Senator Nelson: The man in the mirror

Over one hundred years ago, GK Chesterton, an influential English writer, decried the loss of ideals in politics, stating they have been "driven out by the cry of efficiency," which may roughly be translated as "politics for politics' sake." 

The behavior of Senator Ben Nelson this past weekend is the crowning achievement of "efficiency" over "general ideals" in politics. After a career as a self-proclaimed pro-life Democrat, it appears the Senator wore his ideals very lightly. It took hardly any effort at all for him to throw them off.

Senator Nelson has since tried to convince us that he improved the Senate bill's stance on abortion. But what does the bill he signed on to actually say?

Supposedly, Senator Harry Reid's
managers' amendment "requires all enrollees in an abortion-covering plan to make a separate payment into an account that will pay for abortions." Senator Nelson says this creates a "firewall" that will keep private funds used for abortions absolutely separate from federal funds that subsidize insurance policies. Riiiiight. And all those Social Security surpluses are in Al Gore's lockbox. 

According to the National Right to Life Committee:

The firewall also exists only so long as the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services continues to contain the Hyde Amendment -- thus, if Congress or the president blocks renewal of it then "the Reid bookkeeping requirements would automatically evaporate, and insurers could pay for elective abortions with the federal subsidies without even bookkeeping requirements."

So, the firewall that Senator Nelson insisted upon in order to uphold the Hyde Amendment remains erected only so long as the pro-abortion Democrat Senate continues to preserve the Hyde Amendment. Forgive me if I am not reassured.

The Reid/Obama bill also does not contain the conscience protections found in the Stupak amendment in the House bill. These protections allow health care workers to refuse to participate in elective abortion procedures. For pro-life nurses who could now be asked to assist in elective abortions, this is a betrayal by Senator Nelson of the highest order. Catholic hospitals have said they will close rather than have their facilities used as abortion clinics. This is not a game. But it seems it was merely a game to Senator Nelson. His actions are the height of cynicism, the triumph of efficiency over ideals.

Senator Nelson crossed the line. If he wanted a sweetheart deal for Nebraska (like the money obtained by Senator Landrieu for Louisiana) he didn't have to take a cherished belief of millions of Americans in the sanctity of life and toss it out like so much garbage. He could have teased and flirted with Harry Reid just like Senator Lieberman. He could have huffed and blustered about like Senator Bernie Sanders. Instead, Senator Nelson raised the hopes of pro-life Americans, and is now
puzzled that we are devastated by his capitulation.

When politics loses all ideals, we are left with nothing but efficiency, or process. This is manifestly demonstrated by watching the media coverage of the Senate deliberations, their fascination with how Senator Reid is getting to the magic sixty votes and their repeating ad nauseum the tired cliché "no one should watch sausages or laws being made."  Actually, I remember helping my Italian grandmother make sausage. That process was much more appetizing then the sickening display taking place in the US Senate this week. 

Abortion is not just a political issue to pro-life Americans. It is a deeply held conviction. Many of us have protested, given money, and staffed crisis pregnancy centers---for years.  We are not frivolous, like a college student with a "Yes We Can!" t-shirt who decides to go vegan this week.  ABC news
reported that Senator Nelson struck a "compromise" on the availability of abortions. But pro-lifers weren't looking for compromise. We expected Senator Nelson to keep his word to uphold his pro-life ideals.

In years past, when reading of a politician or celebrity caught in a scandal, (Bill Clinton, Woody Allen, etc) I would usually say something like, "How can he look at himself in the mirror?" My husband, being much more cynical than I, would always laugh at my naiveté and claim that the celebrity probably had no problem whatsoever looking in the mirror.  This weekend my husband asked me, "How can Senator Nelson look at himself in the mirror?"

I didn't laugh.

Carol Peracchio is a registered nurse.
Over one hundred years ago, GK Chesterton, an influential English writer, decried the loss of ideals in politics, stating they have been "driven out by the cry of efficiency," which may roughly be translated as "politics for politics' sake." 

The behavior of Senator Ben Nelson this past weekend is the crowning achievement of "efficiency" over "general ideals" in politics. After a career as a self-proclaimed pro-life Democrat, it appears the Senator wore his ideals very lightly. It took hardly any effort at all for him to throw them off.

Senator Nelson has since tried to convince us that he improved the Senate bill's stance on abortion. But what does the bill he signed on to actually say?

Supposedly, Senator Harry Reid's
managers' amendment "requires all enrollees in an abortion-covering plan to make a separate payment into an account that will pay for abortions." Senator Nelson says this creates a "firewall" that will keep private funds used for abortions absolutely separate from federal funds that subsidize insurance policies. Riiiiight. And all those Social Security surpluses are in Al Gore's lockbox. 

According to the National Right to Life Committee:

The firewall also exists only so long as the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services continues to contain the Hyde Amendment -- thus, if Congress or the president blocks renewal of it then "the Reid bookkeeping requirements would automatically evaporate, and insurers could pay for elective abortions with the federal subsidies without even bookkeeping requirements."

So, the firewall that Senator Nelson insisted upon in order to uphold the Hyde Amendment remains erected only so long as the pro-abortion Democrat Senate continues to preserve the Hyde Amendment. Forgive me if I am not reassured.

The Reid/Obama bill also does not contain the conscience protections found in the Stupak amendment in the House bill. These protections allow health care workers to refuse to participate in elective abortion procedures. For pro-life nurses who could now be asked to assist in elective abortions, this is a betrayal by Senator Nelson of the highest order. Catholic hospitals have said they will close rather than have their facilities used as abortion clinics. This is not a game. But it seems it was merely a game to Senator Nelson. His actions are the height of cynicism, the triumph of efficiency over ideals.

Senator Nelson crossed the line. If he wanted a sweetheart deal for Nebraska (like the money obtained by Senator Landrieu for Louisiana) he didn't have to take a cherished belief of millions of Americans in the sanctity of life and toss it out like so much garbage. He could have teased and flirted with Harry Reid just like Senator Lieberman. He could have huffed and blustered about like Senator Bernie Sanders. Instead, Senator Nelson raised the hopes of pro-life Americans, and is now
puzzled that we are devastated by his capitulation.

When politics loses all ideals, we are left with nothing but efficiency, or process. This is manifestly demonstrated by watching the media coverage of the Senate deliberations, their fascination with how Senator Reid is getting to the magic sixty votes and their repeating ad nauseum the tired cliché "no one should watch sausages or laws being made."  Actually, I remember helping my Italian grandmother make sausage. That process was much more appetizing then the sickening display taking place in the US Senate this week. 

Abortion is not just a political issue to pro-life Americans. It is a deeply held conviction. Many of us have protested, given money, and staffed crisis pregnancy centers---for years.  We are not frivolous, like a college student with a "Yes We Can!" t-shirt who decides to go vegan this week.  ABC news
reported that Senator Nelson struck a "compromise" on the availability of abortions. But pro-lifers weren't looking for compromise. We expected Senator Nelson to keep his word to uphold his pro-life ideals.

In years past, when reading of a politician or celebrity caught in a scandal, (Bill Clinton, Woody Allen, etc) I would usually say something like, "How can he look at himself in the mirror?" My husband, being much more cynical than I, would always laugh at my naiveté and claim that the celebrity probably had no problem whatsoever looking in the mirror.  This weekend my husband asked me, "How can Senator Nelson look at himself in the mirror?"

I didn't laugh.

Carol Peracchio is a registered nurse.