Washington There is no such thing as total protection from the “politics of gotcha” in the modern environment of polarized politics.
There is no question that Planned Parenthood has been in the bullseye for years from the zealots and anti-abortion activists. They had endured stings in the past, and knew in the wake of the the ACORN pimp-prostitute stings that they needed to be ready for James O’Keefe or his copycats.
And from what I know they were ready and on the ball. From the first visits they seem to have been monitoring the stingers and sending out red alerts to all of their affiliates to be ready for such subterfuge. Now from published reports they seem to have known that a dozen of their offices were hit with the similar tales of a pimp looking for medical help for underage prostitutes. Planned Parenthood reported the incidents in each case to federal and appropriate authorities. I’m not clear that any law was broken in such situations so the reports mainly provide relief for the organization if and when the whole sting becomes public.
Nonetheless the stingers, who were actors with something called “Live Action,” still managed to get some video of an office manager being way too helpful to these fools. Kaboom, it’s on the air. Slam, she’s fired and looking for advice on the unemployment line. Following the script, the stingers claim they have more to come signaling their hopes of creating a pattern of disclosures that were so devastating and unbalancing for ACORN when they were brought down this way.
I would think that Planned Parenthood did everything “right” organizationally. Unfortunately, like any large organization with a wide operations in the field, no policy will ever be perfectly followed, people are always going to be inappropriately helpful in human encounters, and finally, nobody and nothing is perfect, sad to say.
Nor does it seem to matter to the zealots. It is as irrelevant here as it was in the ACORN situation that there was no real illegality or institutional deceit. The aim is to create optics. The reality is secondary if not irrelevant.
And following the ACORN-sting play book, the hope here is to be able to stampede the herd in Congress to cut off all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Despite the facts again that such funding is not used for abortion, the zealots want to drive every dollar away and scare donors, which worked superbly in the ACORN sting. It didn’t matter if ACORN wasn’t getting any federal money, the Issa list of 300 odd corporations connected to the ACORN family was (and is) still being used as a excuse to not fund and deny contracts to unrelated entities in fear of the new McCarthyism in the land.
Sad state of affairs. Ironically, the very shadow of the ACORN sting may be what saves Planned Parenthood and other future targets of such stings. The delayed reaction that not only was ACORN burned but so was a sleepy press and an unsuspecting public has made people and politicians slightly more skeptical of the zealots gotcha games. O’Keefe’s exploits have besmirched such tactics whether with ACORN or the head scratching weirdness with Senator Mary Landrieu’s office. The stingers are even forced to claim they have disassociated themselves with the prototype models for their own tactics.
We can only hope that despite these kinds of efforts and the cowardice of the press and politicians in dealing with them so often, the fact that you can fool some of the people some of the time, still does not mean that you can fool the same people all of the time.