Attorney and women’s health advocate Sandra Fluke addressed the Democratic convention on Wednesday, speaking of “two profoundly different futures,” one in which, she asserted, should Mitt Romney be elected, “birth control is controlled by people who will never use it [and] will redefine ‘rape,’” or the reelection of President Obama, “a man who thinks of his daughters, not his delegates.”
Rachel Maddow on MSNBC said that the Democrats had juggled the convention schedule so that Fluke would appear during the 10 p.m. network-news hour. But, amazingly, ABC and CBS did not carry Fluke’s speech live. (NBC was airing previously scheduled NFL football.)
Fluke came to prominence when, as she said this night, “Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception.” During her time as a Georgetown University Law Center student, she worked on issues of domestic violence, and supports requiring insurance plans to cover birth control, for a private mandate for contraception coverage. On Wednesday night, she said, “I’m here because I spoke out, and this November, each of us needs to speak out.”
The ridicule of Fluke has been extensive in certain quarters. On Fox News Wednesday night, Bill O’Reilly boiled Fluke down to someone who “wants us to pay for her birth control.” Later, during Sean Hannity’s Fox hour, loopy pundit Michelle Malkin referred to Fluke as “the true, unhinged face of the Left” who was there “to peddle free birth control.”
Last week, in that misty time of old, when Clint Eastwood conducted a Platonic meditation on the nature of a chair, another odd TV moment occurred. Bill O’Reilly, co-anchoring Fox News coverage of the Republican convention, said jokingly that he was “afraid of balloons,” but then went on to ask rhetorically of his co-anchors, “When Sandra Fluke speaks next week, I wonder what they’re gonna drop from the ceiling?” He continued, “There’s only one reason this woman is speaking … so if you’re gonna drop something… ,” his voice trailed off, leaving the “something” hanging in the air, as it were. Um, was he implying the Democrats would drop contraceptives? You be the judge:
O’Reilly’s co-anchors (John Roberts and James Rosen) picked up on the implication, and sounded a bit taken aback (“Oh, goodness!” said one; “There goes that suggestive O’Reilly again!” said the other).
It’s not unreasonable to think that O’Reilly was suggesting the Dems might, oh, unloose as cascade of birth-control pills on Fluke. I know it doesn’t make sense for the Democrats to make fun of their own speaker in this manner, but in the post-Eastwood era of political humor, anything goes, right?