Over forty-five years ago a Senate committee (which included then Senator George Murphy) investigated a claim of insecticide contamination of grapes in California. As it happened, a large bunch of grapes was presented as an exhibit, and, indeed, it was so contaminated that even the senators on the committee were amazed at the dangerously high levels of poison.
Further investigation, however, showed that no existing human practice could have come even close to so thoroughly tainting the grapes under examination, or any grapes on the vine in California, with the chemical in such astonishingly high amounts. In other words, as an article at the time put it and the committee concluded, the grapes were “doctored.”
Last week Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, at a United States House hearing, and without help of a single expert, political or cinematographic, declared that the videos from the Center for Medical Progress—videos that described in sometimes disgusting particularity the procurement and sale of body parts of aborted unborn children—were “doctored.”
The nomenclature is about all these two Congressional hearings from different decades have in common. “Doctored” is what the grapes were beyond any reasonable doubt. Cecile Richards’s claim is another matter.
The case of the videos is notorious enough by now. The CMP in its first effort — a three-hour video, posted on YouTube — showed two actors claiming to be in the business of purchasing body parts, hobnobbing amiably with Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood, about how to obtain livers, intact heads, and various other in-demand items from a baby in the womb.
“I’d say a lot of people want liver,” Nucatola said, between sips of wine, “and for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.”
There’s no doubt that there were large stretches on end in the video that were irrelevant to the issue of Planned Parenthood’s grizzly practices. But the question is, were the videos “doctored” as Cecile Richards would have it?
If I understand the idea correctly, a “doctored” video would be one that either lifted speeches out of context or spliced phrases together to create very different meaning from what Nucatola intended. Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that the CMP actors maneuvered Nucatola into imitating Josef Mengele or into pretending a Planned Parenthood abortion facility was in reality a butcher shop. Then after a little bit of splicing, it might appear that our good servant of humanity was in fact some kind of fiend.
Or let’s suppose Nucatola had quite innocently used the word “liver” here and “forceps” there, without any reference to abortions, and later found the words spliced to yield the sentences presented on the video. The statement would have been in the clearest meaning of the word “doctored.”
But, so far as I can determine, no evidence for real doctoring of Nucatola’s words or their context—or, for that matter the words of other Planned Parenthood functionaries in the CMP’s other videos—has been produced. Was conversation edited? Sure. Who wants to watch Nucatola order lunch or pronounce sagely on the wine list? Frankly, who’s interested in the iridescent chitchat leading up to the real matter: the revelations of body-parts harvesting and selling?
Nevertheless, Cecile Richards pronounced the CMP effort doctored, and the left-leaning media from Vox.com to HuffPo are falling in line. As for the Congressmen at the hearing, they decided not to show pertinent clips from the video, having hamstrung themselves by complying with a California court ruling that prohibited the broadcast in that state. Give Cecile credit for knowing the Republican temperament. The California ruling had no effect in Congress, but the majority wilted, and not one member could offer a strong rebuttal to her “doctoring” claim.
Indeed, Richards ought to know a thing or two about politics. The daughter of former Democrat Governor of Texas Ann Richards, Cecile has held a string of highly partisan political positions: deputy-chief of staff to Nancy Pelosi; founder of the Texas Freedom Network (which has little to do with freedom but a lot to do with combatting Christian conservatives); president of American Votes, a phalanx of Democrat Party organizations; recipient of the $100,000.00 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, given for “socially responsible work.”
“Socially responsible work.” Could it be those associated with The Nation had in mind Planned Parenthood’s role as the largest provider of abortions in the United States and possibly the entire Western world? Must have. Maybe Cecile’s recent charge of “doctoring” calls for another award. After all, for the left, the deaths of millions of the unborn is the essence of public service and politics itself.
As for the rest of us, politics and service mean the defense of liberty and the protection of the innocent, obligations imposed on us by God Himself. But as John Dos Passos said in novel Big Money after the Sacco and Vanzetti verdict, “All right we are two nations.”
So we are in 2015. And as long as Planned Parenthood’s and Cecile Richards’s version of doctoring remains its most notorious and profitable business, it’s just as well we should be two. Irreconcilable. Forever.