THE BLOG
09/30/2015 09:10 am ET Updated Sep 30, 2016

GOP Extremists and Planned Parenthood: Trying to Reignite the Culture Wars

Yesterday's performance by the GOP at the House Oversight Committee was draw-dropping. It was a televised show trial -- its only indictment, a fake video -- in which Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards was interrogated by GOP extremists throwing everything and anything related to women's health care against the wall to see what stuck. Misogynistic just scratches the surface.

That Republican members of the committee allowed the makers of the fake video to hide in the shadows and not be called to account was chilling and especially so for taking place at a time when the United States is wrestling at the U.N. with the crisis of medieval brutality in the Mideast by ISIS, Russia, and mass emigration threatening the stability of Europe.

"I'm being generous, calling it a hearing," Cecile Richards said in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. "I think the whole purpose of this hearing was to convince themselves that it is OK to deny women the ability to go to the health care provider of their choice, because 2.7 million women and men choose Planned Parenthood, and they were trying to say they wanted to take that choice away from them."

The fake evidence against Planned Parenthood rematerialized in Congress as the same wedge that ignited the culture wars during the Reagan era. Why now? Because the Republican clown car, presidential primary has run out of fuel.

That was the purpose of the hearing, yesterday, although it was ironic (does that word bear meaning, anymore, because it is so overused?) that the use of stem cells from fetuses was supported by the Reagan administration. Ms. Richards made that point too, yesterday, without irony.

As this political season aims Republican voters to select a 2016 presidential candidate, the fight emerges along the lines of the last war for the GOP. This 30 Year War has inflicted great damage not just within the United States but our standing in the world.

Why the same forces of intolerance that have marred the GOP are pressing the historical rewind button with Planned Parenthood is no mystery. It is a brazen effort to ignite a Republican base with what worked in the past and primarily with evangelical Christians: the culture wars.

Compared to the tinderbox at the United Nations where superpower interests mix with oil and terrorism including the Syrian government, Russia and ISIS, the Congressional dust-up over Planned Parenthood must have reinforced amongst our allies that the United States, while extraordinarily wealthy still and powerful too, is in disarray. Along that same line, spear-shaking on foreign policy by GOP candidates like Marco Rubio make the U.S. look weak. At the U.N. Putin, a student of Soviet history, must have smirked (ironic, again!) how the GOP use of faked video resembled the trumped-up trials of the early Soviet era.

Yesterday's performance at the House Oversight Committee was a disaster, although it is likely the Republican principals -- tightly packed together in their own echo chamber -- did not hear it that way. GOP hard-liners have no other cards to play: Obamacare, immigration and Planned Parenthood.

Faced with monumental challenges, extremists are reaching back to the past to energize aggrieved bases. That was the purpose of yesterday's fake trial of Planned Parenthood in Congress.