' Our suddenly silent president - Paul Greenberg

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May 24th, 2017

Insight

Our suddenly silent president

Paul Greenberg

By Paul Greenberg

Published August 5, 2015

   Our suddenly silent president

Silence comes in many varieties. It can be golden. Or just silence. Like the white space between the words on this page.

There is the silence that sounds like a confession, even if it isn't. ("On counsel's advice, I invoke my right under the Fifth Amendment not to answer, on the grounds I may incriminate myself.")

There is the silence of the perjurer as he weighs every word in an attempt to devise an escape clause. "To the best of my recollection..." as Alger Hiss used to say before trying to refute Whittaker Chambers' irrefutable testimony about Soviet espionage in the State Department.

There is the silence of prudence personified by Silent Cal (Coolidge), who never uttered an unnecessary word. As opposed to the witness who chooses to brazen it out ("I did not have sexual relations with that woman") but only digs himself into a deeper hole. And then has to take refuge in semantic games. ("It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is.")

Then there is the silence of an ordinarily glib politician who suddenly has nothing to say about an event in the news. As when the Hon. Barack Obama has no comment about those revealing videos featuring doctors with Planned Parenthood, who are caught talking about the fetal parts they're selling. The rest of the country may be repelled by those tapes, but our president remains ... silent.

How strange. Here is a president who's always had a lot of to say about a lot of things -- usually very smoothly. Whether the news of the day was the arrest of a black professor at his house near Harvard Square or the rash of black suspects shot down by white cops under suspicious circumstances, and the rioting that tends to follow.

Newspaper types could always count on this president for a quote about such matters. His usual response was to call for a National Conversation about race/inequality/fill-in-the-blank, depending on what subject had made the news of late.

But now our president has nothing to say about these revealing videos that strip Planned Parenthood of its cover. A national conversation about that subject would seem to be the last thing on his mind. He himself has studiously avoided the whole sordid subject. Call it an embarrassed silence.

Nor is the president the only one who's against discussing such matters. A court out in California has just issued a restraining order against the pro-life group that secretly recorded these videos. The order bars it from releasing any videos of leaders of StemExpress, the company Planned Parenthood uses as a go-between when it comes to buying and selling fetal tissue. Shut up, the court explains.

But others are speaking up, including a number of congressmen. It is Congress, after all, that holds the purse strings when it comes to financing Planned Parenthood's activities through federal grants, including those for the abortions that produce these fetal remains.

Planned Parenthood remains the country's largest abortion provider, thanks to your money, Dear Taxpayer. It performs about one out of every four abortions in this country. To quote one study, "since 1970, Planned Parenthood has performed more than 6 million abortions. In 2013 alone, Planned Parenthood performed a record 357,653 abortions."

Death is Planned Parenthood's business, and we the taxpayers have become its accomplices. On a scale numbering in the hundreds of thousands every year.

Yes, Planned Parenthood's clinics provide women with a lot more than abortions, like cancer screenings, but those aren't the basis of its business model. Abortion is. Women getting abortions make up 12 percent of Planned Parenthood's patients -- 332,000 out of 3 million, according to its most current report. And some 37 percent of its income comes from abortions.

There are a lot of other organizations, like community health clinics, that deliver health services for women, and would welcome the federal money -- without doing abortions. It's long past time to cut off Planned Parenthood's water and support local clinics instead, clinics that don't leave a trail of fetal body parts behind.

What would the president think of that idea? No comment. Only an embarrassed silence. And no matter how much support the idea may have in the House, the Senate isn't about to desert Planned Parenthood. The scandal may already be fading.

Maybe the president thinks this whole thing will blow over soon. And maybe he's right. Americans grow harder and harder to shock every passing year. And with every passing outrage that no longer outrages, our shock threshold grows ever higher. So why wouldn't the president think we would just ignore these videos, too? The same way he ignored Kermit Gosnell's abortion clinic/house of horrors when it was in the news. We grow numb to such sights.

There's a demand for abortions, and Planned Parenthood proposes to meet it, along with the demand for fetal parts. Business is business. And it's booming. You can't argue with success.

How did we get to this point? To quote Leon Kass, doctor and moralist: "It's a short step from the belief that every child should be wanted to the belief that a child exists to satisfy our wants." Even for body parts.

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Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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