Thanks to Alex for alerting me to this Politico story about GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. Apparently, according to a bunch of old tax returns dug up by rival campaigns, he and then-wife Donna Hanover gave a total of $900 to Planned Parenthood groups at the local, state, and national levels in the 1990s.
The problem? The GOP (I'm speaking of the leadership and primary voters. "The Base." I know there are Republicans who fall outside of the description that follows, but for simplicity's sake, I'll use "GOP" to refer to those who) are strictly anti-choice, and paint Planned Parenthood as part of the axis of evil because they offer abortion services and advocate that women should get to think for themselves. The GOP completely ignore the fact that nationwide, Planned Parenthood serves 5 million women and men each year with birth control, STD treatment, cancer screening, and educational services. (Over 100,000 of them in Indiana alone.)
So obviously, other GOP candidates are doing everything they can to remind people that Giuliani, while Mayor of NYC, was pro-choice. Politico quotes a speech he made to NARAL in 2001:
...he voiced the conservative case for abortion rights, arguing that it "might be more consistent with the philosophy of the Republican Party... Because the Republican Party stands for the idea that you have to restore more freedom of choice, more opportunity, more opportunity for people to make their own choices rather than the government dictating those choices," said Giuliani.
Isn't that an interesting idea? Does anybody remember a time when the Republican Party stood for small government and personal freedom? I remember hearing it in school, but I sure don't remember it from any campaign or elected official I've ever seen. My political coming of age was way after the "Moral Majority" took over the party in the late 1970s/ early 1980s.
That's right, before Ronald Reagan played up to the religious right to get elected in 1980, it was okay to be both Republican and supportive of access to birth control and even abortion services. Just ask the Bush family.
But apparently, to swim in the deep end of the GOP pool these days, you have to renounce all ties to moderate views. So I'm not surprised that Giuliani is disavowing many of his actions as Mayor, especially anything having to do with reproductive or gay rights. What surprises me is how bad he is at it. When asked by the Politico reporter why he made the donation to Planned Parenthood, he said "I'll have to look at that."
When I followed up about why, if he was personally opposed to abortion, he would give his own money to an abortion rights group, he held firm.
"All's I can tell you are what my views are," he responded before again explaining again a stance of personal opposition but public support for legalized abortion.
I lived in NYC under Giuliani's reign. I've never thought his presidential bid would amount to much because I already knew about his moderate views on social issues (and I'd never personally vote for him because I think he's a fascist. Really. I mean it.)--but after this story, I think his bid will fail because somehow he's lost the ability to think on his feet.
I mean: "I'll have to look at that." Wow. Seriously, that's the best you can do? I suppose it would be too much to ask that he'd admit that he knows Planned Parenthood is mainly around to help people PREVENT unintended pregnancy, but geez, it didn't even occur to him to say "don't blame me, the donations were really my ex-wife's?" Nope. Instead, "All's I can tell you are what my views are."
Come on, Rudy. You're gonna have to spin better than that.
UPDATE: I wandered over to G-Spot, where Giuliani is quoted via CNN and Laura Ingraham:
Giuliani said the donations were not inconsistent with his personal opposition to abortion because "Planned Parenthood makes information available" on other options available to pregnant women, including adoption.
Giuliani earns Integrity Points for that, and Spin Points for following it up by promising to appoint "strict contructionists" (read: "judicial activists" for the reactionary set) to the bench if elected. Maybe he is starting to look Presidential...