Friday, December 8, 2023

Tommy Tuberville's blockade of military promotions ends with a whimper, even after he invented the term "abortion after birth" for a non-existent condition

Tommy Tuberville takes questions from the press (Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has a firm grip on the title of "Dumbest U.S. Senator in modern American History." Now he's making a run at becoming "The Dumbest U.S. Senator of all time." That's pretty much the outcome of Tuberville's months-long blockade of U.S. military promotions over its policies regarding reproductive health care, including abortion and fertility treatment, for female personnel.

For good measure, Tuberville apparently invented an abortion-related condition that does not actually exist here on this particular planet. Now that takes talent, and we will have more on this issue in a moment.)

How dumb was Tuberville's blockade, which put a hold on 450 military promotions since it began in March of this year? It was so dumb that columnist John Archibald called it a "butt fumble," in honor of Tuberville's history as a college football coach -- at Auburn, Ole Miss, Cincinnati, Texas Tech, and assorted other outposts. Here is the headline on Archibald's opinion piece: "Tuberville’s butt fumble proves one thing: He has no business in the Senate." And here is what Archibald, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, had to say on the subject:

By the end of the day Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville looked about as American as he is Alabamian.

Which is to say not much. Not so devoted an American. Not so real an Alabamian. He appeared as he always has: Tubervillian.

Tuberville finally backed off his 10-month blockade of U.S. military promotions Tuesday, not so much because of criticism from reasonable voices on both sides of the aisle, but because it became obvious he was going to lose. That he would continue to be talked about in the same sentence as “idiot” and “dumb,” and he’d have a goose egg to show for it.

I would say Archibald landed some serious punches there -- and Tuberville deserves every one of them. Let's consider the history of "Coach" Tuberville: 

* This is the guy, who in an interview after being (somehow) elected to the Senate proved that he:

(A) Could not name the three branches of U.S. government. (Tuberville said, "The House, the Senate, and the executive; Correct answer: Executive, Legislative, Judicial); and (B) Could not state what America was fighting against in World War II. (Tuberville said, "socialism"; Correct answer: "fascism." Breaking news: Hitler and Mussolini were not socialists; they were fascists, sort of like certain members of Tuberville's Republican Party.

(B) With his block on military promotions, Tuberville added to the sense that he is not fit to serve in any public office, much less the U.S. Senate; the man is in the deep end of the pool, but he has no idea how to swim. Consider:

(1)  Tuberville claimed the military's policy related to abortion required Congressional approval. But this proved to be baseless, as reported by Stars &Stripes in September 2023:

The Defense Department did not need congressional approval to implement a trio of reproductive health care rules earlier this year, including one that allows service members to use federal funds to travel out of state for abortions, a government watchdog agency determined.

The regulations have led to a months-long standoff with Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who continues to block hundreds of senior military appointments and has cited the abortion provisions among his reasons.

Tuberville and his supporters have argued that the rules violate a ban on taxpayer-funded abortion and should have been approved by Congress before coming into effect.

However, a legal review by the Government Accountability Office said that because the policies deal with management and personnel, they are exempt from the Congressional Review Act, which requires government agencies to report major rules to Congress before they’re enacted.

(2) Tuberville griped that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) policy reimbursing personnel for reproductive health care was a violation of post-Roe law on abortion. But Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memorandum on the issue titled "Ensuring Access to Reproductive Health Care." CNN provides details:

Tuberville has said he would hold up Defense Department nominations for flag and general officers until Austin “rescinds or suspends” the new policies, which largely focus on providing support for service members who have to travel out of state for care – including abortions and other non-covered reproductive health care like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI).

In short, Tuberville was griping about an "abortion policy" that, strictly speaking, was not about abortion; it was about providing female personnel with a full range of reproductive health care -- from attempting to begin  pregnancy to choosing to end one -- in the latter category, the pregnancy likely threatens the woman's ;life, health, or future ability to have children.

Officials at Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) estimate that 8 percent of pregnancies involve complications. From the JHM website:

Most pregnancies progress without incident. But approximately 8 percent of all pregnancies involve complications that, if left untreated, may harm the mother or the baby. While some complications relate to health problems that existed before pregnancy, others occur unexpectedly and are unavoidable.

At the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), doctors have a reputation for pioneering work in high-risk pregnancy. From the department's website: 

For the vast majority of women, pregnancy follows a routine course. Some women, however, have medical difficulties related to their health or the health of their baby. These women experience what is called a high-risk pregnancy. . . .

High-risk complications occur in only 6 percent to 8 percent of all pregnancies. These complications can be serious and require special care to ensure the best possible outcome. . . . 

UCSF is a world leader in diagnosing and treating birth defects before delivery. Many of the fetal surgeries and endoscopic fetal interventions in use today were pioneered here. We are also home to one of the nation's finest intensive care nurseries, as well as the only specialized clinic in California dedicated to long-term follow-up care for children with complex birth defects.

As for Tommy Tuberville, The New Republic's Tori Otten has this to say about his latest handiwork, under the headline "Tommy Tuberville Just Proved Again That He's the Stupidest Senator":

Senator Tommy Tuberville on Tuesday finally gave up his blockade on military promotions. All he managed to accomplish in the nearly yearlong effort was to annoy all of his colleagues.

Tuberville has blocked 450 military promotions since March as a part of a one-man protest against the Defense Department’s policy of reimbursing travel costs for service members who have to travel out of state for an abortion. He announced Tuesday that he will allow most of those promotions to go forward now—but will still demand that the people nominated for four-star promotions, of which there are about 10, get roll-call votes on the Senate floor. . . .

The Pentagon has warned repeatedly of the military consequences of the lawmaker’s blockade, with the secretary of the Navy accusing Tuberville of “aiding and abetting” Communist regimes by holding up promotions.

What about that abortion-related condition that Tuberville apparently invented out of thin air? It was so goofy that it drew the attention of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Scarborough, who has a lengthy history as a pro-life Republican, including being elected to four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. From a report on Tuberville's ramblings at The Wrap:

MSNBC’s Morning Joe torched Sen. Tommy Tuberville for spewing misinformation about abortion in America, telling viewers not to “respond to that idiot.” 

The Alabama republican once again justified blocking military promotions by claiming that the Pentagon hasn’t been honest about abortion policy. In an interview, Tuberville is shown saying that he asked what month abortions are permitted, claiming that “They couldn’t tell us whether it was abortion after birth,” which does not exist. (Pentagon officials probably did not respond because they had no idea what he was talking about.)

Co-host Mika Brzezinski said this was an “outlandish reason” for Tuberville to block military promotions, “making us less safe,” as a country.

“Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough chimed in saying “By the way, there is an actual term for abortion after birth. Are you ready? Write this down. It’s called Murder.”

“Abortion after birth is not abortion, it’s murder,” Scarborough continued. “Every time these clowns get backed into a corner, they start lying because they know the American people are against them.”

Brzezinski questioned “how dumb” Tuberville thinks the general public is by spreading misinformation about abortions. “This isn’t like a week-long schtick to get clicks,” the co-host continued. “He’s been blocking military promotions for months, making us legitimately less safe.”

“I feel like these stupid comments he makes is just to try and trigger us,” Brzezinski said. “I would say to women and men out there, don’t get triggered, vote.”

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