‘No Room for Even Slight Deviations’: Campbell Brown Slams Planned Parenthood on MSNBC

Here’s a pop quiz: Suppose you heard about an organization that was the subject of a news story on MSNBC, and was described by members of the mainstream media with these phrases:

“Almost no room for even slight deviations.”

“Sees ideological purity as so paramount that it permeates every aspect of its strategic planning.”

“Those who are not in lock step with the organization are viewed as enemies to the cause.”

“Willing to support only lawmakers who are with it 100% of the time.”

Who would you think the organization was? Probably someone on the Right, given the abundance of intolerant descriptors, and the fact that it was being covered on MSNBC, right? Well, prepare for a surprise, because these words were, in fact, not written about any remotely conservative organization. They were actually written about…are you sitting down? Planned Parenthood.

Yes, really. Apparently Brown, despite being avowedly pro-choice and supporting federal funding for Planned Parenthood, has a real problem with the organizations intolerant refusal to support or listen to anyone who disagrees with them. In an op-ed that reads as twice as scathing because of how disappointed, rather than angry, its tone is, Brown opines as follows:

 But most worrisome is the organization’s shrinking number of defenders, and Planned Parenthood has only itself to blame. It has adopted a strategy driven by blind partisanship, electing to burn bridges instead of building them. That strategy is damaging, and possibly imperiling, its mission.[…]

Planned Parenthood sees ideological purity as so paramount that it permeates every aspect of its strategic planning. There is almost no room for even slight deviations. Those who are not in lock step with the organization are viewed as enemies to the cause. This mind-set will doom Planned Parenthood to failure. When an organization is willing to support only lawmakers who are with it 100 percent of the time, it virtually guarantees that the debate will be bitterly partisan.[…]

Senator [Susan] Collins once had close ties to the group. Planned Parenthood endorsed her in 2002 because of her strong record of votes supporting abortion rights. Yet in her 2008 campaign, Planned Parenthood turned on her. The issue was her vote to confirm Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. While the vote was a challenging one for Senator Collins, she says she came to it after speaking with Mr. Alito about his respect for precedent and whether he considered Roe v. Wade settled law. (Senator Collins has since also voted to confirm Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.) Ms. Collins was acting in the traditional (and admirable) spirit of the Senate, which tends to confirm judicial nominees unless the person is clearly unqualified.

Yet because of her Alito vote, Planned Parenthood tried to defeat her. In 2008 it withdrew its support and endorsed and provided money for her opponent. This was shortsighted from a policy standpoint, since Ms. Collins agreed with the organization on almost all legislation. But it was also unwise from a political standpoint, since she was favored to win re-election, and did.

Today Ms. Collins says she is still disappointed in the organization and how it cut ties to her. “Why should I try to make their case in the Republican caucus? I can’t answer my colleagues when they say to me that Planned Parenthood is just a political party, because it is true,” she told me. […]

After losing such an important ally, you might think Planned Parenthood would have learned something.

Indeed you would, though apparently the organization has not, and Brown is not finished making her case that they should. She’s gone on the warpath, appearing on  MSNBC’s Morning Joe to explain just how many things the controversial, pro-abortion group has gotten wrong.

“They have not endorsed or given one cent to a single Republican who’s running,” Brown says. “And I just don’t think that makes sense, I mean politics is cyclical. Democrats are up; Republicans are up. To not have friends on the other side of the aisle is a mistake over the long haul when you’re relying on almost half of your funding to come from the government.”

Ironically enough, Brown contrasts Planned Parenthood’s supporters with supporters of gay rights and their fight to get gay marriage legalized in the state of New York. Considering that gay marriage is a far more recent controversy, which doesn’t even have an established Supreme Court precedent backing it up the way Planned Parenthood does, this is a truly devastating point to make about the group’s ossifying public relations strategy. Granted, getting Republican support in New York is probably different from getting it, say, in Alabama, but if supporters of gay rights can get New York Republicans on their side, then there’s no reason Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be able to (in theory) get Northeastern Republicans generally to sign on with them, if they’re willing to make a few compromises. Which, according to Brown, they’re not.

There’s also an entertaining moment when one of Brown’s copanelists points out that the Republican party has moved in a more pro-Life direction, which might explain Planned Parenthood’s unwillingness to work with them. Brown fires back, “You could argue, so has the country.” By implication, the GOP is moving right on abortion simply because it’s in touch with voter concerns. And by equal implication, Planned Parenthood is not.

We admit to being intrigued by the idea of a Planned Parenthood that backs Republicans, especially if those Republicans happen to be good on every other issue (much as former Senator Barry Goldwater was). What would happen to the ability to tell moderates from conservatives in that situation? If Planned Parenthood takes Campbell Brown’s advice, time may well tell.