Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Handel, Again

It's old news at this point, but last week the Susan B. Komen Foundation got a lot of publicity, almost exclusively bad, concerning its recent decision to cut off funding for cancer screening to Planned Parenthood. I won't elaborate on the story, as its already been fairly well dissected all over the internets,  but I do want to remind loyal WDW readers that I've been issuing warnings about the person behind this scandal, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel, for some time now. 

Way back in June 2009, I posted an article on Handel's signature accomplishment as Georgia Secretary of State - disenfranchising some 2,000 registered voters under the presumption of "voter fraud," and then later claiming her efforts were somehow "proof" of the disenfranchised's guilt.  To be fair, a year later I pointed out that when she was a Fulton County Commissioner, she had taken a fairly progressive stance (for a Republican) on gay rights, and had supported a rape-and-incest exception to a hypothetical abortion ban and  had opposed a proposal to sharply restrict in-vitro fertility clinics.

As it turns out, the very things for which I was trying to praise her worked against her in her run for Governor.  Her opponent, Nathan Deal, painted Handel as an Atlanta liberal, and used her stance on the issues above to ultimately defeat her in the Republican Primary, despite a highly publicized endorsement for her from Sarah  Palin, who called Handel one of her "mama grizzlies."  In fact, the 2010 Gubernatorial Primary was viewed by many as a barometer of conservative politics, with Handel and Deal viewed as proxies for their backers, Palin, and in the case of Deal, Newt Gingrich, and as an early litmus test of 2012 Presidential possibilities.  Looking back at that primary now, here at the outset of the 2012 Presidential campaign, it's apparent that although his star is rapidly fading, Newt has unfortunately remained a viable presence in American politics, while Palin is now largely and thankfully forgotten.

So, I had thought, was Handel.  After her primary defeat by Deal (who ultimately went on and became Georgia Governor), I had not heard from Handel, and she quickly - and mercifully - faded from my memory.  Until the Komen controversy, when I learned that she had somehow become a senior policy adviser for the charity, and was behind the dust-up with Planned Parenthood, which has irreconcilably tarnished the charity's reputation. This is what happens when you put Georgia wing-nuts in charge of important things.

If you follow Handel's career trajectory, one fairly obvious motive for trying to insert a cancer charity into an abortion-rights controversy is that she wanted to develop some "pro-life" credentials to compensate for the Achilles' heel that had cost her a shot at the Governor race.  Under this theory, the chilling possibility that she may run again, whether for Georgia Governor in 2014 or for some other office, must be considered.  Even if she has damaged and discredited the very charity she was being paid to support, she can still walk away claiming she was trying to score a "pro-life" (or as we like to say, "anti-choice") victory, before the "liberal, lame-stream media" interfered.  

Frighteningly, as the twin liability on the other ankle was her former tolerant stance on gay rights, it can be expected that she'll next jump on board some anti-gay crusade, like a ban on marriage equality, before making another run for office in 2014.  Be afraid, be very afraid, as her next stunt will likely further inflame intolerance and bigotry.

The latest news on all of this is this morning Handel resigned from the Komen board and gave an interview over on Fox "News."  It's clear that she's still trying to politicize this whole debacle and demonize Planned Parenthood, as she stated, "Last time I checked, private, non-profit organizations have a right and a responsibility to be able to set the highest standards in criteria on their own, without interference, let alone the level of vicious attacks and coercion that’s occurred by Planned Parenthood," adding, "It’s simply outrageous."

I don't like being harsh, but what's outrageous is Handel's assumptions that a charity could collect money from sincere donors and then expect to do whatever it wants, or doesn't want, to do with those funds, and not expect reprisals.  It wasn't  the charity's recipient that threatened to boycott Komen, it was the charity's donors.  Handel fails to see the difference, and for that, she's unfit to serve in charity.

Fair and balanced update:  Say this for Georgia at least - today, the new Secretary of State - a Republican, naturally - has announced that, what the hell, Obama can be on the election ballot this November after all.

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