The irony of David Daleiden's indictment is thicker than the skulls of the Republicans who were suckered by the content of his phony videos. Not only was the anti-choice zealot from the Center for Medical Progress responsible for a series of deceptively-edited Planned Parenthood videos indicted as the result of a GOP-led investigation launched by extremist Texas governor Greg Abbott, but Daleiden was partly indicted for attempting to illegally purchase fetal body parts -- the very thing he was plotting to expose in the first place.
It's a victory for more than just Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights in a climate where victories are scant. It's a victory for reality in a world where the Republican Party is increasingly ensconced in fantasy land.
The problem for the Republicans is the same as it's been from the day the videos first dropped. They've permanently grappled their reputations onto a series of obvious fabrications in spite of the fact that the videos were almost immediately debunked as frauds by nonpartisan fact-checkers. Following suit, now 12 state-level investigations, including many by red state governors, have completely exonerated Planned Parenthood from any wrongdoing including the false allegations in the videos.
There's never been a more obvious illustration of confirmation bias than the GOP's knee-jerk support for Daleiden's big ruse. They needed the videos to be real in order to perpetuate this absurd lie about Planned Parenthood, that a chain of clinics which engages mostly in non-abortion related services is actively engaged in a holocaust against the unborn -- coercing naive pregnant women into their clever abortion factories where patients are forced to undergo grisly procedures more closely associated with Rob Zombie movies. From there, the lie feeds popular support for legislation to crush Planned Parenthood at both the state and federal levels. At the end of the day, the Republicans have based an entire anti-choice movement on a work of fiction.
And yet they can't quit the lie, even if they wanted to. Several of the second-tier Republican candidates for president weighed in on the indictment of Daleiden and, without flinching, stuck to their original lies.
Carly Fiorina said to radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt:
“Yes, well, this is why it’s a fight for the character of our nation. We know for a fact that because of Planned Parenthood’s own announcement that they would no longer accept payments for what they call ‘fetal tissue,’ and they were in fact trafficking in baby body parts. So guess what? I’m not going to sit down and be quiet as I said at the March for Life. I will not sit down and be quiet, I know the value of life, we know what’s going on, and I will continue to stand for the character of this nation,” she said.
“Here’s what I know: Planned Parenthood has been trafficking in body parts. Planned Parenthood has been altering late-term abortion techniques to this specific purpose of harvesting body parts. In President Fiorina budget, there will not be a single dime for Planned Parenthood.”
Bitter clingin' proud clingers indeed. Not even a confession by and conviction of Daleiden would shake the lie from Fiorina's talon-like grasp. To be clear, Planned Parenthood pledged to no longer be compensated for expenses when transporting fetal tissue to medical labs for research into cures for Parkison's and Alzheimer's. To accuse Fiorina of being disingenuous is an insult to disingenuous people. She's outright lying and she knows it. But it polls well among the overzealous GOP base, so she's clinging to this provable series of falsehoods.
Meanwhile, Marco Rubio noted the irony of the whole thing, though he failed to see the humor in the turnabout.
“I’m disturbed. We’ll need to learn more, but I’m disturbed that while Planned Parenthood, who are the ones that were actually selling off these (body) parts were found having done nothing wrong, the people who tried to expose them are the ones that are now facing criminal charges,” he said.
It can't be that Daleiden and the others illegally smeared Planned Parenthood in an elaborate hoax. It has to be that there's a miscarriage of justice. In fact, the Alex Jones InfoWars people are already claiming the grand jury was rigged as part of a circuitous plot to continue the so-called genocide. We can expect the mainstream GOP to follow Jones' lead very soon.
Elsewhere, Ben Carson upped his rhetoric against Planned Parenthood. Via spokesman Larry Ross, Carson vowed to prosecute Planned Parenthood for crimes that eight states and Health & Human Services failed to prove in any way.
“He is equally shocked that they instead decided to indict the individuals that exposed Planned Parenthood’s heinous and illegal activities,” Ross wrote in an email. “As President, he will use the full weight of his office to not only cut off all federal funding for this organization, but also prosecute them for crimes against the unborn.”
We have to seriously question whether Carson's alleged "crimes against the unborn" were committed by the pregnant women who voluntarily visited Planned Parenthood and chose to have a safe, legal abortion. If the clinics are guilty, aren't the women who chose to terminate their pregnancies? This is a seldom discussed prong of the GOP's strategy: criminalizing women who have abortions. Someone should ask Dr. Carson what the penalty would be. In fact, someone should ask "libertarian" Rand Paul whose fetal personhood laws would have the same punitive impact on women.
And finally, here's Mike Huckabee with his predictably hyperbolic reaction:
Um. One third of the federal government is actively trying to de-fund and destroy Planned Parenthood, along with half of the states. That's hardly a matter of a government accommodation for the clinics. While we're here, I'm still waiting for just one -- one! -- investigation to prove the claims made by Daleiden. Of course, it'll never happen for obvious reasons, and it doesn't really need to. As long as there are true-believers who desperately want the videos to be true, there doesn't need to be an authoritative verification of Daleiden's twisted content.
And that's the nation we've inherited. One of the two major political parties has built its shoddy platform on a superstructure of lies. The bubble is stronger than ever, and not even a conviction of Daleiden as the end result of a GOP probe will disrupt the integrity of the epistemic closure surrounding the conservative right.