President Obama has decided on Kathleen Sebelius as his pick for HHS Secretary. He's about to get pummeled by pro-life groups. They view the Kansas Governor as way out of the mainstream on abortion. The Obama administration views her as the best person out there to lead HHS and the fight over healthcare. Read below from Reuters and then get my take:
President Barack Obama has decided to nominate Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to head the Department of Health and Human Services and will formally announce the decision at a White House ceremony on Monday, a U.S. official said on Saturday.
"This evening, the president asked Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to serve as his Secretary of Health and Human Services, and she accepted," the administration official said on condition of anonymity. "The president will formally announce the nomination on Monday afternoon at the White House."
Sebelius had been considered a top contender for the position since former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination because of personal income tax issues.
The Daschle withdrawal was a big blow for Obama, who made healthcare reform a key part of his agenda during the election campaign and was relying on the former Democratic leader to guide his agenda through the U.S. Congress.
Sebelius, a longtime Obama supporter who had been mentioned as a contender for other Cabinet posts, is a former Kansas health commissioner and is currently the Democratic governor of the largely Republican state.
I am not going to go through the long list if pro-life complaints against Sebelius. If you want that, click here but let's just say that her relationship with late term abortionist George Tiller is going to come into question.
Here's what you are going to see going forward. This is going to turn into a battle between conservative Evangelicals and more moderate and progressive religious groups. They are going to battle back and forth over Sebelius's record on abortion. Watch for moderate Catholic groups to defend her on some of her moves as Kansas Governor. Watch for pro-lifers to rip her on a bunch of abortion related issues. More on those specific issues Monday.
Look, pro-life groups can make all the fuss in the world but the only way this has legs is if some major pro-life Senators come together and make it an issue. If they come out and paint her as an unsuitable liberal based on her relationship with Tiller and some of her moves on abortion then it can become a distraction. A distraction does not help President Obama. The Obama administration runs the risk here of provoking a fight on abortion which is the last thing they want. Having said that, the Democrats have solid numbers in the Senate to get her through especially because GOP moderates like Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are pro-choice. The danger here is for the Sebelius situation to spiral out of control as it relates to her dealings with late term abortionist George Tiller. The whole thing is a gamble to a degree but she's such a qualified nominee that the abortion issue may simply not be enough to derail her.