It’s interesting to see how Karl Rove attempts to talk sense to Republicans who want to cause a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding. For starters, he doesn’t dare question the accuracy or legitimacy of their cause. Instead, he cites polling numbers that show that the American people do not side with the opponents of Planned Parenthood, definitely don’t want a shutdown to happen over the issue, and would overwhelmingly blame the Republican Party in Congress if there is a shutdown. He even goes so far as to point out that only about half of Americans have even heard of these selectively edited videos, as if a present lack of awareness would be a reasonable justification for stopping the effort to raise awareness.

This is not the kind of stuff that is very convincing to people who are on a moral crusade.

Rove seems to know this, however, so after he’s done trying to argue that it’s a political loser, he takes it step further an accuses the shutdown proponents of being the best friends of abortion. A shutdown, he says, “would be a disaster for the pro-life cause.”

Republicans in Congress who want to risk a shutdown over Planned Parenthood have an obligation to spell out how they would get it done. They can’t. That’s why any Republicans who engineer a shutdown will be unwitting allies of the abortion movement. Life is too important to let the GOP’s suicide caucus damage the cause with such an ill-considered effort.

I think calling these pro-lifers the “suicide caucus” is unlikely to win any converts to his point of view. I imagine that Rove knows this and either can’t help himself or has some other audience in mind. After all, the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page is right-wing drivel, but it isn’t drivel that is read widely by the type of wingnut that is taken in by these cheap shot videos.

I suspect that Rove’s intended audience is made up of members of Congress, and that’s why he spent all that time talking about polling numbers.

Rove is a slippery little bugger, too. Notice all the little ways he’s dishonest and annoying in this piece. He refers to supporters of Planned Parenthood as members of “the abortion movement,” as if supporting an organization that does more than any other to support women’s health were necessarily even primarily related to abortion, and as if we need a “movement” to support the law of the land for the last forty-two years.

Notice how he says that Republicans who refuse to fund the government “risk” a shutdown, as if refusing to give the president a budget he can sign creates only a chance of agencies running out of money.

Finally, look carefully at the following:

At least 31 congressmen have signed a letter circulated by South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney saying that they will not vote for any budget that funds Planned Parenthood. They, too, lack a strategy to get a defunding measure signed into law. Some of these congressmen would use a failure to defund Planned Parenthood as an excuse to get Republicans to vote with the Democrats to kick John Boehner out as speaker.

Think about that formulation: “use a failure to defund Planned Parenthood as an excuse to get Republicans to vote with the Democrats to kick John Boehner out as speaker.

That’s just greasy.

Why would Democrats vote for John Boehner as Speaker? They wouldn’t be voting to kick anyone out; they’d be loyally voting for their own leader, as is always done in these elections (unless you’re a wingnut who wants to lodge a protest). The Republican usurpers would be relying on the Democrats to continue this normal practice and not save Boehner.

Rove is still one of the most dishonest political operatives we’ve ever seen, but he’s without a doubt the most overrated one, too.

[Cross-posted at Progress Pond]

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at