Really hard to see the Administration’s political end-game or the calculation behind the HHS mandate.
My first thought is, “Wow, that was dumb.”
They clearly did not believe crazy uncle Joe and the other prominent, experienced-in-Church-politics male Catholic in the room when they said this would be a bridge too far: Catholics would not stand for it. Not even the majority of the less-committed ones. (The Catholycs? well, there’s no accounting for them.)
Obama reportedly called Archbishop Dolan the morning the mandate and one-year “grace period,” so to speak, were declared to tell him about the decision. Obama apparently offered the one-year leeway “to come into compliance” as though it were a generous extension. The cardinal-elect reportedly responded with something like, “Mr. President, it isn’t about compliance. If this is it then we will be in civil disobedience.”
That’s the entirety of the conversation as it was reported to me, but oh to be a fly on the wall of Obama’s internal dialogue at that moment.
Since that time all but a handful of U.S. bishops and administrators in dioceses without an ordinary have issued letters condemning the decision. There hasn’t been unity like this among the U.S. bishops since they were all happy Benedict XVI came over a few years ago.
Many high-profile Catholics who have vociferously supported and defended Obama and Obamacare are turning on him. There likely are enough votes in the Congress to overturn this ruling in some way—which would have to include a large enough number of Democrats in the Senate.
Even non-Catholic Democrats and liberals who are able to recognize a violation of conscience rights when they see one are turning on him.
Yes, there will always be the Nancy Pelosis and Kathleen Sebeliuses—see the comment about Catholycs above.
Rick Santorum has surged, no doubt in part because of this mandate.
A healthy portion of independents would like to see Obamacare repealed, this didn’t hurt that portion.
To sum up, things are going very badly for the president. Very badly.
What’s he to do? Overturn his own decision? He’d suffer the full Komen treatment, rubber hoses and all. He’d lose the last bastion of support he’s got—women who seem to hate that they’ve got a womb.
If he presses on he loses the Catholic vote, more evangelicals, and a larger portion of the independent vote (recognizing that there is overlap in those groups), which means he loses Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, likely Michigan, Missouri… need I go on? That’s the election. It’s a landslide.
So what’s he to do?
He seems to want to split the atom with the power of his mind. There is an election-year-driven hint of a desire to “compromise” (note it’s a campaign mouthpiece saying this, not the Press Secretary at the White House). But then within 24 hours we have a doubling-down on the commitment to the mandate. CBS New York reports:
[The White House] wants to find some way to calm Catholic opposition, but will not back down on the policy, itself.
“I want to be clear today that the commitment to insuring the women have access to these important health care services remains very strong,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
See: trying to split an atom with the power of his mind. They want to calm the opposition that has erupted due to this policy (which amounts to them shouting “ouch, stop that!”), but they are steadfast in their support of the very policy that is repugnant to those erupting in opposition. Not a position that comforts one about your willingness to “compromise.”
It’s like saying, “I want to have a happy marriage, but I absolutely refuse to stop beating my wife.”
The only thing they can do is try to string along the possibility that they will grant another extension, perhaps a few waivers, and maybe they’ll think about a full repeal of the rule some time after the election, in the hopes that this will appease *enough* Catholics to vote for him. It’s a Faustian bargain, and I think it’s safe to say no one is buying that snake oil any longer (if I may mix metaphors). This is the least-reliable, most anti-life White House in the history of this nation, and this action has laid bare, for those who were not already convinced, of their willingness to trample the peoples’ rights. Any pandering or stringing along carrots of possible repeal is transparently duplicitous.
So Obama, because of his own conceit and terrible political instincts, has placed himself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Either way he cannot win. He is hoist on his own petard. If he backs down he gets the full Komen and marginal electoral gain since his remaining support will be further disheartened and so many who heretofore support him will no longer trust his commitment to Constitutional rights. So he most likely loses the election by sticking to his guns.
If he doesn’t back down he loses the election badly, and likely loses a bunch more seats for his party in what was already shaping up to be a good year for the GOP in the House and Senate.
Either way, the mandate will be overturned before a single hospital or school closes its doors, and Obama will be working on his handicap, which is what he appears to be more comfortable doing anyhow.
Heads we win, tails you lose.