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The contraception kerfluffle

I've been watching the debate over the contraception provisions in the ACA with a horrified fascination. Denys will attest to the fact that last week I got pretty livid watching liberal Lawrence O'Donnell and Mark Shields attack the administration for trying to make institutions that were affiliated with religions but were not strictly religious institutions themselves cover their employees' contraception. The very next day the President announced the new policy that would make insurance companies cover the cost of contraception when employers exempted themselves for religious reasons. The political blogs I read, like Balloon Juice and Booman Tribune, saw this as very fine political jujitsu, and most high level reproductive rights organizations, like Planned Parenthood and NARAL seemed to agree. The Seattle Times, however, ran a headline describing the President as backing down. The Catholic bishops and Republicans continue to scream bloody murder, which seemed to indicate they thought they could still make political hay from the issue.

One argument I've seen for why conservatives are still jumping up and down on this one is that they are trying to push Romney to the right on the issue. I still tend to agree with those who say that this will be a Pyrrhic victory if they succeed. But however it plays out in the general election, I'm still appalled at where some Catholic male liberals came down on this. I mean, et tu, E.J. Dionne? Joan Walsh, whom I typically find pretty uninteresting as an op-ed columnist, has a column up today about Catholic tribalism that's worth a look in which she points out that men dominated the debate on the cable shows.

I guess part of what's interesting about this is that the line of analysis that says this was a good move on the President's part is that women, and particularly single women, are an extremely important part of his coalition. Yet all these yapping men are sure that he's shot himself in the foot with this move. And others, like Charles Pierce, think he caved. How is it a cave when contraception will be covered for all women? Because he didn't kick the bishops in the teeth and say, no, you WILL pay?! I keep going back to mistermix's post at Balloon Juice: This Is How It Feels to Win. This is good policy and good politics. I am confounded that anybody who isn't an anti-contraception conservative fails to recognize it. Why are any liberals still yapping their trap on the topic? I really don't get it.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
daveon
Feb. 13th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
Yes, I think this is a definitive win, and, I would like to think it was planned from day one as such. The GOP is in a nasty internal fight for the nomination, the wind is, for the time being, out of the economic argument, so this was a low ball to them which they scrambled for, and then found themselves stuck with.

You just have to look at the actual numbers of women who use/have used contraception (especially the catholic numbers) to see that Social Male Conservatives can scream all they like but they're on the wrong side to make any real political capital out of it.

If Planned Parenthood think it's an ok compromise AND Catholic Healthcare organizations, then it's a win.

Next up, a budget with tax increases for the rich... I am looking forward to watching the veins throbbing in certain foreheads.

There was some interesting commentary at the weekend in some quarters which is if you assume that Obama can carry the bulk of the Kerry States then he doesn't need very many others to win the election - if you then look at the polls in Ohio and Michigan, then the route for any republican to the White House is really, really tricky.

We'll see. I was thinking this could be close before Christmas, but I don't see how the GOP can keep this up to August and actually have anything left.
randy_byers
Feb. 13th, 2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
I'll go along with the conventional wisdom that if unemployment continues to drop, Obama is a shoo-in. But the plan all along, in case the economy continued to be bad, was to play up social wedge issues, and this seems to be a prime example of the strategy. More, please!

Edited at 2012-02-13 06:30 pm (UTC)
daveon
Feb. 13th, 2012 07:42 pm (UTC)
I suspect that some sane heads in the party probably including John Boehner and Romney know damn well that playing the social conservative card is not going to be a good hand come September.

If the economy continues to improve, and they continue to have dreadful numbers in the mid-West, then there's really very little they can do to carry the election.

The interesting question is what they do as a collective if they pick Santorum and he loses.
randy_byers
Feb. 13th, 2012 08:45 pm (UTC)
I still have a hard time believing that Santorum has much of a chance to gain the nomination, but it certainly is entertaining watching Romney sweat bullets.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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