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Smart Bombs: Politics propelled pink slips

Imagine a wife seeking a divorce because somebody who hates her husband accuses him of cheating. She doesn’t pursue the truth. She rebuffs his attempts to meet with her. But she wants to make it clear to everyone else that she isn’t passing judgment and hopes they can remain friends. Oh, and could you kindly refrain from guessing her motives?

That, in a nutshell, is the story the Susan G. Komen for the Cure tried to peddle in explaining its pink-slipping of Planned Parenthood over unproven allegations of misused federal funds to perform abortions. Planned Parenthood uses Komen grants for breast cancer screening.

“We want to maintain a positive relationship with them,” beleaguered Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun said on Wednesday.

If so, wouldn’t the outcome of the investigation matter? Couldn’t consider that, said Aun, because Komen had just developed new guidelines for when it cuts off grants. Under those, all it took was a single investigation by local, state or federal authorities into any matter.

This “tightening of standards” became chum for the politically motivated fishing expedition of U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., who had opened an inquiry into Planned Parenthood last September. Congress had yet to hold a single hearing on the issue, but Stearns could declare victory after simply requesting documents. Call it the Race for a Cure to an association that had bugged anti-abortion groups for years.

After the predictable uproar, Komen reversed itself in one of the most colossal public-relations meltdowns in history. Thirty years of good will torched in a couple of days. Now both sides of the abortion debate are angry with an organization dedicated to battling breast cancer.

The Komen organization is made up of survivors, but it would be a miracle if its leaders can withstand this.

Point of conception. Pro-life activists suggest that Planned Parenthood introduced abortion into the issue of breast cancer, and that it’s the pressure tactics of that organization that forced Susan G. Komen for the Cure to back off its defunding decision. That’s disingenuous on two counts.

First, Atlantic journalist Jeffrey Goldberg says he has three inside-the-foundation sources who say that the new guidelines were drawn up for the express purpose of dumping Planned Parenthood. The Associated Press has a source that concurs, saying long-standing pressure from pro-life groups provided the impetus.

Second, it’s pro-life activists who continually push the unproven belief that abortion raises the risk of breast cancer. Perhaps “hope” is a better term than “belief,” because despite pronouncements from the National Cancer Institute that this connection has yet to be established, activists continue to promote the possibility.

One would think that if this were about cancer, they would be relieved.

Where’s the outrage? I don’t recall the ballot measure that affirmed heterosexual marriages in Washington state. Who actually decided that?

Don’t worry. Be happy. This Mitt Romney comment to CNN on Wednesday drew a lot of attention:

“I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”

So as long as the heart of America becomes very poor or very rich, he won’t have anyone to worry about. Life must be carefree in those countries that don’t have a pesky middle class.

Bad bargain. Spokane Mayor David Condon has decided to forgo participating in the city’s pension plan or accepting his full salary this year. Hope his budgeting acumen is better than his personal finance skills.

But seriously, politicians, take your full pay. Playing politics with this solves nothing. It just makes it more difficult to determine what the paycheck should be.

Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.