Spinmeister of the Week (Feb. 27-March 5)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Spinmeister of the Week (Feb. 27-March 5)

On Friday, the Bush administration gave up on trying to pass an anti-abortion amendment at a United Nations conference on women's rights. That amendment, abandoned in the face of solid opposition, stated that references to "reproductive health" in the original U.N. Declaration on Women's Rights (approved in Beijing in 1995) did not affirm a person's right to have an abortion.

When I describe opposition to the U.S. proposal as "solid," please understand that the New York Times and I don't define solid in quite the same way. At the U.N. this week, out of the 130 nation-states who gathered, only one -- The Vatican -- publicly backed the Bush administration's amendment.

This weekly post is all about spin, and spin is precisely what was heard from Ellen Sauerbrey, who headed the U.S. delegation to the women's conference. As the Washington Post reports:
Sauerbrey declared victory as she told reporters Friday that the United States was scrapping the initiative ...

"We have heard from countries that our interpretation (of the Beijing document) is their interpretation," Sauerbrey said. "So the amendment, we recognize, is really redundant, but it has accomplished its goals. We will be withdrawing the amendment and we will be joining consensus today on the declaration."
Other than the Vatican, not a single other country represented at the conference this week would support the Bush administration's position. But somehow we're supposed to believe that a lot of these countries quietly share the same interpretation of the Beijing declaration as the Bushies.

What a resounding victory.

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