To say that the Religious Right has been opposed to the prospect of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius might be named as Secretary of Health and Human Services since her name was first floated a few weeks back would be something of an understatement.
Back in early February, Concerned Women for America, Operation Rescue, and the Christian Defense Coalition are already on record opposing the nomination and now that the announcement is official, they are ramping up their opposition and being joined by groups like the Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, the Susan B. Anthony list, the Catholic League and Americans United for Life and others.
As Ezra Klein explained, their opposition is rooted in Sebelius’ purported “ties” to George Tiller:
George Tiller is, in the words of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, a “late-term abortionist.” Closing his clinic has been a main goal of of the Operation Rescue folks. In 1993, in fact, Tiller was shot twice by an anti-abortion activist who’d decided picketing was inefficient.
So what does this have to do with Sebelius? She’s met him.
Worse than that: She’s had him over for dinner. As the Concerned Women for America wrote, Sebelius “held a private party in the governor’s mansion for notorious abortionist George Tiller.” That, of course, is the sort of detail that can matter amidst nomination fights. Maybe Sebelius could be blocked.
But this fell apart rather quickly: Tiller and his staff won the evening in a fundraising auction. Nothing personal, but their invitation was, well, nothing personal.
Nonetheless, it is obvious that the Right is going to attempt to make a spectacle out of Sebelius’s nomination, but that doesn’t look like it will be easy considering that both of Kansas’s Republican Senators, including the ardently anti-choice Sam Brownback, are supporting her:
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts and U.S. Senator Sam Brownback today congratulated Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius on her nomination by President Obama to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“Congratulations to Governor Sebelius on being nominated to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services,” the Senators said. “It’s an honor for the State of Kansas to have an elected official appointed to the president’s cabinet. We are hopeful Governor Sebelius will be a voice for Kansas and rural America at the Department. We look forward to working with her on issues important to the state including a National Cancer Institute Designation at the University of Kansas Cancer Center.”