In our world, credibility is
currency, and Wendy Wright and Tony Perkins are flat broke.
Having worked for years and
years in the field of sexual heath and reproductive rights, I have gotten
used to the tactics used by Ms. Wright, president of Concerned Women
for America, and Mr. Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
They have worked tirelessly to undermine the most basic rights of Americans
with a combination of misleading facts and outright deception.
But, I have to admit, even I was surprised to hear the latest coming
out of their mouths.
"Some people think that
declaring a state of emergency about the flu was a political thing to
push the Sebelius nomination through," Ms. Wright told the Washington
Independent. Mr. Perkins echoed her view in an e-mail to supporters
saying, "[L]iberals are already scheming how they can use the health
scare to win the confirmation of pro-abortion extremist Gov. Kathleen
Sebelius (D-Kans.) as Secretary of Health and Human Services."
That’s right. Wendy
Wright and Tony Perkins believe that the Obama administration, perhaps
as the result of liberal scheming, concocted this whole swine-flu pandemic
in an effort to win the nomination of Secretary for Health and Human
Services candidate Kathleen Sebelius. This outrageous claim, which
is on the level with those who think the moon landing was faked, should
be immediately shuffled into the trash bin, and no one should give it
a moment’s further thought. It does, however, raise serious
questions about whether Ms. Wright and Mr. Perkins have futures as any
kind of serious advocates.
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One of two things is going
on here. The first possibility is that these two leaders of prominent,
extreme, right-wing organizations have become completely divorced from
reality. This should be as troubling to their opponents, who may
find ourselves no longer dealing with rational people with whom we may
have reasonable debates, as to their supporters, who may find themselves
without a reliable captain at the helm.
But let’s give them the benefit
of the doubt and say that they still have their wits about them.
The second (and perhaps more insidious) option, is that Ms. Wright and
Mr. Perkins will simply say or do anything that they think will help
them get attention. When faced with the fact that a qualified,
popular governor was about to be confirmed as HHS Secretary, they didn’t
express their disappointment in the pick and pledge or promote their
policies as best they can while facing, perhaps, a hostile administration,
a situation we, as sexual health and reproductive rights advocates,
are all too familiar with. Instead, they tried to sell a conspiracy
theory so that their supporters have someone or something to blame.
Either way, the result is the
same. People who will believe anything, say anything, or do anything
to achieve their goals have no credibility and no role to play in serious
discussions about the future of our country. If Mr. Perkins and
Ms. Wright want to join the ranks of Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh
to heckle and rabble rouse from the crowd, that’s their prerogative.
However, policy makers, advocates, educators, parents, and teachers
should all realize that, as soon as Ms. Wright and Mr. Perkins entered
this fantasy land, they have forfeited their credibility and any claim
they once had to being part of the debate.