To the surprise of no one, New York Times and reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg was disingenuous in a Thursday story accusing culture-war obsessed Republicans of endangering America’s health during the pandemic: “Biden’s Top Health Posts Remain Empty as G.O.P. Focuses on Culture Wars,”
It’s clear The Times considers free expression, abortion, and women’s right to spaces of their own are time-wasting clickbait -- though with the issues of Dr. Seuss, abortion, and transgender activism, it’s invariably Republicans reacting to leftist overreach.
She began by fretting that it was the GOP that were waging in culture wars:
Nearly two months into the Biden administration, in the thick of the worst public health crisis in a century, the Department of Health and Human Services remains largely leaderless, with President Biden’s nominees to run the sprawling agency under concerted attack from Republicans over abortion and gender politics.
Mr. Biden’s top health nominees have been stymied on Capitol Hill, including Xavier Becerra, Mr. Biden’s nominee for health secretary, and Rachel Levine, the nominee for assistant secretary for health, as Republicans target them in an effort to revive the culture wars.
Speaking of reviving culture wars…the adjacent Times story dealt with a culture-war warhorse, the Equal Rights Amendment: “E.R.A Clears Hurdle, but Steep Climb Remains.”
Stolberg continued by stepping up her PR campaign for Becerra and Levine (click “expand”):
Conservatives and some Catholic leaders have branded Mr. Becerra, the California attorney general, an unqualified “liberal extremist,” citing his support for abortion rights.
And Dr. Levine, the first openly transgender person nominated to a position that requires Senate approval, was the subject of a tirade by Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who likened sex reassignment surgery to “genital mutilation” and demanded to know whether she supports such procedures for minors.
Democrats are incredulous.
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic,” complained Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware and a close ally of Mr. Biden’s, adding, “To have all these other major cabinet positions --- secretary of education, secretary of transportation, secretary of Treasury -- and not have the secretary of H.H.S. strongly suggests to me that there is more politics than legitimate concern about making progress.”
(Becerra has no medical background, by the way.)
Stolberg bizarrely implied PTDS (Post-Trump Derangement Syndrome) is an actual thing: “Nicole Lurie, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the Obama administration, said permanent leadership has become especially important after President Donald J. Trump, who waged an assault against civil servants, many of whom lost trust that their bosses would back them up -- and have become fearful of making decisions.”
Republicans did their usual seizing (as Stolberg seized on a previous story she wrote in late February to help fill this one) (click “expand”):
Detractors have seized on a 2017 speech that Dr. Levine gave describing hormone therapy as a standard of care for transgender youth, and also on a Twitter post she made in January 2020 about a study showing that transgender youth with access to puberty blocking drugs are at decreased risk of suicide.
After the hearing, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, denounced Republicans for “their attacks on trans people,” which he called, “just mean, mean and show a complete lack of understanding, a complete lack of empathy.”….
Opposition to Mr. Becerra centers on abortion and birth control. Republicans have seized on a suit he brought against the Trump administration to block it from expanding religious exemptions for employers that did not want to provide contraceptive coverage through their insurance plans. The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic organization, later joined the suit.
In any case, Becerra was confirmed by the Senate, with a single Republican vote. Stolberg marked the Thursday afternoon vote by equating abortion with “women's health": “He has also been vocal in the Democratic Party about fighting for women’s health, including access to contraceptives and abortion.”
The pro-Democratic theme -- that Republicans were wasting time in a health crisis on silly culture wars -- was picked up by Lisa Lerer in a snarky March 13 story, “Will Republicans Pay a Price for Opposing the Stimulus?”
Down in paragraph ten, Lerer constructed a rather lazy strawman: “Others seemed far more focused on Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head, culture war bait that fires up their conservative base[.]”