Thursday, February 9, 2012

Who Got Obama to Wear the Black Hat?

White House spokesperson, David Axelrod
On Tuesday White House spokesperson David Axelrod said that the Obama Administration was looking for some sort of a compromise that would ease the tension between the Administration and the Catholic community over Church institutions being required to provide employee insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients.  Mr. Axelrod said on MSNBC program, “Morning Joe”
I heard earlier Joe [Scarborough] say, ‘Well, there may be compromises that can be reached.’ We have great respect for the work that these religious institutions do. …We certainly don’t want to abridge anyone’s religious freedoms, so we’re going to look for a way to move forward that both provides women with the preventive care that they need and respects the prerogatives of religious institutions.”  
      I don’t think the administration gets it.  Compromise isn’t what is needed.  Backing off from forcing people to do something that their religion believes is immoral is what is needed.  Don’t require by law for religious groups to violate their tenets.  I don’t think that Muslim women should be forbidden to wear the hijab or a yeshiva required to serve pork barbeque to its gentile employees.  I don’t think a Baptist seminary needs to have a bar or a juke box and I don’t think non-believers should be required to start the day with prayer just because their employer is “born-again.” Why should Catholic institutions have to pay for services that they believe are contrary to their religious faith?   I am not talking about individual Catholic employers—we are considering institutions run by the Catholic Church.  Ya’ might as well force the Salt Lake City Council of the Twelve Apostles to drink espresso.  
     The Catholic Church didn’t start this pissing contest and whoever advised President Obama to get into it must have been a double agent from The Karl Rove Academy for Vile Politics. What a gift to the Republicans this has been!  Now Speaker Boehner is getting into the act and using this as another hammer to beat up on the President.  Boehner and the Republicans will be the heroes and pass laws that will grant the Church protection from the harm that the President should never have exposed us to.  Good for Catholics; great for the Republicans.  What was Obama thinking of?  What motivated one of the brightest and most savvy men to live under that sometimes distinguished White House roof to do something so stupid in an election year?  (I looked in my thesaurus for a synonym for “stupid” but after considering several alternatives I thought that the plain unvarnished truth is best.  Nothing says it better than “stupid.” “Ill-advised”, “imprudent”, “injudicious”, what have you—just puts lipstick on the pig as the President used to say.  So we stick with “stupid.”)  I honestly don’t see how at this point the President can make this situation work for him.  The various foes of the Church—led by our friends at Planned Parenthood—are insisting that the President not back down to those horrible, nasty, Catholic bishops.  “This is,” they claim, “one more example of how the patriarchy of the Catholic Church tries to keep women from exercising full rights as human persons in our modern world.”  Any backing off from the mandate will inflame those whose political dream is to drive the Catholic Church from the public square and stuff it into the dust closet of “whatever you do in your private-life…”  “Wouldn’t it be nice if the Church just went away?”   On the other hand, to stay on this course of requiring Catholic institutions to violate their tenets on what Catholics perceive to be the sacredness of life is driving hundreds of thousands of liberal Catholics from the Obama (and Democratic) fold.  Maybe the President doesn’t need Catholics for his re-election.  (He did get 54% of the Catholic vote in 2008—a pretty good percentage.) He might think he is safe without us Catholics behind him.  Right now, the election looks better for him than it has in a long time.  The economy is showing signs that his policy of patient reorganization is bearing fruit.  The Republicans are split between a candidate who is too liberal for the base and three candidates who are two crazy for the nation. But November is a long way off and much could change for the President’s fortunes.  The President may find that he has painted himself into a corner and someday may want those Catholic votes.  He had mine in 2008.  It looks like he won’t in 2012.    But that’s ok,  Planned Parenthood has assured him that there are more women voters than Catholic bishops.  I suppose there are, but there is something wrong with that apples and oranges equation. 

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