WASHINGTON – It was done ugly. But let’s not miss this moment.
Let’s also not be seduced into believing Pres. Obama did something he did not. He didn’t force anything on religious institutions or on “all Americans”, as has been claimed on cable, as well as the Wall Street Journal.
Let’s also not forget that the 1st Amendment swings both ways and that individuals are as protected from religion as institutions are from the government, something that is getting lost in all this. Considering one of the primary reasons the New Americans fled England, this is rather stunning. As an Episcopalian who now practices daily meditation as my primary mode of spiritual connection, the dishonesty being used when citing the 1st Amendment during this discussion has been as telling as the purposeful misinformation.
The furor forced the White House to make a final move Friday, with Pres. Obama starring.
It was insanity, except that Pres. Obama walked into battle with the majority of Americans behind him, including 99% of adult women who rely on birth control in their lives, including for serious medicinal purposes. It was a moment of promise reminiscent of how Obama came into the White House, except this time the media was tearing him apart instead of propping him up. A moment when Obama’s die hard supporters could say, this is the guy I voted for; when people could believe again, if only for a moment.
I’m not one of those people, never have been.
I’ve written innumerable columns about Pres. Obama’s continual inability to find a purpose or policy compass, while channeling Bush on foreign policy decisions and terror policy, over which progressives give him a pass. And one can only imagine if Pres. Obama would have understood the amount of energy and people power behind him when the health care debate began. These issues are real and troubling, with the cumulative compromise and capitulation to the right, including economically, remaining an irreconcilable situation.
That, however, doesn’t negate that the cosmos shifted on Friday.
Let’s skip over the flaws in the strong moral position position. Such as the fact that many states already require employers’ health care plans to cover contraception and that all over the United States there are Catholic universities and hospitals that comply.
Or that the bishops have totally failed to convince their own faithful that birth control is a moral evil and now appear to be trying to get the federal government to do the job for them. We’re rising above all that.
The Battle Behind the Fight, by Gail Collins
While everyone talked about the Catholic Church, religion and the 1st Amendment, women inside the Administration, dare I say including Michelle Obama, knew that the women employees of Catholic and other religious institutions needed to have their own 1st Amendment rights protected. If not, it would mean the female employees wouldn’t have the same rights or coverage as other women working at a non-religious institution.
Pres. Obama, the constitutional lawyer, knows the 1st Amendment goes both ways and decided to use a scalpel to manifest policy and an implementation that gave everyone what they wanted. A unicorn materialized, wrote Markos Moulitsas.
Except… If anyone heard Sean Hannity on Friday you were in for the laugh of your life, while seeing this will become the fight of the election, at least until they read the polls or turn to make it all about government intrusion, their only hope. There are consequences for adult behavior, Hannity railed, harping against free, free, free birth control. He was actually parroting the Catholic bishop line, which was rooted in being against, though I can’t believe it’s the 21st century and I’m writing this, women having sex for pleasure. Flashback:
“I don’t want to overstate or understate our level of concern,” said McQuade, the Catholic bishops’ spokesperson. “We consider [birth control] an elective drug. Married women can practice periodic abstinence. Other women can abstain altogether. Not having sex doesn’t make you sick.” – Dana Goldstein (h/t Alternet and Amanda Marcotte)
Not having sex doesn’t make you sick.
This coming from a man representing celibate Catholic bishops who are part of a worldwide organization that was guilty of ignoring, protecting and hiding pedophile priests who sexually preyed on young boys for decades and decades; we’ll leave the nuns for next time.
All of this with a backdrop that featured a Super Bowl ad with Clint Eastwood praising the American car company comeback, which was orchestrated by the Obama administration, causing a furor for days. Karl Rove’s reaction precipitating Eastwood making a statement he wasn’t Obama’s guy. Heaven forbid. Even though bailing out the U.S. auto industry, part of our American heritage, ingenuity and genius, is saving part our national soul.
This isn’t working out like the Republicans expected. Not for Mitt Romney either, who is now stuck with one-upping Rick Santorum who is railing about the guillotine.
Now Sen. Roy Blunt, from my home state of Missouri, the same far right religious pack who brought Rick Santorum a win, has announced legislation to deny women the physical, emotional and economic freedoms Pres. Obama just gave them, to appease what ails the right. Republicans are evidently getting ready to fight 99% of the women in this country, including suburban Republicans and independents who use birth control and want their daughters to grow up with that safety net, too.
They’ve obviously snapped. Who wouldn’t? Beaten by Barack Obama. It’s got to be a bummer.
Obama’s not down, he’s up and he’s just scored the biggest win for American women in a hundred years, ballpark.
Think about it. There’s serious and important history being made here.
For modern women, the stress level is about to be lowered, as are their monthly bills. Think of all the energy and potential to be unleashed. This freedom is personal, emotional and economical, unless Mitt and Rick get the opportunity to repeal free birth control.
Free contraceptive coverage for modern women, regardless of means or status, is what Social Security and other entitlements are for seniors and the poor.
Wait until that sinks in.
Taylor Marsh is the author of the new book, The Hillary Effect – Politics, Sexism and the Destiny of Loss, which is now available in print on Amazon. Marsh is a veteran political analyst and commentator. She has been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her new media blog.