As my nominee for the “Poster Child” for the “War on Women” I would offer the former HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius as a candidate. True, I’ve not been a great fan of Ms. Sebelius but in the interest of fairness, it seems appropriate to look at her track record to put her tenure at HHS in perspective.
In 1986 Ms. Sebelius won her first of four terms to the Kansas House of Representatives before running for Kansas Insurance Commissioner to which she was elected and held for an eight year period. To her credit in her campaign for Commissioner she declined to accept campaign contributions from any insurance companies.
In 2003 she ran for Governor of Kansas, a position she won and to which she was subsequently re-elected. Then she was tapped by the Obama administration to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services, a position which she held until she resigned last week.
Whether or not we agree with Ms. Sebelius’ philosophy it would be difficult to say that she is not a woman of principle. Although a Roman Catholic, she has consistently held an unwavering pro-abortion stance and has been informed by the Apostolic Signatura, the Holy See’s highest court, that “she should not approach the altar for Holy Communion” because of her support of abortion. She also came under fire by conservative groups for accepting donations from George Tiller, the director of one of only three late term abortion clinics in the country. Tiller was subsequently assassinated.
By general standards it seems that Sebelius conducted herself in a manner that was consistent with the law and ethics. However, an inquiry was made into her possible violation of the Hatch Act when, as HHS Secretary she made a political remark during an official government event – an action that was prohibited under the act. Sebelius found a way around that by reclassifying the meeting from governmental to political and reimbursed the government for the expense it had incurred for her to attend the meeting.
As I said at the beginning, I am not a big fan of the now former Secretary. That is a statement that relates to her policies and not to her as an individual. Frankly, of the many people whom we employ in Washington, I would have to give her one of the better grades for ethics – perhaps a B+/A-. I believe that it is not only possible but essential to separate the individual as a person from her beliefs if we are ever to enter into substantive debate over policy. But with certainty, if we continually engage in a battle over person rather than policy we will prove ourselves to be little more mature than seven year olds engaged in a grand battle of name calling.
To be sure the Obamacare rollout was a disaster. Ms. Sebelius was at the helm when that was implemented. But in the crony environment in which she found herself, I sincerely doubt that the decision to hire the prime contractor, CGI Federal was her choice. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, a school buddy of First Lady Michelle Obama’s happened to be an executive with the firm – which was awarded the contract on a no bid basis.
Attorney General Eric Holder spoke last week about the “shameful way in which he and the president have been treated.” Although there were allegations that he was alluding to the cause of this as “racism,” he clarified that by categorically stating that was not his intent. But can we make the same claim that Sebelius’ resignation was not a result of sexism? Although her proposed successor is also female, perhaps that is for no reason other than to dispel that allegation.
There is no question that Ms. Sebelius was scorned by the president when he gave his speech proclaiming victory at the announcement of the number of Obamacare signups – consigning then Secretary Sebelius to a seat in the front row, rather than a place on the dais. That is unfortunate considering her stalwart defense of both the law and her department’s implementation of it – and, collaterally her boss, Obama.
It is not unusual for the left to place “ideals” above individuals. And if there are some who have to be thrown under the bus in order to achieve the “Nirvana” to which they believe they have found the key, so be it. Ms. Sebelius seems to exhibit some of the marks that are consistent with tire treads from a vehicle that is being driven by President Obama.
The war on women? There probably are some who are victims. And to find out who is responsible, we have no further to look than the Oval Office.