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Monday, November 10, 2008

Today’s Yay

posted by on November 10 at 15:05 PM

On the heels of news that Obama is considering two anti-choice Republicans, Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar as his Secretary of State (all those who think foreign policy has nothing to do with women’s rights, please redirect your attention here, here, here, or here), here’s some potential good news: Obama seems poised to overturn one of the worst aspects of Bush’s anti-woman foreign policy, the global gag rule. The gag rule bars US foreign aid from any family planning group that even counsels pregnant women about abortion, including in countries where abortion is legal. Planned Parenthood Federation president Cecile Richards told the Washington Post she expects “a real change” to the United States’ family-planning policies abroad, RH Reality Check reports.

Meanwhile, one of Obama’s public health advisors told Bloomberg she expects the president-elect will reverse US policies that emphasize abstinence and monogamy within marriage in poor countries such as Rwanda and Uganda—policies that don’t work in places where infidelity by men is nearly universal and where basic information about safe sex is in short supply.

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Hasn't the world had enough Republican incompetence? Why put them in key foreign policy positions when there are so many qualified Democrats who want the job?

Posted by Vince | November 10, 2008 3:17 PM

I'm not too worried - they know President Obama's in charge and will follow his instructions, even if they don't agree with his position.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 10, 2008 3:19 PM

Yay! The global gag rule has always stuck in my head as one of the most obvious and painful examples of the difference the choice of president makes. I even wrote a letter to Dubya about it once. I hope Obama reverses the decision on his first day in office.

Posted by leek | November 10, 2008 3:24 PM

Our foreign aid with regard to family planning should consist mostly of as many free condoms BC and abortions people want.

Possibly also the development of better BC that is undetectable by ones partner for such places where women cannot exercise such things openly.

Posted by Giffy | November 10, 2008 3:31 PM

Right - we'd be mistaken to look for any sort of ideological purity in the Obama administration. He's already made it clear that he's going to surround himself with a variety of viewpoints, but at the end of the day, he's the boss.

Posted by David | November 10, 2008 3:33 PM

Though Hagel may be a Republican, he spoke out loudly against the war.

Hagel's party affiliation is an asset to Obama, who should and will follow through with his promise to be a unifying leader.

Hagel's views on abortion are unfortunate, but they are also irrelevant. The Obama administration is not going to pursue an anti-choice agenda because of Hagel or any other cabinet member.

The Supreme Court is what really matters, and those appointments are Obama's call.

Posted by seandr | November 10, 2008 3:47 PM

I've got to agree with Erica here.

Not only should Larry Summers be disqualified from Treasury for his sexist views, not only should Hagel and Lugar be disqualified from State for their anti-choice views, but the Seahawks should cut Mass Hasselbeck for his having endorsed John McCain. You're in Seattle, Matt. Get with the program.

I just hope and pray that the Obama administration will take a page from the Bush administration and base their civil service hiring not on old-fashioned qualifications but rather on candidates' fealty to liberal orthodoxy.

I'll tell you, there are a lot of qualified people out there with the correct political views. I mean, you could have Naomi Wolf in some cabinet post. Heck, why not Erica C. Barnett at Treasury? I mean, at least she's not a bigamist like that Warren Buffett guy.

Posted by cressona | November 10, 2008 3:56 PM

Whaat, Obama is such a weakling he won't actually tell his S of S to be pro choice?

If you think Obama's that weak, um, you shouldn't have supported him for pres. That's just insane.

Oh yes it's true there are many ultra politically correct candidates, cresssona, but you gotta take into account this.

There is a huge overall bump in the Obama presidency's political capital thru having a bipartisan secretary of state.

Huge, huge, huge.

This could far outweigh any imagined "harm" thu your imaginary fears that someone like Lugar is going to be fighting in the white house re: contraception in foriegn aid, etc.

He won't fucking care. They care about war and shit like that you know.

In the end, the political capital increment that Obama gets coudl result in his having more political throweight which could lead to mo' better implementation of his policies across the board.... including choice.

Remember "unity" and "one America"?????

Nope, guess you forgot.

Unity -

Goddamn just stop with the freaking litmus tests and let Pres. Obama govern.

If he picks Lugar or Hegeel for Sec. of State, they're going to follow Obama's policy on choice.

You think Obama is such a big fat p---I mean wussy that he can't make them follow his policies?

So it's stupid to think it's really about having antichoice policies withon our foriegn policy. Choice plays a small part in our foreign policy compared to:

nuclear prolif.
NATO v. Russia George, Ukraine
Darfur, genocide 'n' stuff.

And oh yes, OBL and Iran and IRaqq and all that shit.

IT JUST MIGHT BE that the political benefits for the overall Obama presidency that come from having a bipartisan cabinet FAR FAR FAR outweigh the marginal "harm" to choice that comes with someone like a Lugar or even a Summers.

I suggest you acknowledge the other side of the balance here. Instead of acting like it doesn't exist. I don't know if I care about this issue or not (I care about choice, not sure as litmus test for S of and stuff. Btw I am sure Kugar and Heagel Hegel whoever are agaisnt rapie as an instrument of war and btw if fyou want to get some good gender equality in our foreign poicy why dont' we start there.

Posted by PC | November 10, 2008 4:06 PM


An IUD is undetectable. We could fund free gyn exams for women, offer them IUDs if they want long-lasting, undetectable birth control, and the men would be none the wiser.

Posted by keshmeshi | November 10, 2008 4:08 PM

Chuck Hagel actually has good views on foreign policy, and he's been ostracized from the Republican party because he has always told the truth about Iraq.

That said, Secretary of State does a lot more than just dealing with Iraq, and I can't say if his judgment would be as good on other issues. (I'm still in the middle of the article in the New Yorker that profiles him.)

Posted by AK | November 10, 2008 4:12 PM

OMG, I agree with cressona about Matt. True, he needs to learn that he's in Seattle, and he plays by OUR rules.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 10, 2008 4:24 PM

For Obama to say that the most qualified people to give us a new direction in our foreign policy are Republicans reinforces the idea that Democrats are weak on national defense, and implies that they have no new ideas.

For Obama to appoint a free market ideologue to head the Treasury at a time when the world is desperately searching for alternatives to the most self-destructive and unstable aspects of neoliberal globalization would be tragic, and implies that if we don't push Obama left, we can anticipate more attempts to use taxpayer money to bailout unsound industries rather than to promote a transition to a green economy that lifts people out of poverty.

Posted by Trevor | November 10, 2008 4:32 PM

@9: IUDs are good, and popular outside the US, but we can't rely on them exclusively. For one thing, they don't do jack about HIV.

Posted by Greg | November 10, 2008 4:35 PM

As happy as I am about this, I'm more excited about closing Guantanamo.

Posted by Gitai | November 10, 2008 4:43 PM

This would be brilliant if Nebraska or Indiana had a Democratic governor to appoint Hagel's/Luger's replacement. As it is, perhaps less so.

Posted by oljb | November 10, 2008 4:46 PM

For the Summers haters, check out:

Also, doesn't this just shoot holes in your anti-Hagel screed? If Obama can do this, and still appoint Hagel, then it's clear that Hagel's pro-life views do not matter. Litmus test! Litmus test!

Posted by F | November 10, 2008 4:48 PM

Most importantly, check out this.

Excerpt:Larry has been a true advocate for women throughout his career. In 1992, as Chief Economist of the World Bank, Larry argued in front of the world's Finance Ministers that the highest return investment they could make in their economies was to educate their girls. Through his work, girls' education became a focus for development experts and a topic not just in education ministries, but in financial ministries worldwide.

Posted by F | November 10, 2008 4:50 PM

The President of the United States will determine administration policy. It will be the job of the Secretary of State to implement that policy. If the Secretary of State is unable to implement the policy, as set by the President, then he should resign or he will be fired. This is pretty simple.

As to his party, maybe appointing a Republican who agrees with virtually every foreign policy position of the administration will give it credibility, it won't make people perceive the administration as weak. Also, given the state of unilateral foreign policy from the last 8 years, maybe this signals a thawing of politicization of something that shouldn't be politicized in the way that it has been.

We want ideological purity? How did that work the last 8 years? The idea that, just because it will be liberal instead of conservative, everything will be different is kinda silly. One of the most exciting aspects of Obama is his willingness to listen to wildly divergent views, respect them, consider them, and either adopt or reject them as he sees fit. This is a President who wants to hear different opinions, which is a good thing. Ultimately, though, it will be up to him to set American policy.

I might also add that, as far as I know, Hagel is the only Republican member of the Senate who declined to endorse McCain (and publicly declined to do so). Instead, he traveled with Obama in his big Mid East/Europe trip, giving it a sense of bipartisanship and amplifying its impact. Hagel's wife actually publicly endorsed Obama, raised significant money for him, and was his guest, along with Hillary Clinton, at one of the presidential debates.

Hagel is a conservative guy, but unlike McCain, evidently, he does actually place principle above politics - as the Iraq War has clearly shown. I'm a liberal Nebraskan (very liberal and very rare) but I would have no problem with Hagel as Secretary of State. There are positions I wouldn't want him in, but this is not one of them.

Lastly, if he were to pick Hagel, it wouldn't change the Senate at all. Hagel is retiring from his seat. His successor has already been elected, a man named Mike Johanns. Trust me, Hagel was immeasurably better than this idiot.

Posted by Ed | November 10, 2008 8:00 PM

PPPPLLLLEEEAAASSSEEE. Just stop it. Who the fuck cares what Hagel thinks on choice issues. The Secretary of State doesn't decide abortion policy either in the U.S. or as part of foreign policy. Do you remotely know how the world works?????? And don't you think it's just a little more pro-woman to have someone as Secretary of State who actually understands and detests the horrors of war. Jesus fuck. No wonder you were stuck on Hillary for so fucking long. You are nothing but a moron.

Posted by Mike in Iowa | November 10, 2008 8:11 PM

Those four links are irrelevant. I don't think that foreign policy has nothing to do with women's rights. I just don't think that the Secretary of State's views on abortion are that relevant to his job, unless for some reason he's unable to do his job because of it. And if that's the case, then he probably wouldn't be hired.

Posted by another Andy | November 11, 2008 12:10 AM

I have no problem if Obama seeks Republican input on foreign policy. But after so many bad feelings world wide about the past administration, I think it's crucial to reassure people things have really changed.

Posted by Vince | November 11, 2008 7:08 AM

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