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Desperate Or Confident?

The proposed federal rule that would force religious hospitals and social service agencies to cover contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations strikes me not only as wrong, but as politically interesting. As a matter of policy, President Obama is well on the far side of the pro-choice spectrum.  He is for the legality of partial birth abortion on demand. It was Obama's good luck that the circumstances of the 2008 election worked to prevent an extended review of Obama's abortion position.  The McCain campaign was more interested in identity politics "hockey mom" posturing than in any domestic policy issue that mattered and in any case the financial crisis sucked up all the political oxygen.  As President, Obama has been patient and prudent in how he has advanced his social liberalism.  When he had an overwhelmingly Congress, Obama spent his political capital on getting Obamacare rather than the Freedom of Choice Act.  He has appointed two young liberal Supreme Justices Court Justices and he only needs a second term and a vacancy among any of the five not-consistently-liberal Justices to make a Supreme Court with a decisive and aggressive liberal majority. 

So why is the Obama administration picking this fight now? In the last few years, when Democrats have latched onto abortion/mandated contraception issues in the course of a heavily contested election, it has been because they were losing.  When Virginia Democrat Creighton Deeds was losing the debate on the economy, taxes, and public sector efficiency to Bob McDonnell, Deeds tried to change the subject to abortion in the hopes that this would help Deeds get elected governor.  In 2010 Martha Coakley was losing the debate over Obamacare to Scott Brown. She tried to change the subject to Scott Brown supporting a conscience exception that would have allowed Catholic hospitals to opt-out of providing emergency contraception to rape victims while referring them to other medical providers.  Deeds and Coakley both lost so it must be said that these strategies failed.  But Deeds and Coakley were losing anyway.  Changing the subject to abortion and contraception was a Hail Mary play.  And as the New England Patriots will tell you, that play usually doesn't work.

So is the Obama administration's mandate that religious hospitals cover contraceptives a desperation play?  I doubt it.  The timing is off.  Deeds and Coakley only tried to switch the subject to abortion/mandated contraception when it was obvious that they were losing to an opponent who had defined himself as within the mainstream of American politics.  If you are Obama, and you want to change the conversation to these issues, you don't announce this policy in February when the media is focused on the Republicans clawing each others eyes out.  I think the Obama people know that this policy announcement is a net negative to his reelection.  I think they announced this mandate because they think it is good policy and because they thought it wouldn't be much of a voting issue in November.  They might be rethinking that second assumption.  I think it shows that they are pretty confident that they will beat any of the current Republican candidates.  It is also just a taste of what we can expect in an Obama second term.          
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Discussions - 3 Comments

It isn't about being a voteing issue in November, it is about making sure it is a voteing issue in February.

If anything it suggests Obama would rather run against Santorum than Romney.

This issue will have no real bearing on the general election. At least I don't think it will.

If you make being pro-life a big issue I think it helps Santorum the most. After all Santorum just "slamed" Romney for: "required all Massachusetts hospitals, including Catholic ones, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims."

So how do you know Obama isn't simply taking general election defendable positions, that happen to be unconservative and troubling to Romney precedent in order to sow disatisfaction with his "conservatism"?

"He said then that he believed 'in his heart of hearts' that receiving these contraceptives – free of charge – trumped employees' religious consciences."

I am pretty sure that post-Griswold Catholics also use contraception, and that providing contraception to rape victims is probably not damning, or on the wrong side of history with a majority of catholics, but I could be wrong.

But....
Santorum just "lit" Romney up.... Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri... states that Romney was certainly supposed to win pre-Iowa, let alone comming out of Florida, and states that Romney won in 2008 (when he lost!)

Santorum says: "Conservatism is alive and well in Missouri and Minnesota,"

Santorum's moto: "Elect the true Conservative"

Is Santorum competent or serious enough to yield such ideological/theological baggage?

What if Romney steps back and says: hold on I can distinguish RomneyCare from ObamaCare, and I can distinguish providing contraceptives to rape victims, from the position taken by the White House.

What is really happening is loose appeals to "Conservatism" are obscuring the ability to make sensible distinctions.

So team Obama is really saying... lets toss softballs to help pick who we run against.

Yet, Rassmussen polls currently show Santorum as being the most likely to beat Obama. Iowa, Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota are meaningful demonstrations from flyover/hearland states. And the way Iowa went down was bad for Santorum momentum short run (but gave him more anti-insider/establishment cred).

Rassmussen says Santorum will beat Obama...but

Obama's campaign against Santorum sounds like this: They were going to run Romney against me...but he was too reasonable because like me he favored forcing catholic hospitals to provide contraception to rape victims...

I also don't think Obama is all that pro-choice. He seems to be part of the legal school that likes being able to say that Abortion is not a constitutional right (it doesn't get strict scrutiny). Obama really wants to catch you overextended so he can move to the center. Justice Keegan was certainly this type. If Santorum brings up Roe, Obama is likely to respond with Gonzales v. Carhart.

Team Obama is confident it can split the republican party and independents over Romney vs. Santorum, and they are also following Ron Paul's 27.2% second place finish in Minnesota.

American views on abortion are split evenly right now - 50/50 and it is a very emotional issue for both sides - just look at the reaction on both sides to the Komen Foundation decision on PP.

I hope Team Obama continues to pick away at religious freedom, abortion and things like government interference in the every day lifes of Americans.

The more Team Obama does that, the more likely I wont' have to worry about what Obama will do in his second term.

The idea that Obama would prefer to face anyone other than Romney is simply a non-starter.

Everything, EVERYTHING is entrain for the coming Summer to be one of urban unrest; everything is prepared for a campaign of class division. Obama is well prepared to run the most wicked reelection effort in our lifetime.

And it all depends on Romney to be the perfect foil for Obama.

If the party foolishly goes with Romney, the party is going to have its doors blown off.

Romney has never even run a campaign where he didn't enjoy financial advantages. But that's not going to be the case in the general, for Obama, though not coming close to the war chest he enjoyed four years ago, will still be able to go dollar to dollar {or rather, greenback to greenback} with Romney.

If the GOP tries to wage the general as a question of competence, then the party will lose badly. The battle must be a collision of narratives. And towards that end Gingrich has made a great head start, rightly damning Obama as "the food stamp president."

Romney is uniquely ill-suited for such a battle.

Romney shouldn't even be in the race..........

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