Today brought yet another example of why I respect Bill Bennett. I listen to his talk radio show in the mornings and he is a refreshing, calm voice in a sea of overly dramatic and shrill voices. He is not into the standard 'gotcha' politics and refrains from knee-jerk remarks.
This afternoon, Bennett was on a panel during Wolf Blitzer's show from the Republican Party Convention. He is a regular, token conservative commentator for CNN. Today's show featured a report from Kyra Phillips in Anchorage. Phillips, not exactly a beacon of professional behavior, was slobbering to slam Governor Sarah Palin by way of the announcement of her daughter's pregnancy. Remarking, "there were a number of things that we were sent here to investigate," including "trooper-gate", but before that, she stressed "here's what's interesting," that Palin "has gone on the record and said that she is in full support of abstinence, and that she doesn't believe in contraception on school grounds and sex education." "Phillips then highlighted:
"The Alliance for Reproductive Justice...says abstinence doesn't work, we've got to have better sex education in schools and this is just one example, this just underscores --the pregnancy of the Governor's daughter -- to why we need sex education in schools."
Nice bitch slap, Kyra. The Alliance of Reproductive Justice is a pro-choice organization. OK. She was using both sides of an argument. I'm pro-choice. Bill Bennett is not, but he is pro-sex education in the schools. He is a former Secretary of Education. His wife founded and runs a very successful non-profit in D.C. that encourages pre-teen and teenage girls to practice abstinence.
However, Dr. Bennett called Phillips on the carpet for bringing Bristol Palin into the argument with Palin on her pro-life stance. It was a really cheap talking point. It was CNN.
"But that first piece of attack of journalism, Wolf, I got to speak to. We all praised Barack Obama, myself included, for saying, do no use the case of this child to start to beat up Sarah Palin and to use this as an opportunity to make points for the Center for Reproductive Pregnancy. That was really out and out outrageous. That should not happen on CNN". Blitzer did the usual stammering as he does when he is caught pulling stunts.
And, Kyra Phillips was enjoying the aspect that she had been sent to Alaska to dig up all the dirt she could about Governor Palin. Hey, why didn't she work in the Obama quote that unplanned pregnancies were "punishment" he didn't want his daughters to have to deal with?
Debate the abstinence programs all you want as public policy. Barack Obama was mistaken (I'll give him the benefit of the doubt) when he stated confidently that since the Bush administration and its support of abstinence programs that abortions have risen. He said it as a part of the discussion at Saddleback Church. It's not true though. He knows that.
The point is, leave a 17 year old young woman out of making your point. Do not hold her up as an example, in your mind anyway, of the failures of her mother's public policy.
Well done, Dr. Bennett.