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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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For the week of April 3 - 9 , 2002

  Opinion Column

Idaho’s pushy right-to-lifers

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Idaho Democrats don’t find much in U.S. Sen. Larry Craig’s politics worth approving. But he deserves a cheer for his refusal to knuckle down to protests of Idaho’s eerie, overbearing right-to-lifers.

Idaho Choose Life imperiously demanded that Craig cancel a fund-raising appearance at the home of Twin Falls attorney John Lezamiz because Lezamiz—get this!—is co-owner of a building in which Planned Parenthood rents office space.

Sen. Craig quickly refused to be pushed around by such nonsense, unlike some of his Republican brethren who seem to wilt when anti-abortionists give them the evil eye. The demand on Craig is an example of the twisted thinking that afflicts the fringe element of the anti-abortion movement—that merely showing up at the home of an attorney who’s the businessman-landlord to Planned Parenthood is tantamount to Craig promoting abortion.

One wonders how far these right-to-lifers will stretch their demands: do they ask their doctors, dentists, bankers, executives of Idaho Power, their waste collectors, mortgage companies, owners of markets where they shop and police who protect them if they donate to Planned Parenthood or support abortion? Would they refuse to do business with anyone donating to Planned Parenthood?

Do they expect elected officials to check with Choose Life for an approved list of where they can hold fund-raisers? The only place where Idaho Choose Life and its leader, David Ripley, would be safe from ever hearing a word about Planned Parenthood is in a dark cave by themselves, where they could mutually admire their purity.


How embarrassing that U.S. Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, stood so very much taller than President George W. Bush after McCain’s—and co-sponsor Sen. Russ Feingold’s—campaign finance reform legislation passed and was signed grudgingly by a resentful, pouting Bush.

Instead of a public bill-signing with Rose Garden or East Room pomp with McCain and Feingold at his side as a tribute to their tenacity (a customary White House ritual with significant legislation), Bush retreated like a childish, petulant sore-loser behind closed doors in the White House to affix his signature with no witnesses other than Vice President Cheney and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, both who’ve been irrelevant to the reform legislation.

But Bush’s moodiness got worse: he had the effrontery to notify McCain of the signing by having an untitled White House flunky telephone McCain. As a final insult to McCain, Bush named a fox to guard the hen house—a man opposed to McCain-Feingold reforms was appointed to the Federal Elections Commission to enforce the campaign finance law.

(The week’s other presidential affront: Bush appointed a man who detests affirmative action to be deputy attorney general in charge of enforcing civil rights.)

Obviously, Bush again dutifully was following the script of his political handlers, Karen Hughes and Karl Rove, who learned their coarse tactics in down-and-dirty small time Texas politics, and who now plan the president’s days, what he says, whom he sees, where he goes.

Their obvious aim was to humiliate McCain by showing the president’s disdain for his 2000 presidential rival, and perhaps snuff out McCain’s national popularity by demeaning him as inconsequential to the presidency.

Sorry. The opposite happened.

McCain rose manfully above the insult with nary a word of resentment; he even magnanimously thanked Bush for signing the legislation. McCain’s POW years of torture by the North Vietnamese endow him with the courage to turn the other cheek without loss of manhood, an adult virtue yet to be acquired by the spiteful president.

Senators and representatives of both parties also will find Bush’s slight of McCain unbecoming to the commander-in-chief.

Bush and his advisers come out of this episode looking like shallow, petty, small-minded, vindictive Bush-league operators lacking the grace and stature of the elegant office they serve.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.