Carly Fiorina had the most memorable moment at the second Republican candidates debate, everyone seems to agree, when she said, of the Planned Parenthood videos, “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” Planned Parenthood, in response, quickly declared that “every part of what she said was false.” Gloria Steinem wrote that it was a “100 percent lie.” George Stephanopolis demanded she retract, saying a fact checker had been through all ten hours of the tapes and found no scene anything like this. And on and on. Just yesterday, Chuck Todd confronted Carly Fiorina on Meet the Press demanding that she admit it was not true.
This strikes me as odd, because when she said that in the debate, I knew immediately which scene she was describing. How can that be so if it is 100 percent untrue? If it is nowhere on the tapes? For that claim to be fair, there would have to be no live foetus, and no brain harvesting. Both were featured in that segment. Fiorina, I admit, did have one detail technically wrong: the voice said they had to keep it “intact” to harvest the brain, not “alive.” But in the situation, the two amounted to the same thing. If the child was not crushed in utero, it was born alive.
Based on comments by Todd and Christopher Wallace, I gather that the claim among pro-lifers that the whole thing is a lie is based on the argument that the baby we see with its legs moving is not the same baby being discussed re brain harvesting. Wow. Big, meaningful difference. But if you read the transcript of what Fiorina actually said, she did not even make this claim. Her “it” may have referred to “the foetus” as a generic entity.
So why this strangely intense insistence that it was all a lie? Indeed, what would it prove or even matter if Fiorina got some detail wrong?
I am reminded of a quote from Shakespeare: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” The “lady,”in this case, being not Fiorina, but all the backers of Planned Parenthood. It's like O.J. Simpson, on the stand, stating that he “absolutely” did not kill his wife. An innocent man would not have thought of that “absolutely” as appropriate or meaningful.
Nor “100 percent,” nor “every part” a lie, nor “nowhere on those tapes.”
They know they have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Their conscience is after them.
It is an odd element of conscience, too, that it tends to crave exposure. Their insistence that Fiorina is lying is, in the end, self-defeating. It is keeping the Planned Parenthood issue in the limelight, and prompting many more people to look at the videos. Fiorina's campaign has even seized the opportunity to feature the relevant parts in a campaign ad.
Eventually, they will have to admit the truth about Planned Parenthood, and about what abortion means. And will find themselves miraculously sleeping better at night.