- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Planned Parenthood: Abortion conglomerate or benign guardian of women’s health?

“President Obama needs to get the facts straight. He touts Planned Parenthood as a leading health care provider but in truth it is America’s largest abortion business — and does not perform mammograms. This oft-repeated myth has been repeatedly debunked and it’s time the president stop misleading the American people in an effort to buoy his top political ally,” says Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, who says the most recent proof of it all came from Casey Mattox, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom.

“She pointed out that according to the Department of Health and Human Services, no Planned Parenthood clinic in the country is authorized to perform mammograms under the federal Mammogram Quality Standards Act,” Mrs. Dannenfelser says, also noting that Mr. Obama’s policies on abortion “fly in the face of mainstream Americans.”

She cites polling from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of her organization, which reveals that 77 percent of Americans and 80 percent of women support a ban on sex-selective abortion. The National Right to Life Committee also found that 63 percent of Americans and 70 percent of women support legislation to ban abortions past the point at which unborn children feel pain. “President Obama has refused to support either measure,” Mrs. Dannenfelser adds.

MUST-SEE DEBATE

Prime-time presidential debates have emerged as a popular hybrid mashup of entertainment, rivalry and partisan melodrama that appears to suit the collective American taste. Tuesday’s bout between President Obama and Mitt Romney yielded very healthy ratings. Some 65.6 million viewers tuned in, prompting TV critics to declare political fatigue has not yet afflicted voters. Among the cable news channels, Fox News won the ratings derby with 11.1 million viewers, followed by CNN with 4.1 million and MSNBC with 3.9 million. And among broadcast channels, NBC ruled the numbers with 13.8 million, followed with ABC at 12.4 million and CBS with 8.9 million.

“CNN’s Candy Crowley was the moderator of the debate, but it did not appear to give a significant ratings boost to the channel. It was the only cabler to lose viewers compared to the first Presidential debate, and was down significantly from the second Presidential debate in 2008,” writes Alex Weprin, senior editor of TVNewser, an industry blog.

MANO AU MANO

The presidential rivals flirted with aggression Tuesday night. Or at least President Obama and Mitt Romney appeared to broach each other’s personal space, anyway.

“Last night’s debate will be remembered for the near-physical confrontation between the candidates,” observes The Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes. “It was once believed that a presidential candidate who acted in a confrontational way would lose the debate. That notion is now out of the window. Romney and Obama confronted, separated, and neither was the worse for it. True, they were never close to bumping chests. They didn’t exactly advance on each other menacingly. But still their behavior was unprecedented for a presidential debate.”

The mind reels. Such fare is a hard act to follow, requiring the respective handlers to wonder how it would play should actual candidate fisticuffs ever enter the election equation.

THE PRESIDENTIAL FACTOR

“The cable news channel pundits, talk radio gurus, bloggers and water cooler political experts are all missing the most important point about last night’s debate — the rancorous debate’s scorecard is irrelevant,” declares Richard Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com. “What matters is that the debates have made Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan look credible and allowed voters to give themselves permission to do what they have wanted to do for several years — fire Barack Obama” and Joe Biden.

Mr. Viguerie adds, “Romney and Ryan looked, acted, and sounded qualified and presidential. Both Republican candidates sent voters a strong message that there is a credible and serious alternative to Obama and Biden.”

THE HISTORIC CAMPAIGN

“That 150 lawyers should do business together ought not to be expected.”

— Thomas Jefferson, assessing the U.S. Congress, Jan. 6, 1821.

PBS UPS THE ANTE

After his reoccurring role in presidential politics, perhaps Big Bird should be a special correspondent for “PBS NewsHour” on Election Day. The staid nightly program is going for some showbiz in its upcoming coverage, which will stretch from 8 a.m. to at least midnight Nov. 6, either online or in live broadcast. On hand, in various combinations: Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff, Mark Shields, David Brooks, Jeffrey Brown, Stuart Rothenberg, historians Michael Beschloss and Richard Norton Smith, Ray Suarez, Margaret Warner, and political editor Christina Bellantoni. “Public media reporters” from around the nation will also chime in. And while the producers emphasize civil discussions and in-depth reports, there’s much social media and bells and whistles to consider, including the “multilayered NewsHour Digital Map Center” and “multiple livestream channels.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 57 percent of male voters and 48 percent of female voters in 12 swing states say Mitt Romney can best handle the budget deficit and national debt.

• 38 percent of men and 47 percent of women cite President Obama as best suited.

• 52 percent of male voters and 44 percent of female voters say Mr. Romney can better handle unemployment.

• 43 percent of the men and 52 percent of the women cite Mr. Obama.

• 49 percent of male voters and 44 percent of female voters say Mr. Romney can best handle health care.

• 47 percent of the men and 52 percent of the women cite Mr. Obama.

Source: A USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,023 registered voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Churlish remarks and weighty pronouncements to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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