This is an odd story. The other day, Senator Scott Brown surprised a lot of people on both sides of the aisle by appearing to come out against the House GOP’s drive to defund Planned Parenthood, apparently in keeping with his home state’s political leanings. Many interpreted the move as a potential blow to the House GOP conservatives’ ongoing assault on the organization.
But now it’s suddenly unclear whether Brown in fact does oppose defunding the group. As John McCormack of the Weekly Standard details, Brown’s initial statement actually doesn’t come out and say he’s against the defunding. It’s not quite clear whether he merely opposes defunding “Title X,” which provides family planning for low income Americans and gives a lot of money to Planned Parenthood, or whether he opposes the more aggressive proposal to defund Planned Parenthood completely.
It’s an important distinction, and the Senator may have good reason for fudging his position. If he opposes defunding Planned Parenthood completely, he risks angering conservatives, which is why they are demanding clarification.
I asked Brown spokesman Colin Reed for clarification. He responded:
The statement speaks for itself. Scott Brown is working to minimize the cuts to family planning. We don’t have anything else to add at this point.
I asked for further clarification — does Brown oppose the defunding of just Title X, or Planned Parenthood? I haven’t heard back.
This seems too cute by half. As Ben Smith notes, Brown seems to be trying to have it both ways, by “keeping the faith with Republicans while pleasing his independent Massachusetts constituency.” At some point, you’d think, Brown will have to further clarify his stand and pick one or the other.
UPDATE: Edited for clarity.