Embarrassing ignorance, or deliberate deceit? You make the call:
On Tuesday night’s Daily Show, Stewart ripped into the GOP leadership for engaging in “f*ckery” by holding up a bipartisan bill designed to combat human sex trafficking. Hapless Democrats, in contrast, were guilty of mere “dumbassery” by trusting Republicans wouldn’t add anti-abortion language to the legislation. “It’s the same way nobody blames the bears in Grizzly Man for eating the delicious-looking meat sack who kept sticking his hands in their poop.” Stewart cracked. “‘Cause they’re bears!” The comedian worked through his usual routine, slamming Mitch McConnell for ”bowing down to right-wing special interests” and lamenting bipartisan — but almost-entirely Republican — dysfunction on Capitol Hill. The clip circulated widely through the left-wing media, with outlets like Talking Points Memo, Salon and Raw Story noting Stewart’s self-righteous fury with approval.
The clip, if you'd like to subject yourself to it, is here. At the risk of repeating myself, Stewart's narrative is comprehensively unsupported by the facts:
(1) Senate Republicans are not holding up anti-sex-trafficking legislation by any stretch of the imagination. They introduced the bill in question, brought it to the floor, and voted unanimously in its support. Democrats have twice filibustered the bill, preventing a yes/no vote.
(2) Democrats claim their opposition arises from language that bars taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions within a new fund created under the proposed law. At first, they tried to claim that Republicans surreptitiously inserted the provision at the last minute. Not true. The bill's full text has been available for months. Republicans informed Democrats of their intent to include the abortion language last year. One top Democratic staffer has admitted she knew about the 'offending' item all along
(3) The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the bill -- with the abortion passage intact -- without a single dissenting vote on Feburary 26. Democrats included. Mollie Hemingway notes that the legislation was introduced with 13 Democratic co-sponsors, ten of whom are now filibustering their own bill. She also highlights this tweet from the abortion lobby:
Actually, nobody else noticed because eight female Senators, including four Republicans, were sponsors of the bill when NARAL tweeted that out. But who can be bothered with facts when there are fanatical ideological narratives to serve?
(4)The execrable Dick Durbin declared that Republicans' stance in favor of the anti-trafficking legislation is evidence of their "anti-women" crusade. When the Weekly Standard's& John McCormack asked him if the Democrats who have sided with the GOP to break the filibuster and pass the bill as written are also waging a 'war on women,' Durbin said he "respects" their decision. Republican support for the bill is anti-women. Democratic support for the bill is respectable and fair.
(5) Mitch McConnell, the primary object of Stewart's self-righteous ire, offered Democratic leaders an up-or-down, simple majority vote on removing the "controversial" abortion language from the bill. They promptly objected, presumably because their members didn't want to go on record regarding that particular issue -- even though it's the entire basis for their obstructionist gambit.
(6) Why might Democrats be antsy about actively voting for taxpayer-funded abortion? Because it's extremely unpopular with the American people. Hemingway and McCormack cite a 2010 Q-poll showing two-thirds of the public in opposition. A 2015 Marist survey pegs opposition at 68 percent. Non-conservative columnist Eleanor Clift writes that the legal prohibition on taxpayer-financed abortion is a settled matter, and that legislative language routinely reflects that reality. Harry Reid himself has voted to maintain that anti-abortion status quo on many occasions, touting his alleged support for the "sanctity of life." Democrats are picking a fight over a longstanding policy that enjoys broad consensus support -- and they're doing so while blocking a measure designed to help victims of human sex trafficking. It's literally indefensible. Hemingway is correct that the top take-away from this ignominious episode is that extreme abortion special interests are in firm control the Democratic Party. Another lesson is that Democrats seem to be pushing their obstructionism as far as possible, curious to see just how much the media will let them get away with. Jon Stewart's diatribe is the sort of perfidious positive reinforcement they're hoping to elicit. If the Left can successfully 'controversialize' standard Hyde Amendment-style abortion funding restrictions, they'll set a radical new precedent -- one that would please their abortion lobby donors, and very few others. Republicans must hold the line on this. Force Democrats to filibuster this bill every single day, and suspend all other non-essential business until their ugly effort is defeated.