Just about nothing in life is. In politics? Please; do not make me laugh so hard it hurts.
Apparently, however, the folks who run Planned Parenthood don't understand this principle.
Gay rights supporters in New York offered an instructive lesson during last year’s battle for marriage equality. Gay marriage passed in New York because four Republican legislators crossed party lines. They did it in part because they had true bipartisan financial support. Chad Griffin, who heads the Human Rights Campaign and helped spearhead the effort, told me, “the experience in New York not only showed that we could reach across the aisle, but also that we could successfully make this a bipartisan issue.”
Planned Parenthood has taken the opposite approach. Take Senator Susan Collins of Maine as an example. She was one of five Republicans who fought off attempts last year to eliminate federal financing for the group. She is also one of the few Republicans who consistently break with the party and side with Planned Parenthood on abortion rights legislation. But it would be a mistake to believe her actions suggest a warm working relationship with the organization. She calls the group “infuriating” and now nothing more than “an arm of the Democratic National Committee.”
SENATOR COLLINS once had close ties to the group. Planned Parenthood endorsed her in 2002 because of her strong record of votes supporting abortion rights. Yet in her 2008 campaign, Planned Parenthood turned on her. The issue was her vote to confirm Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. While the vote was a challenging one for Senator Collins, she says she came to it after speaking with Mr. Alito about his respect for precedent and whether he considered Roe v. Wade settled law. (Senator Collins has since also voted to confirm Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.) Ms. Collins was acting in the traditional (and admirable) spirit of the Senate, which tends to confirm judicial nominees unless the person is clearly unqualified.
Yet because of her Alito vote, Planned Parenthood tried to defeat her. In 2008 it withdrew its support and endorsed and provided money for her opponent. This was shortsighted from a policy standpoint, since Ms. Collins agreed with the organization on almost all legislation. But it was also unwise from a political standpoint, since she was favored to win re-election, and did.
Today Ms. Collins says she is still disappointed in the organization and how it cut ties to her. “Why should I try to make their case in the Republican caucus? I can’t answer my colleagues when they say to me that Planned Parenthood is just a political party, because it is true,” she told me.