Scorning Stupak

Last night I killed a spider that was crawling on a pillow in my bed. It proved to be quite challenging, because the billowing pillow was not the best surface to squish the little bug into oblivion.

Who's another little bug running around who doesn't want to be squished? Rep. Bart Stupak, who seems to be a thorn in the Democratic side as of late. He's like the tick in your hair, the blister on your foot, or that pimple on your face. That's at least how The New York Times front-page profile reads. "Democrat Wears Scorn as Medal in Abortion Fight," the headline declares.

"Now he is enduring more hatred than perhaps any other member of Congress, much of it from fellow Democrats," reporter Jodi Kantor writes. So it's a popularity contest now?

While he might be the scorn of the Democratic Party, pro-choice advocates aren't the only people in the world. Something tells me--oh yes, maybe it's hundreds of unsolicited e-mails I've received from various groups--that Stupak has also become a darling in the pro-life movement. I'm just guessing, but wouldn't Republicans love him as well? The Times piece seems to ignore an entire group of people who have embraced Stupak to champion their cause.

The article includes just a brief sentence describing his amendment and how people might respond to it:

The amendment prevents women who receive federal insurance subsidies from buying abortion coverage--but critics assert it could cause women who buy their own insurance difficulty in obtaining coverage.

As Mark wrote earlier, the Times needs to be more explicit about why some people object to the bill as it was originally proposed. What exactly would happen if Stupak's amendment won't pass in the final version? If Stupak's amendment merely reflect current law, as he says, then why did he propose the amendment?

Then there's this odd paragraph that seems to suggest that Stupak is suddenly taking this stance to get attention.

Mr. Stupak says his stand is a straightforward matter of Roman Catholic faith, but it also seems like the result of a long, slow burn. As dinner progressed, the congressman described years of feeling ignored, slighted or marginalized by his party for his anti-abortion views.

And just like that, it seems, the reporter tosses aside Stupak's faith as though it were a mere cover. It's incredible how this is the only mention in the whole story of Stupak's Catholic faith.

Also, for the majority of the profile, it makes it seem as though Stupak is a one-man show, as if he's the only pro-life Democrat or something.

But Democratic control of the House carries a paradox: because the party expanded by winning what had been Republican districts, it has more members who oppose federal financing for abortions and restrictions on guns. Mr. Stupak's measure on abortion passed the House with the support of 64 Democrats.

So how many self-described pro-life Democrats are there in the House: 64? Are these gains in the Democratic Party recent or have the pro-life Democrats been around for a while? Stupak, for example, has been in the House since 1993.

Overall, the Times admirably spotlighted a person seemingly responsible for abortion-health care debates. The profile includes some colorful examples that help us understand what kind of background Stupak comes from, and it helps put a face on a larger issue. Though hopefully the next profile of Stupak can help us get past a popularity contest.

The YouTube clip is just a reference to the song "Popular" from Wicked. "Defying Gravity" is a better song, but you get the point.

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