Friday, February 17, 2012

Contraception, a winning Obama strategy

Andrew Sullivan, center right editorialist, points out that the hard core conservatives are making a big political blunder by trying to whip up voter frenzy about the Obama administration's stance on contraception as a part of the health care law.  

At first, I thought that the administration had made a political mistake by mandating that Catholic institutions had to provide full contraceptive, sterilization, and morning after pills to people in their employ as part of their health coverage.  After all, it is part of Catholic teaching that these things are immoral, so why not honor their religious beliefs?  

But, Obama quickly made a compromise that took the Catholic administrations of these institutions off the hook and still allowed women these contraceptive services if they chose.  Sadly, many Catholic leaders, and Evangelicals as well, seem to have kept pounding on the notion that the Obama administration is anti-religion and is trying to impose a dictatorial secular morality on religious institutions.  It seems to me that the hard core culture warriors of the social-issues right wing is in the process of destroying itself, which causes me no grief.  I suspect that they are not persuading anyone to their position and are quite literally "preaching the the choir", (the I-hate-Obama choir, that is).

Most Catholics practice contraception, or at least see no evil in it.  Maybe the bishops don't know this.  But, there seems to be a lot that bishops don't know when it comes to sexual morality. 

Sullivan's point is that perhaps Obama didn't make a political blunder at all, but set out bait that the socially conservative right wing leaped at, and revealed themselves to be dogmatic and scolding compared to the accommodating and compromising Obama.

Not a bad tactic, whether planned or not, as a way to demonstrate to the country that it is the hard core right wing, not Obama, who is dictatorial, uncompromising, and out of touch.  Sullivan's point is that one of Obama's greatest political gifts is his ability to help his political opponents over-reach and self-destruct.  He may have a point.  Of course, if your political opponents are the hard core culture warriors, from either end of the political spectrum, it is not hard to help them over-reach.  Over-reaching is an intrinsic characteristic of extremism.