It was nothing short of a declaration of war on women’s health and reproductive choice from a man accustomed to making such declarations.
Not that Republican operative Dick Armey has ever been known for being subtle, but his latest pronouncement that, if Republicans take over Congress in November, they plan on taking on abortion rights shows just how little Republicans truly care about any economic recovery despite what their talking points may be. The Republicans of the Dick Armey brigade remain dedicated, even in times of economic struggle, of undoing decades of reproductive health advances on both a national and international level.
Armey’s statements also threaten to expose the Tea Party for what it truly is–a well-funded astroturf campaign run by the likes of Armey and other wealthy operatives such as the Koch brothers with one goal in sight–returning hard-right social conservatives to political leadership.
The statements came in response to a suggestion made by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Daniels had said that the next president would have to call a truce on social issues in order to properly focus on the debt and deficit issues. It was a statement that showed a tremendous amount of self-awareness at the recent defeats Republicans had faced on issues such as gay-marriage and an acknowledgement that the public is growing weary of these kinds of policy “distractions.”
Armey, always the antagonizer, dismissed the notion of a truce on social issues outright and said that if the country was insolvent social issues would become irrelevant, but until then, there was no need nor any desire for the kind of truce (or focus perhaps) called for by Daniels.
This places the Tea Party Republicans in an interesting place going into the November elections. The true libertarians in the movement do not line up with Armey (and Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin or Rand Paul for that matter) on the abortion issue. If push comes to shove will they be willing to step out of the way, or worse, support, an enormous government assault on individual reproductive health and choice?
If they do not, what happens to those politicians who are part of the hard-right on social issues that have wrapped themselves up in the libertarian rage and funded it via Armey’s Freedom Works? It’s a question that makes the group skittish. Freedom Works CEO Matt Kibbe admitted there was no official tea party position on social issues and indeed crafting one would be next to impossible given the fact that the movement currently embraces both individual liberty espousing libertarians and hard right social conservatives.
And for those of us who deeply believe in respecting women and trusting them to make the most appropriate health choices for themselves, we’ve been warned. We may have been caught of guard with Hyde and the anti-choice push in health care reform but we can no longer say we didn’t know this next assault on our ability to make our own health care choices was coming.
photo courtesy of infowidget via Flickr