Tuesday, February 7, 2012

De-mandating contraception?

So if (per PRRI's latest survey) a majority of Catholics favor the HHS mandate that all employers offer contraception coverage, and even favor it a bit more than the rest of the American population, how come David Axelrod descended from his Chicago mountaintop this a.m. to announce that the Obama Administration--still located in Washington last time I checked--is interested in working out a compromise on the contraception mandate? As in:

“I’m less concerned about the messaging of this than to find a resolution that makes sense,” said Axelrod on MSNBC’s “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,” he added.

The answer is that if you look closely, there's a key voting bloc that's not so happy with requiring religiously affiliated colleges and hospitals to provide contraception coverage. That would be white Catholics, to the tune of 58 percent opposed. Politically, they are the most closely divided religious grouping in America. In 2008, they constituted 19 percent of the electorate and voted for John McCain over Barack Obama 52 percent to 47 percent. In the critical swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, they are a critical swing constituency, representing 20 percent, 29 percent, and 19 percent of the electorate respectively. Lose 10 percent of them to contraception coverage and you could lose the election. 

I've never been persuaded that the inner circle of Obama advisers sets a high priority on respecting the prerogatives of religious institutions in general, and Catholic ones in particular. If they did, they wouldn't have used this issue to show how much they love the liberal base. And now that they've royally pissed off the bishops, it's going to be a lot more costly to work out an acceptable compromise with His Imminent Eminence Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and current president of the USCCB. We seem to be approaching the Administration's Komen Moment, in reverse.

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