I was pretty shocked when I learned that Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) decided to back Governor Kathleen Sebelius’ (D-Kansas) appointment as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. 

Primebuzz/Kansas City Star reports:

After a day of uncertainty, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback said Tuesday he would vote to confirm Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for secretary of Health and Human Services.

“The President won the election and has nominated a Kansan to the cabinet,” Brownback said in a statement. “Despite our profound policy differences, I will support my fellow Kansan.”

This seems unfathomable to do such a thing since this post has much sway on Right-to-Life issues, and she will give a boost to the abortion and stem cell industries in this role.  He is already being accused of “throwing the unborn under the bus.”  Apparently he has a political explanation for his decision according to Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News & World Report:

But two sources tell me that Brownback’s people have been making the case to antiabortion groups—especially those in Kansas—that there’s a strong political rationale for installing the Kansas governor in Washington. The move gets her out of Kansas, Brownback’s argument goes, heading off her expected run for the Senate in 2010. Which means the Sunflower State Senate seat that Brownback’s vacating for a gubernatorial run is likely to stay in Republican hands, since the Kansas Democratic Party doesn’t have another candidate who is half as popular as Sebelius. And that’s good for the antiabortion cause, according to the reasoning.

I suspected that there was likely a pragmatic, political reason for his decision.  But does it really matter?  Does this really advance the pro-life cause?  I’m concerned about the damage that could be done by this appointment.  I am surprised because Senator Brownback has been nothing but solid on pro-life issues that have come up in the Senate.

Update: Kevin Tracy’s defense of Senator Brownback.

2nd Update: Thanks Pundit & Pundette and Lisa Graas for the linkage.

3rd Update: Jill Stanek reported on some fireworks between Senator Brownback and Family Research Council’s Tom McClusky at the Senate Values Action Team Meetings

32 comments
  1. I am very surprised and dissapointed. I have no tolerance for politicians voting against their values for political expedience. He is doing this for one person and one person alone: Sam Brownback. If she's gone, he'll be Governor.

  2. Sam Brownback is about as consistent a conservative as possible. Perhaps he isn't a complete zealot? Good for Kansas.

  3. I'm as excited about this as I am that Sarah Palin just appointed someone who used to work for Planned Parenthood.

  4. I agree with you. I think her being out of there benefits only him. The thing is I believe she was going to get the confirmation without his support, so I'm not even sure it was a politically smart move with his base.

  5. The only thing that is good for Kansas is that Governor Sebelius will be gone.

    I do agree that that he has been pretty consistent – up to this point.

    This move may be better for Kansas, but not better for the nation.

  6. I wasn't thrilled about that either Katie. I wanted to hold off because I didn't know much about the other candidates. One thing you have to understand is that she can only appoint someone that the Judicial Review Committee recommends. Some helpful links to understand what is going on there.

    http://www.conservatives4palin.com/2009/03/gov-

    http://www.conservatives4palin.com/2009/03/gove

    These folks do an excellent job researching Alaska politics and law. It seems the result is more about a flawed process and she picked the best person she could under the circumstances.

  7. Thanks for posting a link back to my podcast! I think he's getting hit rather hard by conservatives for this. Sebelius doesn't advance Obama's any more than if the HHS vacancy was unfilled. I actually don't understand why anybody would want this appointment to tell you the truth.

  8. I agree with your post and your subsequent comments. I appreciate the update and will share it with my readers. This is a shocking and unfortunate rejection of the right to life by a former champion of the cause. Please share with your readers that they need to contact the Senate committee that will be considering the legislation on human embryonic stem cell research . I just posted on the executive order at this link: http://tinyurl.com/bzg2pq That article links to another article with all the contact info for the committee members. You can find information at both the Catholic bishops' site AND the Family Research Council. It's bad science that will potentially HARM patients so it's more than just protecting embryos……..although both issues are important. Thanks for this Brownback update, Shane.

  9. Rather than think about the politics, it seem that this illustrates a serious issue that needs to be prayerfully considered in evangelical circles…That issue is this…Do we engage culture only in a way that places the issue as us versus them? Are issues such as appointments that have the potential to go against our position the places at which to draw a line of division? I wonder whether Christians haven't marginalized our own interests by using worldly means and methods in our advocacy for things that are important to us. I don't have an answer here…mostly just questions

  10. On a positive note out of a Kansas representative, Todd Tiahrt (congressman) issued a statement on Friday saying he is unable to support the appointment of Sebelius. Sadly, he has no say in her confirmation, but it is nice to see one of the federal reps. stay on course!

  11. Sebelius cannot run again in a few years for governor.. Sam makes no sense in affirming this nomination.

    I have said for a long time that GOP “pro-lifers” manipulate us Shane.. this is further proof of it. I guess I get tired of pro-lifers getting duped by the GOP rhetoric.

    I wonder where pro-life Senator McCain stands on the appointment? Have you heard of much pro-life anti-Sebelius sentiment in the senate?

    Time to open our eyes.. we need to deep-six our ideologies and just say no to incumbents and start enacting voter enforced term limits.

    Sad to be a Kansan today..

  12. I don't know Randy. I guess I don't see this as an either/or, but both and. There are some appointments that we just need to let happen, but there have been some very poor appointments that I think we need to respectfully dissent.

    At the same we can't neglect the Great Commission because Jesus is the One who can change hearts.

    Engaging in politics is one way to be salt, but I would agree that we haven't always done it well. I really struggle with this. I mean you know my heart and my heart for lost people. I also want to challenge and engage policies that I think are harmful, but I want to do so in a Christ-like way. I know I haven't always lived up to that. I also know that not all believers have approached it in this manner either.

    We do need to pick our battles though. I think the DOJ appointments are dangerous, and I think this one is as well. I am more concerned with the DOJ appointments.

  13. I'm ok with deep-sixing incumbents to a point – there are some good incumbents who have truly served their constituents well and I'd hate to think who might replace them. But I know we won't get term-limits passed any other way.

    I can't deep-six my ideology though. There are just some people I could never vote for.

  14. Voting ideology will always result in the impossibility of term limits.

    I have decided that the system needs to be fixed and the only way to do it is to vote against the incumbent every time.

    Yet I understand why you don't young Skywalker.. the Emperor has trained you well.. use the force Luke 🙂

  15. Rationale.. or rationalization.. is probably the right word. Sam is becoming a big disappointment.. I have voted for him and Kansas Senator Roberts because of their pro-life rhetoric.

  16. I appreciate your heart for these issues, Shane…and picking our battles is important.. Some of our brothers and sisters approaches, (as well as my own at times) has harmed our cause and our witness. But God is good. May we discern what part we need to play and how.
    Thx!

  17. True enough… this really is a political liability for him with his base… as we can see from the comments in this blog – with a couple who are a part of his constituency.

  18. I had heard the reasons Sen. Brownback was backing Sebelius but I still believe it is wrong for him to back her for any reason.

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