Media Pulls Metaphorical Condom Over GOP

Who needs protection?

To state the obvious, any policy position that causes a candidate to lose more political support than they gain constitutes a politicial liability. For instance, any policy position that causes 23% of Americans to say they’re more likely to support you, while almost twice as many (40%) say they’re less likely to support you is a significant political leg iron in a close election.

Those are the recent findings of a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey of Americans on the issue of the Obama Administration’s policy requiring employees to provide health insurance that covers contraception.

But despite such findings, the news coverage of the issue leads you to believe that it is President Obama, not Republican critics of the policy, who is suffering mightily from the issue. If you search Google News with “Obama contraception controversial,” you get 1,100 stories. The USA Today headline screams “White House to address controversial birth control policy.” Politico says “Obama tries to quell birth control firestorm‎.” The Seattle Post Intelligencer notes “Obama contraceptive mandate has a price.”

It sounds like Obama is getting destroyed on this issue. But the polls suggest his opponents are more endangered.

GOP frontrunner du jour Senator Rick Santorum had this to say about the issue:


“Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

Senator Santorum sounds like he is talking about the most deviant of sexual practices, but he is talking about something that 99% of sexually active American women, and 98% of Catholic women, use or have used. Why aren’t political reporters questioning the political exposure this creates for him and his party?

In GOP caucus echo chambers, maybe this works as a proxy for the claimed “war on religion.” But in the General Election, the polling shows that banning access to contraception constitutes an extremely dangerous politically transmitted disease.

- Loveland

25 Responses

  1. I expect that this issue will resonate particularly with younger women voters, and be a significant boost to Obama’s re-election prospects.

    It really does make the Catholic hierarchy look out of touch–opposing contraception, gay marriage, etc.–is it possible to become any more out of step with younger people?

  2. I totally agree with your reaction to the Santorum quote. but i don’t agree that labelling the issue as a “contraception” issue is correct. that label, of course, excludes sterilization and abortifacients. these are also germane to the exemption that the religious organizations want. excluding them makes the label more politically salable but with grave effect on the label’s accuracy. further, the “contraception” label only really addresses a narrow application of the underlying principle. the principle at risk here is religious feedom, freedom of conscience, or conscientious objection – take your pick. this principle is obviously broader and more important than the single application thereof that is suggested by the “contraception” label. further, if one believes the poll you cite then the administration is righteous to defend their policy and should continue to do so, perhaps even expand their policy to include the compulsory provision of more objectionable services and narrow the existing exemption to include more organization.

  3. Mother Jones on this subject:

    “Institutions with a primarily religious mission are exempted from the law. No doctors will be required to provide birth control. No one who believes that birth control is a sin be required to use it. The law is designed to ensure that access to preventative care is not denied to women who want or need it.

    But let’s deal directly with the “abortive pills and the like” line. What Romney is referring to isn’t an “abortive pill”—it’s Plan B, also known as the Morning After pill. Although anti-abortion groups might claim that the pill is “abortive,” medical science does not back up that claim. Plan B is a heavy dose of the type of hormones in regular-old-birth-control. It is designed to either prevent ovulation or to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus (depending on where the woman is in her menstrual cycle). Medical organizations like the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have clearly affirmed that pregnancy does not begin until a fertilized egg is implanted. Plan B thus cannot be an “abortive pill” as Romney and others claim.”

  4. The Republican candidates make it sound like Obama was in favor of mugging nuns and forcing the pill down their throats. There is already an exemption for churches; what is under discussion are businesses, albeit often non-profits. Catholic hospitals and universities offer services to people of all beliefs, provided to them by people of all beliefs and partly funded by taxpayers of all beliefs. The notion that the tender sensibilities of the bishops trumps all that seems to me insupportable.

    If theology has veto power, there are some further questions: Can the Christian Science Monitor, which I believe is still owned by the church, tell its employees that their health plan will pay for faith healers and nothing else? Or, more generally, can Quakers and Mennonites, as pacifists, refuse to pay that part of their income taxes that go to funding the pentagon?

  5. I desperately want this issue to linger into November.

  6. P.S. Same with the Canadian pipeline.

  7. I assume, Newt, that you want all of these issues to linger thru the general election because you are (secretly) hoping the Obama beats Romney, so that a real conservative (Rubio? BushIII?)will be able to win in 2016, right?

    ;-)

    • I’m three jumps ahead of you.

      P.S. Under this precedent, I also fail to see why the federal government couldn’t compel synagogues to serve pork or mosques to serve alcohol.

      • Newt: are you sure that it’s not Obama who is three steps ahead? Consider that he made this contraception “battle” an issue just as Santorum was starting to surge–i mean, isn’t it tailor made for Santorum? injecting the culture wars back into the CPAC environment just to sabotage Romney, and to extend the nomination battle as long as possible, so that Romney (who really is the inevitable nominee) has to delay his pivot to the center so much/so long that he completely alienates all of the independents, thus ensuring Obama’s re-election in November?

        Seriously, you guys are getting played by a master.

  8. “I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. It already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat.”

    Rick Santorum last night.

    So does the GOP have a women problem? We have the grandson of a polygamist, a serial cheater, and Santorum as the leading candidates (and lets not forget Herman Cain).

  9. Apparently Scalia wrote the definitive opinion that religious believers and institutions are NOT exempt from generally applicable laws, such as this proposed contraception requirement.

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/how-scalia-helped-obama-defend-the-birth-control-rule.php?ref=fpa

    So not only is the opposition to this proposed rule generally unpopular, it is also hysterical. Run with it, Republicans!

    (image of lemmings falling off of a cliff to follow….)

    • That TPM piece makes some broad inferences that may not translate from apple to orange. It’s also willfully blind to the fact that if Scalia ever votes on the current imbroglio it’s safe to predict he’ll rule against HHS and the administration. That should be a no-brainer observation.

      And the thing is, you smarmy apparatchiks might illustrate dozens of weak polls, minor hypocrises, and non-analogous facts in support of this debacle, but that’s not convincing except to the folks in your epistemically closed group. You’re seeing this entirely wrong and I have to imagine you know that.

      • Erik, I have just figured it out–with you, it’s all projection, isn’t it?

        ;-)

        (should have looked at Freud sooner, i know)

      • Meh. You may imagine me as you wish.

        You really think these trivial little bullet points that are passed back and forth among progressives are going to turn this from a loser to winner? It’s incredibly destructive. And a reasonable course of action would be to not write / enforce this mandate. Get rid of it. But liberals just can’t help themselves.

  10. Drats! Breaking news – Obama is caving in. How about those poor sucker Catholic who voted for this rube?

  11. Here, this will solve the problem: there is a bill in Oklahoma that proposes that life begins at ejaculation, and any ejaculation other than into a womens vagina should be illegal:

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/news/regions/americas/united-states/senator-says-life-begins-at-ejaculation

    • Well played, Representative Constance Johnson.

    • Well, the Lord did smite Onan for spilling his seed on the ground, so that much count for something.

      John Lesch’s piece in today’s strib is both smart and well written.

  12. There is another similar story—a female legislator has, in response to proposed legislation requiring all women who are seeking a legal abortion to first get an ultrasound and view it, proposed that all men seeking a prescription for Viagra first get a digital prostate exam as well as a stress test–a real tit for tat approach.

    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2012/01/30/virginia-state-senator-janet-howell-is-an-american-hero

    This is all kind of fun! Love it when legislators finally get creative.

  13. Looks like the odds of an Obama victory in November are getting better–up to 60% at Intrade!

    http://media.talkingpointsmemo.com/slideshow/obama-up-on-intrade?ref=fpblg

    doesn’t look like the contraception flap is hurting him at all.

  14. The red herrings of contraception, abortion and creationism are stinking up the place. The real issue here is the determined belief that as women, we cannot think for ourselves, and therefore need laws or restrictions to think for us. More women need to wake up and smell the discrimination.

    I hope the desperation of the fundamental Christian conservative base (I won’t call them GOP) to wax nostalgic about “the way America used to be” because they don’t have solutions for the real problems facing the country just encourages the majority of the U.S. population – women – to turn out in droves this fall. Enough already.

    And Santorum is an asshead.

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