James Vicini, "U.S. Catholic bishops oppose Obama birth-control plan". February 11
DEAR Amanda: I can't say I wish I shared your sunny outlook, because I don't; this President fighting his way out of a corner he painted himself into would be news, but only because he's rarely, if ever done so. Maybe if I had some rooting interest. Maybe if he'd given me much reason to root for him.
Rather than, of course, against his abhorrent opponents.
The fun part of this is that Obama just pulled a fast one on Republicans. He drew this out for two weeks, letting Republicans work themselves into a frenzy of anti-contraception rhetoric, all thinly disguised as concern for religious liberty, and then created a compromise that addressed their purported concerns but without actually reducing women's access to contraception, which is what this has always been about. (As Dana Goldstein reported in 2010, before the religious liberty gambit was brought up, the Catholic bishops were just demanding that women be denied access and told to abstain from sex instead.) With the fig leaf of religious liberty removed, Republicans are in a bad situation. They can either drop this and slink away knowing they've been punked, or they can double down. But in order to do so, they'll have to be more blatantly anti-contraception, a politically toxic move in a country where 99% of women have used contraception.
If rationality trumped irrationality in this country, Liberia and Burma would be the only two countries on earth that haven't adopted the metric system.
When this stops going double for people who insist they talk to dead carpenters, lemme know. Meanwhile, here's what the U.S. Conference of Bishops had to say:
…Obama's proposal "continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions."…
The bishops said the compromise failed to provide "clear protection" for many employers who might oppose birth control personally but not be classified as a religious institution, and thus ineligible to seek exemption from the federal mandate to provide free contraception as part of every insurance package.
So, forgive me if I'm not overwhelmed if all the intellectual and political willpower of the Obama administration/campaign managed to come up with a Plan B.
Because I've been hearing this since I had the audacity to vote for George McGovern in 1972, sending the Democratic party into a tailspin it's still apologizing for. That was less than a month after Roe was argued for the second time. In the intervening forty years public opinion has been significantly swayed by squishy, religious-based, religious-inspired, and religion-funded arguments, such that today we are at loggerheads, where then it was a matter of a mouthy minority pushing to enshrine its Bronze Age beliefs. One big reason for that drift is that the attitude was allowed to develop in a vacuum, because the Democratic party has run screaming from defending it ever since. (Ditto Acid and Amnesty.)
So, forgive me, but Scoring Rhetorical Points on the Republican Party may be great for Obama's reelection campaign, which may or may not be good news for the battle over the composition of the Court. Otherwise, maybe it's time to look at what defending the fucking Constitution might do for Democratic chances, not just in 2012, but into the future. The President of the United States finessed the showboating Bishops and the corrupt intellectual sluggards of the opposition party? Now they have to make a different defense of what is actually the indefensible? Whoopee.