WaPo: Bush Pro-Life Regs Onerous, Ideologically Offensive

“Controversial.” “Onerous.” “Ideologically offensive.”  These are the words used by Washington Post reporters Ceci Connolly and R. Jeffrey Smith to describe certain Bush administration regulations on mostly social issues, which they expect will be reversed quickly when President-elect Obama is inaugurated next year.

The Nov. 9 story, “Obama Positioned to Quickly Reverse Bush Actions,” revealed that Obama is “now consulting with liberal advocacy groups” in order to create a hit list of “the most onerous or ideologically offensive” regulatory and policy initiatives of the Bush administration.  Two of the top three initiatives identified in the Post's story are pro-life: restrictions on funding of embryonic stem cell research and abortion. The third is global warming.

Connolly and Smith left no doubt as to their feelings on pro-life initiatives.  Regulations “imposed” by President Bush include his “controversial” limit on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, which “pleased religious conservatives.”

According to the story, Obama is also expected, “to lift a so-called global gag rule barring international family planning groups that receive U.S. aid from counseling women about the availability of abortion, even in countries where the procedure is legal.”  This is the Mexico City Policy, a regulation put in place under President Reagan, rescinded by President Clinton and reinstituted by President George W. Bush. Post reporters used the word “reimposed” to describe Bush's action. And for them it is only President Bush who operates from a partisan agenda.

"The kind of regulations they are looking at" are those imposed by Bush for "overtly political" reasons, in pursuit of what Democrats say was a partisan Republican agenda, said Dan Mendelson, a former associate administrator for health in the Clinton administration's Office of Management and Budget. The list of executive orders targeted by Obama's team could well get longer in the coming days, as Bush's appointees rush to enact a number of last-minute policies in an effort to extend his legacy.

The story noted that Obama advisers say they will not delay, “key shifts in social and regulatory policies.”  Also, the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP), founded by former Clinton insider John Podesta, the co-chairman of Obama's transition team, is described as having “substantial” influence over the President-elect.

The center's influence with Obama is substantial: It was created by former Clinton White House official John D. Podesta, a co-chairman of the transition effort, and much of its staff has been swept into planning for Obama's first 100 days in office.

The Post correctly identified the CAP as a “liberal think tank” but only reported its influence in relation to Bush's climate change regulations Obama will seek to undo.  In fact CAP is radically liberal in its stance on social issues: pro-abortion, pro-same sex marriage, pro-Plan B, anti-abstinence.  With “much” of the CAP staff “swept into planning for Obama's first 100 days,” as the Post reported, it is a safe bet that other issues of importance to social conservatives are already on the table.

The Post also quoted Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, who said the country's leading abortion-provider is in near-daily communication with Obama's transition team and “expects to see real change.”  In other words, Planned Parenthood got the president they wanted.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.