been 280-plus days, and the Justice Department still hasn't filed a single indictment. "I try to focus, not on the fumbles," President Obama replied, "but on the next plan." But the ObamaCare "fumble," as he called it, isn't going away any time soon, O'Reilly pointed out. "Last week, there was an Associated Press call of people who actually went to the website and only 8% of them feel that it's working well." Still, the President fired back, three million people are enrolled.
As for one of the biggest black eyes of the Obama presidency, Benghazi, the President continues to evade the truth as he maneuvers his way through the events of that fateful September day. "Your commanders and the Secretary of Defense know it's a terror attack," O'Reilly pushed. "Did he tell you, Secretary Panetta, that it was a terror attack?" Bill asked point blank. When the President tried to dodge the question, O'Reilly posed it again. "I'm answering your question," a frustrated President Obama said. "What he said to me was, we've got an attack on our compound. We don't know yet... we don't know yet who's doing it. Understand, by definition, Bill, when somebody is attacking our compound... that's an act of terror, which is how I characterized it the day after it happened. So the -- so the question ends up being who, in fact, was attacking us?"
In the "heat of the moment," the President insisted, the White House was more focused on what was happening on the ground -- not defining it. "We -- we revealed to the American people exactly what we understood at the time. The notion that we would hide the ball for political purposes when, a week later, we all said, in fact, there was a terrorist attack taking place the day after, I said it was an act of terror, that wouldn't be a very good cover-up..."
More than a year later, we all agree that it wasn't a good cover-up -- but even independent investigators believe that it was one. Last month, Senate Democrats and Republicans made the case that the President willingly lied about what the White House knew and when it knew it. But instead of admitting to the American people that the pre-election attack was the work of terrorists -- or even suggesting that the administration didn't have all the details -- the President spent the first several days blaming the violence on a ridiculous internet video. Even now, 17 months later, the White House can't bring itself to admit what most of us suspected all along. Under Barack Obama, truth -- whether about your health care, the nation's military, or foreign policy -- is sacrificed to political expediency.
Baby Steps on Abortion Rates
The abortion movement is losing more than Americans' support. A new study shows that it also lost a significant chunk of business between 2008 and 2011. According to the latest numbers from the liberal Guttmacher Institute, the number of abortions fell dramatically over the four-year span, from 1.2 million procedures in 2008 to 1.06 million in 2011. The reasons behind the 13% drop (bringing abortions to their lowest levels since Roe v. Wade in 1973) are sparking a lot of debate on both sides.
For one, it's unclear whether the report takes into account chemical abortions, which are induced by drugs like RU-486 or ella, and have become significantly more popular since the FDA gave them the green light. Liberals, not surprisingly, credit the broad use of birth control for the decline -- which conservatives can counter with the 2012 CDC study on abstinence education. After eight years of prioritizing abstinence education, the country may have finally seen the fruit of President Bush's emphasis on saving sex. Although Guttmacher tries to downplay the effects of pro-life laws, Dr. Michael New disagrees. New, who served as an adjunct fellow with FRC in 2008, has written that "Planned Parenthood... often argue[s] that pro-life laws are ineffective. They claim that contraception spending and more generous welfare benefits are the best ways to reduce abortion rates. In reality, there is virtually no peer-reviewed research... which finds that more spending on either contraception or welfare has any effect on the incidence of abortion." Whereas a parental involvement law, for instance, can reduce in-state abortion rates for young girls by as much as 15%.
And you don't need a Gallup poll to show you what the March for Life just did: Americans, especially young ones, are increasingly pro-life. Despite the Left's best attempts, that message is resonating with women, thanks in large part to new technology and the incredible work of pregnancy resource centers.
In a half-sarcastic tweet, Scott Ott said, "Abortions fall to lowest point since 1970s. Will Obama call for aid to rescue this American industry?" Unfortunately for taxpayers, he already has. The flip side to Guttmacher's report is that America can't sustain these low abortion rates -- not when ObamaCare is subsidizing them. As FRC's own Emily Minick pointed out in a great column for the Christian Post, history shows that direct federal funding for abortion increases the number of abortions performed.
Take Guttmacher's word for it. Its 2007 report showed that the Hyde Amendment (banning most taxpayer-funded abortions) prevented anywhere from 18-35% of abortions. The report also showed that when the government subsidizes the taking of innocent unborn life, the number of abortions jumps by 25%. So while we celebrate these important gains for the pro-life movement, it's also a call to stamp out taxpayer-funded abortion -- and put an end to America's bloodiest partnership.
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** On Monday's edition of "Washington Watch" FRC's Director for Human Dignity, Arina Grossu joins us to break down a new study by the Guttmacher Institute showing the lowest drop in the U.S. abortion rate since 1973. Later, Answers in Genesis Founder and President, Ken Ham, will be on to discuss his Intelligent Design/evolution debate happening tomorrow night with Bill Nye at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Also, Congressman James Lankford, (R-Okla.) will drop by to give his reaction to the latest comments from Secretary John Kerry on Israel.
*** What's really behind the President's Middle East agenda? Find out in a new American Thinker column by FRC's Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison, "Selling out Israel: The Obama-Kerry Plan."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.