One more thing

One more thing

by digby

...before I drop this subject for the time being. Sarah Posner's excellent postmortem on the contraception controversy raises a hugely important point which I failed to discuss in my earlier posts on this. It's not just about the Bishops and the right --- it's also about the Religious Industrial Complex. You know, the powerful group of allegedly liberal religious scolds as represented by the likes of Melinda Henneberger, Amy Sullivan and various Third Way centrists:

[T]he Democratic pundits and strategists who since John Kerry’s loss in 2004 have been pressing the party to be more “friendly” to religion are declaring victory—and castigating Obama for not heeding their calls to begin with.
Neither Obama nor his surrogates ever publicly defended his administration’s rule on these [constitutional] grounds. And because the ensuing media firestorm over the rule was not just driven by the usual conservative suspects, but by a handful of Democratic and liberal pundits, it took on a different hue. What made it a man-bites-dog story, and subject to the more scintillating horserace coverage the media adores, was that “even progressive Catholics” like E.J. Dionne and Michael Sean Winters were up in arms about it.

Burns Strider, the political strategist who, as an aide to Nancy Pelosi, launched the House Faith Working Group and later advised Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, complained to Politico, “There could have been a more inclusive conversation that included more members of the faith community” over the contraception coverage. He warned, “Electorally speaking, you can’t deny that we’re a nation of faith. In the public sphere, you ignore that at your own peril.” Another, anonymous strategist said, “They [the White House] don’t seem to have their finger on the pulse of the modern religious, Democratic-leaning voters, which is roblematic.”[...]
Time contributing editor Amy Sullivan has been critical of Obama for being “tone deaf” on the contraception issue and castigated liberals for their lack of “gratitude” for the Catholic Health Association’s role in passing health care reform. The CHA’s supposed heroism in the legislative battle would not have been necessary, however, had Democrats like Bart Stupak not insisted on holding up the legislation at the behest of the Bishops in the first place, based on false claims that it required taxpayer funding of abortion coverage. In the wake of this week’s events, though, former Congressman Stupak also complained to Politico, “Why do they [the Obama administration] keep stepping on these land mines? Talk to us—that’s all we’re asking.”
After Obama announced the accommodation Friday, Sullivan tweeted that her book, The Party Faithful, would be helpful for “political institutions in recent firestorms.” In her book, Sullivan argued that Democrats needed to pay more attention to religious and anti-choice voters to win elections, charging that Democratic elites ignored this advice at their peril. One supposedly cautionary tale she related was how damaging it was that then-Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe didn’t recognize megachurch pastor Rick Warren when introduced to him at a social gathering.
President Obama won't be dissing these Very Serious Religious People again anytime soon, that's for sure. And that's bad news for our secular country.

*Here's just one little reminder of what our friend Melinda Henneberger, who was all over the TV this past week, is really about. From 2007:
Yesterday's Wanker of the Day, Melinda Henneberger, has already been well and suitably chastised by other bloggers for being hopelessly wrong about Democrats and abortion. I won't repeat what they said. Instead, I'll focus on a passage that raised a red flag for me:
Over 18 months, I traveled to 20 states listening to women of all ages, races, tax brackets and points of view speak at length on the issues they care about heading into ’08. They convinced me that the conventional wisdom was wrong about the last presidential contest, that Democrats did not lose support among women because “security moms” saw President Bush as the better protector against terrorism. What first-time defectors mentioned most often was abortion.
When columnists talk about public opinion based on people they talked to, it's nearly always bullshit...but there's also something missing here, something missing from the whole piece: what Melinda Henneberger thinks.

So I looked around.

Her bio gives a clue: undergrad at Notre Dame, graduate study at a Catholic university in Belgium. Still, lots of people go to Catholic schools who don't buy the whole ideology.

There's another clue in a 2005 column in which she expresses support for a fictional candidate because he "stands up to the NARAL purity patrol" (and isn't 'purity' a curious word to use, one more commonly used (without irony) by the hardcore anti-choicers).

A pre-election piece from 2004 shows she was singing the same tune back then:
The Democrats are likely to lose the Catholic vote in November—and John Kerry could well lose the election as a result. It’s about abortion, stupid. And “choice,” make no mistake, is killing the Democratic Party.

But still nothing about how she feels about abortion.

Finally, back in the good old days of Terri Schiavo, we get the answer:
If it is above our pay grade to opt to terminate life in the womb—and, for the record, I think it is—then it is also wrong to decide when inconveniently comatose spouses or brutal murderers should be “terminated.’’ Either life and death is up to us or it is not. [emphasis added]
So it turns out that the columnist who thinks the Democrats' pro-choice position is hurting the party, who presents this as objective advice based on empirical observation, who does not mention her own position on the issue, is in fact anti-choice. And the column is doubly wankerrific: it's hopelessly wrong and dishonest.
These are the people who really won a big one. They flexed their muscles and made it very clear to the Democratic Party that these policies are subject to approval from the Religious Industrial Complex and don't ever forget it.

And keep in mind; we're not talking about abortion anymore. We're talking about birth control.