Kathleen Parker starts off by coining a new verb out of Bart Stupak’s name, and ends with a very unfortunate and somewhat confused Biblical reference. In between, though, Parker blasts Stupak for his betrayal — and Democrats for their deceit in offering a meaningless executive order to Stupak as an excuse for his flip:
Poor Bart Stupak. The man tried to be a hero for the unborn, and then, when all the power of the moment was in his frail human hands, he dropped the baby. He genuflected when he should have dug in his heels and gave it up for a meaningless executive order.
Now, in the wake of his decision to vote for a health-care bill that expands public funding for abortion, he is vilified and will forever be remembered as the guy who Stupaked health-care reform and the pro-life movement. …
The executive order promising that no federal funds will be used for abortion is utterly useless, and everybody knows it. First, the president can revoke it as quickly as he signs it. Second, an order cannot confer jurisdiction in the courts or establish any grounds for suing anybody in court, according to a former White House counsel. The order is therefore judicially unenforceable. Finally, an executive order cannot trump or change a federal statute.
One can reasonably surmise that Obama, a former constitutional law professor, is well aware of the uselessness of his promise. Perhaps this is why he didn’t mention it during the bill-signing ceremony Tuesday.
Stupak, too, knew that the executive order was merely political cover for him and his pro-life colleagues. He knew it because several members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explained it to him, according to sources. The only way to prevent public funding for abortion was for his amendment to be added to the Senate bill.
The only people fooled by Stupak were the people who wanted to be fooled by Stupak. Even when he demanded his amendment the first time around in the House, we had indications that Stupak would vote for ObamaCare with or without it. The first time, Nancy Pelosi couldn’t afford to call his bluff. She couldn’t afford to do it this time, either, but she got Barack Obama to provide him enough cover for Stupak to claim, however lamely, that he defended pro-life principles to the end.
Of course, Stupak did no such thing. He caved on his own amendment, but he had given a week’s worth of indications that he would. Despite his appearances on Fox News, he had been attempting to cut a deal with Pelosi the entire time. Stupak’s Democratic colleagues have the most reason to be angry with him, making them jump through hoops and answer for the abortion-funding provisions for weeks, when it turned out that Stupak didn’t really plan to stick to his position anyway. He got a lot of national attention, though, which is what Stupak apparently wanted most.
This is one of Parker’s more enjoyable columns in a while, which is why the ending to it is so unfortunate:
Whatever it was, demonizing Stupak seems excessive and redundant given punishments to come. Already he has lost a speaking invitation to the Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast next month. His political future, otherwise, may have been foretold by a late-night anecdote.
After the Sunday vote, a group of Democrats, including Stupak, gathered in a pub to celebrate. In a biblical moment, New York Rep. Anthony Weiner was spotted planting a big kiss on Stupak’s cheek.
To a Catholic man well versed in the Gospel, this is not a comforting gesture.
As a Catholic man with Jewish friends and family, I can tell you that casting a Jewish man in the role of Judas Iscariot for a Biblical parallel will generate a lot of letters to the Washington Post, none of them particularly friendly. It doesn’t even make sense. If anyone’s the Judas in the Stupak story, it’s Stupak himself. I’m no fan of Weiner, but he was rather adamant about “Medicare for all” during the past few months. It wasn’t Weiner who betrayed Stupak, but Stupak who betrayed first his Democratic colleagues and then his supposed allies in the pro-life movement for nothing more than 30 lines on a worthless executive order. Stupak didn’t martyr himself for anyone, but sold out to the highest bidder.