Friday, November 17, 2006


It is common knowledge that George W. Bush's first tentative steps into the unknown realm of bipartisanship have been bumpy ones at best. Days after pledging to work with the Democrats that now control both houses of Congress, he renominated the controversial and recess-appointed John Bolton to his post as Ambassador to the UN. Days later, he renominated several persons to appellate judge posts; the previous appointments were unacceptable to Democrats back when they were in the minority and their position will certainly not change now that they are in control.

The moves by Bush were widely heralded as examples of his innate inability to even comprehend the word bipartisan, let alone govern in such a manner. Given that these appointments require approval for the Congress, they have little chance of ever getting through, thus negating some amount of pandering to the right wing Bush was hoping to achieve (though the simple fact of renominating these figures will probably be enough of a gesture to placate them for a time).

There are however some positions that Bush can fill that do not require congressional approval, and such is the case in regards to a Dr. Eric Keroack, who was recently appointed as new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services. The position puts Keroack in charge of "$283 million in annual family planning grants that are designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons", according to HHS.

From the Washington Post:

The Keroack appointment angered many family-planning advocates, who noted that A Woman's Concern supports sexual abstinence until marriage, opposes contraception and does not distribute information promoting birth control at its six centers in eastern Massachusetts.

"A Woman's Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness," the group's Web site says.

From Alternet, an exploration into the types of tactics used by 'crisis pregnancy centers' like A Woman's Concern:

According to a recent Planned Parenthood email, a 17-year-old girl mistakenly walked into a crisis pregnancy center thinking it was Planned Parenthood, which was next door. "The group took down the girl's confidential personal information and told her to come back for her appointment, which they said would be in their 'other office' (the real Planned Parenthood office nearby)."

When she showed up for her nonexistent appointment, she was met by the police, who had been erroneously tipped that a minor was being forced to abort. The crisis pregnancy center staff followed up this harassment by staking out the girl's house, phoning her father at work, and even talking to her classmates about her pregnancy, urging them to harass her.

As Michelle Goldberg at Huffington Post notes,

Bush has appointed a number of pro-life activists to important positions in the federal bureaucracy. Keroack is unique, though, because the job he's been given is all about the distribution of contraceptives, something he appears to oppose in principal. Again, from A Woman's Concern: "A Woman's Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness."

So, in Dr. Keroack, we have someone who opposes contraception and won't tell women about birth control, he basically advocates the exact opposite of what family planning is supposed to function. He is just another example of the fact that while Bush's power has been weakened now that Dems control Congress, he is still a dangerous commodity that must be scrutinized at every turn. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino noted, "The president has said we will look to reach common ground where we can find it. However, he's not going to compromise on his principles." I question if there will be any position where Bush can compromise.

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