"Let's hear it for the children. We're here for the children," said Nancy Pelosi moments after becoming America's first female Speaker of the House.
The date was January 4, 2007. Two months earlier, the Democrats had swept the mid-term elections and ended the Republicans' 12-year control of Congress. It was a momentous occasion for Democrats, sweetened by Pelosi's ascendancy to the top congressional job. She had "broken the marble ceiling," to quote her own words. She was the uber-feminist, free from the constraints of motherhood and the female proclivity for nurturing children.
Or was she? Much to the amusement of conservative pundits, Pelosi addressed the House for the first time as Speaker surrounded by children. As the votes were tabulated, she held an infant in her arms. She looked the picture image of the affectionate grandmother. She ended her speech with these (somewhat) immortal words: "For these children, our children, and for all of America's children, the House will come to order."
My, how time has tempered those words. Recently, Pelosi faced widespread criticism for saying that boosted federal funding for family planning services (i.e., contraception and abortion) would stimulate the economy. Her subtext was that children imperil our prosperity. Rather than see kids as an investment in the future, Pelosi suggested they are a net economic drain.
Despite being buoyed by a new ally in the White House and expanded majorities in both chambers of Congress, Democrats backed down and nixed the condom bucks from the stimulus bill. Lefty bloggers still in their religious trance after the coronation of Obama a few days earlier suddenly turned sour. One complained that Obama had traded women's rights to please Republicans. The spell was broken.
Clear-thinking Americans see the inherent stupidity of bailing out Planned Parenthood and its ilk during an economic implosion, but that didn't stop liberals from griping. Nevertheless, Obama and company would rather have a few dissatisfied activists than the PR nightmare generated by a family planning funding orgy. To their credit, Republicans spun the issue truthfully -- as a load of pork in tumultuous economic times. And they won. When Republicans show some backbone, often that's the result.
But there is another lesson to be learned from the controversy: Pelosi's duplicity. Social conservatives routinely are eviscerated for supposedly caring about human life only during pregnancy but not after birth. If they oppose entitlements such as SCHIP but support restrictions on abortion, they are said to be anti-child. While the facts don't tally with that conclusion, it's a regular argument of the left.
The argument is a two-way street, though. Pelosi is willing to manufacture a photo op by holding an infant moments before becoming the first female Speaker, yet she would have supported the mother's choice to end that infant's life before birth. Hardly pro-child.
Pelosi and her allies approach family planning in the same vein as their ideological forbearers. In the early 20th century, the progressive movement had some less-than-flattering ideas about reproduction among the poor and migrant. Today, we're seeing a renewed strain of eugenics-type thinking tied to economic prosperity and the environment.
One recent example is in Great Britain. Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the UK's Sustainable Development Commission, said that couples who have more than two children contribute to the destruction of the planet. He suggested that contraception and abortion be at the core of anti-global warming policies.
I doubt Pelosi would go that far publicly, but Porritt's thinking is not out of line with her approach. What liberals fail to see is the economic benefit that children bring to a nation, beyond their inherent worth as human beings. They are the future labors, innovators, and leaders. No children, no future.
That scenario is already becoming reality as Baby Boomers begin to retire and collect Social Security. Thanks to abortion and declining birth rates, the old will soon drastically outnumber the young. And I doubt the young will be happy about footing the bill. The same generation that brought us legalized abortion-on-demand might face euthanasia at the hands of their children, and all for the same reason: convenience and the bottom line.
I wonder what Madame Speaker will have to say about that.
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