Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Komen for the Cure and Other Fiascoes

I'm not sure how many different stories I can make up on this one. Let me ask Mitt.

Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan B. Komen for the Cure, has set a new standard for mishandling a policy position. Her basic tenet seems to be that if what you say causes a backlash, redefine it -- even to the point of reinventing it -- until one works. If it still isn't acceptable, then find a way to do a 180° in such a way that people are unsure if it's really a 180°.

I don't want to restate what should be apparent to everyone who follows the news, but quickly here are the facts:
  • Komen said it was ending support for breast cancer screening at Planned Parenthood.
  • It gave a number of reasons, which evolved, to say the least, over the course of 48 hours.
  • Brinker said, among other things, that hiring a fervent opponent of Planned Parenthood, Karen Handel (former Georgia Secretary of State and failed Republican gubernatorial candidate) to the post of vice president for public policy had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to defund Planned Parenthood.
  • A Huffington Post investigation found that Karen Handel was the "prime instigator of this effort."
  • Today, Karen Handel resigned from her vice-presidential post at Komen, taking (some) responsibility for her part in this debacle.
(Full disclosure: I went to Komen's Facebook page and added my negative response to several posts that attempted to temper the blowback against the Planned Parenthood decision. I also did the same at Yoplait's Facebook page, decrying their support of Komen.)

I applaud the (apparent) success of activists on the Internet for showing once again that appropriate use of social media -- as exemplified by the pushback against SOPA and PIPA -- can be a powerful force for good. I also suggest that we assume that Komen for the Cure has lost all credibility and is not to be trusted. This is an opportunity to hold any non-profit's feet to the fire and smoke out either the hucksters or the originally well-intended that have become so complacent or smug that they forget their original missions. This seems to be the case with Komen:

Only 19% dedicated to research? I'd say more on research and less on pink ribbons.

As we move forward, everybody should keep their eyes on Komen. If they are truly faking their 180°, let's nail 'em, folks, okay?

Romney told me, "Time heals all wounds, and obscures policy positions." I hope he's right.

Update. We likely haven't heard the last of Karen Handel, but this article in The Nation makes it apparent that Komen for the Cure luckily may have. However, given Handel's political style, Komen may yet rue the day, another day, to paraphrase Stephen Colbert.

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