Updated: January 18, 2014 at 11:14 am
Another campaign ramping up, another dumbing down of intelligent rhetoric to distort and confuse.
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who seeks the Republican nomination to run for the U.S. Senate, was asked about abortion this week. A cancer survivor, he understands how any person wants control over personal medical decisions.
Advocates of abortion rights frequently speak of a woman's right to control her body. It's a formidable point, regardless of one's personal feelings about an intractably controversial topic.
A radio interviewer this week asked about abortion and the desire women have to make their own decisions when they're pregnant. A Princeton-educated intellectual, Buck gave a philosophical response based in personal experience. It was honest, insightful and respectful dialogue that advanced the discussion.
"It's certainly the feeling that I had when I was a cancer patient, I wanted to be in control of the decisions that were made concerning my body—there is another fundamental issue at stake. And that's the life of the unborn child," Buck said.
Let's review: He understands the desire a person has to make independent medical decisions. After all, he has been there. But pregnancy is different. It's different, in his view, because it involves another life.
Those who disagree should feel free to have at it. Take Buck on for his view of the unborn. That discussion would at least have a nexus with Buck's point.
But that's not what we do in a political idiocracy that gets stupider by the day. A majority of the mainstream media won't allow an honest discussion on the merits of Buck's point. They'll prefer to incite hostility about a deliberate distortion of what the candidate said. It's just a little white lie, and it goes like this: Buck compared pregnancy to cancer.
Of course, Buck did precisely the opposite by explaining that one condition involves another life. But don't let facts stand in the way of an opportunity to mislead. The audience, assumed ignorant by the messenger, is supposed to respond with outrage. By golly, a pregnancy is not cancer. This is an insult to pregnant women and cancer patients alike. Bad, bad Ken Buck.
When the Denver Post seized the occasion to journalistically assault Buck, State Rep. Amy Stephens capitalized—at least as the Post portrays things. A fellow Republican, Stephens wants the same nomination Buck seeks. The Post reports how Stephens "insisted" Buck's comment compared "cancer and pregnancy." Stephens reminded Post readers how Buck once equated homosexuality with alcoholism. In truth, Buck explained that each involves behavior and genetics—a point that's hard to refute, whether one supports or opposes gay rights or same-sex marriage. Aside from Stephens, the Post went to an expert for help in smearing Buck's statement.
"It is a bit of a head-scratcher, linking decisions on health care—whether cancer, heart attack, arthritis, gunshot wounds—to the reproductive issue," said John Straayer, a professor of political science at Colorado State University.
It's not a head scratcher. Not in the least, professor. Society has categorized abortion and contraception as "health care" for decades. Coverage of each is mandated under the new federal "health care" law. Abortion clinics all over the country use "women's health" and "health care" in their names.
What Buck said and what he meant are perfectly clear in the absence of dishonest messengers who assume low information and vulnerability on the listener's part.
Hit "reset" before this campaign proceeds. Stop stupefying the audience by dumbing down and distorting honest political exchange. We should value thoughtful statements above the surplus of safe political platitudes that teach us nothing.