February 7, 2012

After her resignation earlier today, Karen Handel gave Megyn Kelly her first interview. I'm amazed she waited three hours before dishing before the hungry hordes of right-wing viewers, but she did.

Without transcribing the whole thing right now, I'll give you the high level overview. Handel claims the Komen Foundation was 'desperately trying to move to neutral ground' on the Planned Parenthood issue after being under pressure by right-wing groups for years. In her world, there was absolutely nothing political about the decision to pursue a strategy of finding an excuse to withdraw future grant approvals due to ongoing investigations, political or otherwise. She claims that this was an issue before she arrived and she was assigned the task of finding a strategy to deal with it.

As for the resignation, she did it because the outcry was focused on her, so she "took one for the team." This is also why, according to Handel, she refused severance pay. After all, she said, "Komen is a non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of breast cancer awareness, detection and treatment," leaving the suggestion that she was taking the high road and allowing them to use all of their funds for that mission.

Of course, she failed to acknowledge that with a severance package, she also wouldn't be at liberty to appear on Megyn's show.

After watching this interview, I'm inclined to think Ilyse Hogue has the right analysis of Handel's actions.

The way that this entire saga unfolded points to the work of a political master. While I have no love lost for the Susan G. Komen foundation, if I were their board, I would be angry and sheepish about having my organization used as a political stepping stone and then left as collateral damage for an ambitious self-serving culture crusader. Make no mistake: we’ve not heard the last of Karen Handel. And when she surfaces to tell her story, people should remember: she’s not the victim, she’s a sophisticated political operator who may have gotten exactly what she wants.

Compare and contrast Handel's tone and attitude with Cecile Richards from Planned Parenthood:

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Tell me. Who is bullying who? Also, Mother Jones has a great piece refuting Handel's oft-repeated comments about Komen being a "private foundation" which is entitled to do and fund what it pleases. Here's an excerpt:

But my point isn't about who's a Republican and who's a Democrat. The point is that Komen is a giant grant-making operation (nearly $2 billion since 1982) that purports to represent all of womanhood and it's being run as if it were still a small family foundation. Brinker and son, Custard, and O'Neill all run in the same circles, sit on the same boards, send their kids to the same elite schools. Komen's board makes a nod to race (both Lauderback and Leffal are African-American), a nod to medicine, and a nod to someone with pull in DNC circles, but the core is a group of rich, Texan, conservative friends.

Yes, and let's not forget that it also represents a huge bloc of tax-deductible, tax-exempt dollars which necessarily remove it from the universe of "do what they want" philanthropic groups into the "act into the public interest" philanthropic group. Like it or not, Planned Parenthood's mission is to provide no-cost, low-cost services to women in need. That means the gamut of services, not just those cherry-picked to satisfy political ideologies. And now, the Komen foundation will need to deal with these same questions if it has any hope of recovering any form of public support.

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