Tiahrt embarrasses himself

TIAHRT EMBARRASSES HIMSELF…. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) of Kansas took to the floor of the House yesterday to argue that health care reform should exclude funding for abortion. He chose to do so in a pretty insulting way. (TP has the video.)

Arguing to restrict the public funding of abortions within the District of Columbia, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kans., suggested on Thursday afternoon that if such “financial incentives” were available some 47 years ago, Barack Obama himself may never have been born.

“If you think of it in human terms, there is a financial incentive that will be put in place, paid for by tax dollars, that will encourage women who are — single parents, living below the poverty level, to have the opportunity for a free abortion,” said Tiahrt. “If you take that scenario and apply it to many of the great minds we have today, who would we have been deprived of? Our president grew up in a similar circumstance.”

“If that financial incentive was in place, is it possible that his mother may have taken advantage of it?” Tiahrt asked. “Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice, if those circumstances were in place, is it possible that we would be denied his great mind? The opportunity to have tax-funded abortions, a financial incentive, is something that I think most of us want to oppose in America and it’s certainly deserves a clean up or down vote.”

It’s hard to even know where to start, but let’s go with the obvious. Tiahrt singled out two Americans who, he said, may have been aborted: Barack Obama and Clarence Thomas. So, as far as Tiahrt is concerned, the first two people who come to his mind for the what-if-they-weren’t-here argument both just happen to be African-American men.

For that matter, the notion that universal health care will create “incentives” for abortions is foolish, and it’s not surprising that Tiahrt didn’t even try to back up the claim.

But ultimately, it’s just the tasteless quality of Tiahrt’s argument that stands out, and which generated boos on the House floor. As Chris Harris noted, “His stance against the public funding of abortions is a perfectly valid view to hold. However, by implying those on the other side of the issue may have caused the President of the United States to be aborted, Tiahrt appears vile and childish — reflecting poorly on his state, his party and the anti-choice movement.”

Tiahrt is in the midst of a very competitive Republican Senate primary right now, and he clearly wants to prove his fealty to the party’s far-right base. This, however, isn’t the way to do it.