On this Monday morning's edition of Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough did his best to carry water for the Catholic Bishops and church leadership that have been actively campaigning against to the Obama administration's decision to make religious institutions across the country start covering birth control for their employees.
I don't know if Scarborough is unaware of the statistics as to just how many Catholics disagree with their church's position or if he's just lying to the audience at MSNBC, but he decided to start arguing with Chuck Todd when he even mentioned the possibility that there is "a little bit of a split on this" among the church's membership. And I find it highly unlikely that Todd didn't know just exactly how big that split is, given his background as a pollster. He's been running the numbers on elections and voter trends since his days at Roll Call and it looked to me as though he knew exactly how large the divide is and just didn't want to argue with the bully Scarborough.
For a little reminder on just how many Catholics don't agree with the leadership, I'll just refer readers back to Blue Texan's post here -- If Obama Administration is 'At War' with the Catholic Church, So Are Most American Catholics.
If Joe Scarborough actually believes that this issue is going to cost Democrats the state of Pennsylvania in the upcoming election, he's completely ignoring the fact that most Catholics aren't practicing and don't believe in the views of their Church's leadership. That's a fact he'd rather ignore here since it doesn't fit in well with his talking point he decided he was going to hammer home for the morning.
I left out the portion of the segment where the Rev. Al Sharpton was trying to argue with Scarborough about his statement where he conflated the Catholic Church and the issue of birth control and the Ground Zero mosque debacle. I would imagine Al had a hard time during that portion of the segment in part because he didn't look like he understood what point Scarborough was trying to make any more than I did, but that didn't stop him from arguing about it with him.
Rough transcript below the fold.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what I would do this week? I would go to Pennsylvania if I were Mitt Romney, and I would talk about nothing but this HHS decision. And it's not about abortion. It is about the federal government over reaching. It's about the federal government getting involved in every part of our life. The federal government trying to get involved in banking. The federal government trying to get overly involved in energy taxes. The federal government trying to get involved in faith and in religion. And I would challenge the media, who I think correctly put a spotlight on what happened down at Ground Zero this past summer, those ugly, ugly pictures, of people trying to stop a religious organization from doing something that they thought was in the best interest of their faith.
And we talked about the First Amendment rights. I would go to Pennsylvania and I would offer the same thing.
This though is a dangerous precedent. Most Americans and most Catholics are going to agree by the end of the debate it's a dangerous precedent and I predict that the President's going to back down in one way or the other.
Chuck Todd, you know I've always said Pennsylvania is fools gold for Republicans. You always hear in August, oh Republicans are going to win Pennsylvania and then they slink away on October 27th going, “We never thought we could win Pennsylvania.” I think this HHS decision, this ruling puts all of those blue collar Catholics in Pennsylvania on the line now. They could vote Republican for the first time in a long time.
TODD: Well, I would look at it, you know, when you say Pennsylvania, I look at it more, when you think also eastern Iowa, think parts of Wisconsin and Michigan don't forget. It's a large Catholic vote in the Midwest itself. But Catholics are more divided on this than I think than we've seen in some of the coverage as well, so this isn't as... you know, it may feel like a smart left-right issue, but Catholics are.... are kind of split on this issue too. So I don't know if it plays...
SCARBOROUGH: You really... Chuck...
TODD: ...as easy for....
SCARBOROUGH: You think Catholics are split on this issue...
TODD: We've seen... I've seen some surveys that there is a little bit of a split on this and usually it has to do with, you know... how active of a Catholic you are, verses cultural Catholics... It's a little... nothing is black and white on this issue number one. And number two, even with inside Catholics, because you have cultural Catholics, you have active Catholics. So, I would just caution on that one. […]
SCARBOROUGH: I certainly know the leaders of the Catholic Church and priests across America yesterday, speaking out, against the federal government imposing these new mandates.