Some things are sure bets. There will be a World Series this year, and the Milwaukee Brewers won't be in it. A few months later, there will be a Super Bowl, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won't be in it. Several months later, the Minnesota Timberwolves won't be in the NBA finals. Between now and then, it will snow in Maine, Vermont, and Wisconsin. And when someone accuses you of "nitpicking," he has lost the argument.
The National Review's Jonah Goldberg is unaware (or is at least pretending to be unaware) that
Seeking to avert a government shutdown, Republican leaders drove a bill blocking Planned Parenthood's federal funds through the House on Friday, hoping to contain conservatives' demands for a politically risky showdown with President Barack Obama by striking a quick blow against abortion.
The nearly party-line 241-187 vote followed a no-holds-barred debate that included a graphic, poster-sized photo of a scarred, aborted fetus and underscored how abortion has resurfaced as a white-hot political issue. The battle has been rejoined just in time for the 2016 election campaign and next week's historic address to Congress by Pope Francis.
The issue's re-emergence followed the release of secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood officials offhandedly discussing how they sometimes procure tissue from aborted fetuses for medical research.
Two days earlier, Carly Fiorina at the GOP presidential debate pontificated
As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.
This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up in and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.
Now that Fiorina has been exposed as a fabricator (which she already had proven herself to be), Goldberg concedes "The exact scene, exactly as Fiorina describes it, is not on the videos."
That seems rather clear. However, it doesn't really matter because Goldberg says: never mind. He protests "But anybody who has watched the videos would find Fiorina's off-the-cuff account pretty accurate."
As Sarah Kliff has outlined, there is no footage of the moment described by the former Planned Parenthood technician, nor hard evidence that it even occurred. The footage of the fetus isn't from the Planned Parenthood videos; one image is of a still born baby and "other footage evidently is derived from a collection of stock footage of fetuses."
Goldberg doesn't deny Fiorina's account is inaccurate, instead claiming her "critics want to claim that because she didn't take into account these distinctions, she's just making stuff up." Facts become "distinctions" and irrelevant to him. The critics, obsessed with facts, have "become Jesuitical nitpickers, muddying the water to conceal the fact that late-term abortions offend the conscience when discussed or displayed with anything like journalistic accuracy."
Accuracy doesn't matter, as long as it's "anything like journalistic accuracy," and especially if it reinforces the notion of abortion as offensive to the conscience. Because late-term abortions are objectionable, anything goes. It's "muddying the waters" to note that Fiorina preceded her rant with "as regards to Planned Parenthood," notwithstanding the absence of evidence of any connection to Planned Parenthood.
Hoaxes happen. More significantly, the reasoning displayed by Goldberg is characteristic of much of modern conservative thought. Details are unnecessary, facts expendable. Late-term abortion shocks the conscience, reasons Goldberg, so any visual depiction, or description, of the procedure is righteous.
Carly Fiorina- "as regards to Planned Parenthood"- lustily joined the wholesale, destructive attack on Planned Parenthood, even suggesting it is linked to the regime in Tehran. She went on to describe vividly a scene (even frighteningly referring to "harvesting organs") which she had little reason to believe took place at Planned Parenthood. With its potential to damage reproductive rights, it has far greater implications than anything Ann Coulter has said about Pope Francis, Donald Trump about Barack Obama, or Ben Carson about Muslims.