Bob Marshall, alienating his base.
Well, Del. Bob Marshall is in trouble again. Media outlets across the country are covering the remarks he made at a press conference he held last Thursday about defunding Planned Parenthood:
The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children.
This tidbit was first reported by the student-run Capital News Service, by VCU student Kelsey Radcliffe. I have no idea how many reporters attended that press conference, but the event itself was well-covered in the media, so credit is due to Radcliffe for calling attention to this. (Or, depending on how you look at it, blame should be provided to the reporters or failed to call attention to this, or their editors who chose not to include coverage of that remark.)
Now, I read this quote and I think yup, that’s Bob Marshall. I’ve followed this guy’s ridiculous beliefs for years: I first wrote about him seven years ago. This is entirely consistent with his beliefs. Marshall believes in an Old Testament God, an angry, bearded old man in the sky throwing thunderbolts at those he doesn’t favor. Jesus isn’t really in the picture. Marshall also views pregnancy as a punishment for sex, and sees birth control as a perversion of God’s will that sex equal procreation. So the fact that he said something this stupid isn’t even something I was going to bother to write about, what with the legislature being in session (thus keeping me busy with Richmond Sunlight), being busy building our new house, being sick right now, etc. This kind of shit from Bob Marshall is exactly what he’s been saying for years and years. The voters of the 13th District, repeatedly having been presented with excellent alternatives at the ballot box, have returned him to office by a large margin every time. He won with 63% of the vote in 2001, without opposition in 2003, 55% of the vote in 2005, 58% of the vote in 2007, and 61% of the vote last November. It’s clear that they agree with him, and no number of signatures demanding his resignation will change that.
No, I think the newsworthy bit here is that Marshall is backpedaling, which is a first for him. He’s issued this statement:
A story by Capital News Service regarding my remarks at a recent press conference opposing taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood conveyed the impression that I believe disabled children are a punishment for prior abortions. No one who knows me or my record would imagine that I believe or intended to communicate such an offensive notion. I have devoted a generation of work to defending disabled and unwanted children, and have always maintained that they are special blessings to their parents. Nevertheless, I regret any misimpression my poorly chosen words may have created as to my deep commitment to fighting for these vulnerable children and their families.
Blaming CNS here is shameful. Marshall’s comments—at his own press conference—were very clear.
There is one difference this time around, and I think it provides a clue as to Marshall’s attempt to distance himself from his own remarks: The pro-life crowd is all about mentally retarded babies, especially post-Palin, largely because a supermajority of Downs pregnancies are aborted by the mother. The dominant concept among activist parents of such children is that they’re “angels” (e.g. Band of Angels, Angels with Special Needs, Anna’s Angels, even a sixteenth-century Flemish painting), and angels are precisely the opposite of the religious and logical prerequisites of Marshall’s statement. While Marshall normally pisses off Democrats across the country, in Virginia, and sometimes in his own district, his base—hard-core Republicans—just adore his fringe views. But not this time.
I can’t claim to have the faintest idea whether this is going to impact Marshall at the ballot box in 2011, or what his base is going to make of either his statement or his retraction. But I do think that this is the most serious self-inflicted wound—the only kind Marshall has ever experienced—in his political history.