Ezra has a post up about the Bush administration’s last minute reign of destruction on America, specifically the process of “burrowing”, where political appointees are moved to career positions. It doesn’t seem out of the norm for this to happen, but what’s different in this case is they’re burrowing a bunch of people who ideologically oppose the very existence of their own jobs. Firing them because they refuse to do the jobs assigned to them seems to be common sense, but the Obama administration probably best avoid that because it’ll come off as a political firing, even though the incompetence firing is indistinguishable from a political firing when your politics require you to be incompetent.
It’s not just burrowing that the Bush administration is engaging in, either. To no one’s great surprise, they’re pushing through HHS regulations that allow health care workers to do everything in their power to sabotage a woman’s contraception use in an effort to trick her into getting pregnant against her will. This, despite an unprecedented public outcry. There’s a couple of lessons to be learned from this.
First of all, it settles the debate over whether or not Bush’s patriarchal religiosity is a political put-on or whether or not he’s a true believer. It’s always been up for question. When Bush waxed, um, poetic about the lives of “snowflake babies” (embryos created in IVF, who he thinks are more honored by being flushed down the toilet rather than used in research), it was hard to figure out if anyone could lack self-awareness to that level. What next? Calling Jenna and Barbara his seed? Anne Lamott made me laugh out loud when she wrote, “Plus I am so confused about why we are still having to argue with patriarchal sentimentality about teeny weenie so-called babies – some microscopic, some no bigger than the sea monkeys we used to send away for….” Clearly, she saw a true believer in Bush, probably because she had a lot of experience dealing with religious “pro-life” men and knew exactly how insecure they were, how badly they needed to believe that they did all the important work in creating the baby, that a woman’s contribution of 9 months of her life paled in comparison with the mighty effort of ejaculation. Because that’s the crux of it, isn’t it? If you believe life starts as conception, you embrace a view where the baby exists after the man has exerted and a woman has lain passive.* If you believe that a baby is formed slowly over 9 months in a process called “pregnancy”—and that therefore what’s in there becomes more and more baby-like over time and therefore we have a slowly growing interest in protecting its life, as Roe argues—you’re pro-choice. Also, you have a view of the world rooted in biology, not in rejecting biology because it doesn’t stroke your cock and tell you how big it is.
But I digress. The point is that these midnight HHS regulations won’t count for much political capital, and while anti-choicers will be somewhat comforted by their new legal right to personally interfere with women’s ability to get contraception(if they get medical jobs), it won’t make up for the fact that after 8 years of the Bush administration, abortion is still legal, birth control pills are legal, sodomy is legal, and kids still know where to find condoms. Women are still fucking, you know, and you’d think they’d have figured out a way to stop that. We did put a man on the moon, and yet we can’t handle this crazy female copulation problem. Since this won’t buy the Republicans anything with their base that wasn’t purchased with Sarah Palin, it’s not a political move. Bush and his peeps are true believers.
The other thing it settles is the “Bush: bumbling fool or sadistic asshole?” debate. Not that there was much doubt in my mind after 8 years, but sadistic asshole wins hands down. Even bumbling fools know that the result of a woman being slut-shamed by her pharmacist who steals her birth control prescription or an orderly who takes her pills away from her while she’s staying in the hospital knows that the woman is likely not to fall to her knees and thank Jesus for saving her from her slatternly ways. No, the result is going to be the rush of sadism felt by bullies, the helpless anger felt by victims. Full stop. Aiding and abetting that interaction for no real reason seems to be an extension of that bullying urge.
*I wonder if pro-lifers know you can get pregnant with a woman on top. Probably not, and there’s probably a few that would be surprised you can do it that way.