jasonbwatson

April 16, 2013

No comment

The realities of the Kermit Grosnell case are exceedingly gruesome, and there is enough information about the case out there that I did not feel the need to address it here–specifically since it is so gruesome that there is really no comment needed. I cannot imagine how any person who is not mentally ill could defend his actions. If you have not heard of him, or do not know what I am referring to, and you want to know, just Google his name and you will find out far more than you want to know. If you would like me to make it easier for you, you can read this article from USA Today. I’ll be honest, though, I suspect most people cannot read the article without becoming physically sick. Just read the opening line of the article and you will know enough to put the rest of what I am going to say in context.

At yesterday’s White House briefing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney made no announcements, instead opening the floor for questions from the White House press corps. One of the reporters present, Ed Henry (senior White House correspondent for Fox News), asked Carney about the Gosnell trial (he is on trial for murder) and the president’s reaction to the situation. You can watch the press briefing on the White House web site and/or read the transcript.

Initially Carney said that the president “does not and cannot take a position on an ongoing trial.” Interesting. If you check YouTube for the video clip of the press briefing you will see that most of the comments there correctly point out that President Obama has had no problem at all taking a position on ongoing trials in the past. Just over a year he ago he made comments on the Trayvon Martin shooting, specifically, according to The Huffington Post, because “he and his press handlers were feeling pressure, coming from black activists and others, to make a public comment on the Martin case.” In that instance Obama’s comments were cautiously guarded, because he said he did not want to “impair” the ongoing legal process, but that did not stop him from commenting on the matter.

In July 2009 President Obama did not let his unfamiliarity with all of the facts stop him from addressing the Cambridge, Massachusetts’ police department’s arrest of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. In fact, in a press conference the president said, “”Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly….and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.” Maybe so, Mr. President, but that kind of rhetoric did nothing to specifically address the problem, and in fact could serve only to inflame any hostility in and toward the matter. But here’s another fact for Mr. Obama and Mr. Carney–there again the President of the United States was making specific comments on an ongoing legal matter.

So, convenient though it may have been for Mr. Carney to dodge the question by saying the president cannot take a position, the facts speak for themselves and when pressured to do so, when convenient, or, more accurately, when it will play well in the African-American community, Mr. Obama has had no problem taking a position on an ongoing legal matter.

After saying there was no position being taken Mr. Carney said, “Certainly, the things that you hear and read about this case are unsettling, but I can’t comment further on an ongoing legal proceeding.” “Unsettling” is an understatement to say the least. Mr. Henry was not ready to let the issue go, though. He pressed Mr. Carney with this background and question:

I understand the legal proceeding. The President as a state senator in 2003 voted against a bill that would provide medical care, as I understand, to babies who would be born after a botched abortion like this. And the President at the time said he couldn’t support it as a state senator because he felt like any doctor in that situation would take care of a child.

When you hear this kind of evidence that suggests there’s at least one doctor who apparently did not, I understand you can’t comment — you can’t deal with the deliberations of the case, but is there some legislative solution or at least a conversation that needs to happen in Washington? Because on guns, you were just saying, we need common-sense reform, we need to save lives. In this case, do we need to be saving lives as well?

Carney’s response? “Well, again, you’re relating it to a case that I can’t comment on and the President can’t comment on. I would simply say that the President’s position on choice is very clear. His position on the basic principle that, as President Clinton said, abortions ought to be safe, legal and rare is very clear. I just don’t have comment that could shed light on this specific case.”

Mr. Carney was missing Mr. Henry’s point entirely. He was no longer asking for specific comment on the Gosnell case; he was asking whether or not President Obama has the same impetus to seek “common-sense reform” to save the lives of babies who survive abortions as he seems to wont to do with gun control.

The sad truth is that Mr. Carney, and President Obama, had no comment. When a black teenager is shot, he has a comment. When a black scholar is arrested–as it turns out, at his own home–he has a comment. But when a black abortion provider is killing babies who have been born alive, he has no comment. That’s the bottom line, and in my opinion it is inexcusable.

And quite frankly, their “no comment” speaks volumes.

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