Editorial: Baby killers, blood on your hands, and other political ploys

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

For awhile it looked like we would need crime scene tape at the Statehouse. After all, there was all this talk of baby murderers and blood on people’s hands. Come to find out, though, there was no need for a 911 call. It was just an outbreak of politics.

First was a confirmation hearing for David Toland, Gov. Laura Kelly’s nominee to lead the Kansas Department of Commerce. Such a hearing, of course, sparked a debate on abortion.

Somehow, the decision on whom to appoint as the Secretary of Commerce became heavily influenced by Kansans for Life, who criticized Toland because the economic development group he led in Iola had taken grant money from a fund honoring the late George Tiller, who ran a Wichita abortion clinic. The grant money had nothing to do with abortion, but that is beside the point. Tiller is characterized as a baby murderer, so any money that comes close to his name must be blood money. Somehow, Tiller is never characterized as a homicide victim, even though he was shot to death while attending church.

Come on, people. Yes, abortion is a divisive issue and creates many difficult questions. But if a group wants to honor the memory of a man who was killed in cold blood, just turn the other cheek, even if you don’t agree with what he stood for. Surely it is not that hard for politicians to do. Many of them have a policy that they’ll accept campaign contributions from anybody who can fog a mirror and make an ‘X’ on the signature line of a check. Yes, that may be harsh, but it would be rare to find a politician who has accepted money only from people he or she agrees completely with.

It is fine if you want to be a legislator who opposes abortion and you act on your convictions, but when you so blatantly try to wedge the issue into a matter that has nothing to do with the subject, it comes off sounding phony. It takes a serious subject and turns it into a cheap political prop.

Thankfully, enough of the Kansas Senate agreed this wasn’t the venue to decide the abortion issue and approved Toland’s nomination, overriding a Senate committee’s recommendation for denial.

Next was a protest about the state’s inaction to expand Medicaid. It featured a trio of large banners that were unfurled from the rotunda proclaiming that certain Republican legislators had “blood on their hands” for not allowing a Medicaid expansion plan to advance.

No, they really don’t. Even if you think Medicaid expansion is a good idea, you can’t really think that people who oppose it are responsible for the deaths of people who didn’t receive health care due to a lack of insurance. If that is the accepted logic, then there is a long list of killers: the hospital that wouldn’t provide the care for free, the church and philanthropic organizations that didn’t fund the care, and so on and so forth.

The people who oppose Medicaid expansion have policy and philosophical objections to the idea, many of them fiscally based. They think it will end up costing the state a tremendous amount of money, which they believe may create hardships and suffering for other Kansas residents.

Medicaid supporters should continue to push for expansion. It will make the lives of Kansans better, and it seems that a majority of the state agrees. Keep pushing, but hurtful hyperbole won’t be a winning strategy.

Instead, a winning strategy probably will involve some sort of compromise. There used to be an old political saying that a half-loaf is better than no loaf at all. Politicians used to eat half-loaves. Now, too many, are content to gorge themselves on a buffet of hyperbole and vitriol.

Maybe the Statehouse doesn’t need to be wrapped in crime scene tape. Instead, a heavy log chain may be a better wrapping. Keep it locked until everybody learns to play nicer and compromise more.


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