I think the Republicans know they overreached this time with the contraceptive debate and the Blunt Amendment. But being a Republican means never having to say you're sorry. You obfuscate, you reframe the debate into something more favorable to you, you dismiss the concerns of the majority of Americans, but you never, ever say you're sorry.
When David Gregory asks House Majority Leader Eric Cantor whether the Republicans were mistaken to prevent the testimony of Sandra Fluke, he tees up a nice little softball for Cantor to launch into Republican talking points. Of course it wasn't wrong to dismiss Fluke's testimony as irrelevant to the proceedings. Because it wasn't about the women affected by these destructive laws, donchaknow. Who cares about them? This was all about the religious liberty of institutions. Institutions, by the way, that already comply with this mandate in 28 states, the ACA mandate only made it consistent nationally.
But naturally, those are niggly little facts that Cantor doesn't want to address nor would David Gregory actually bring them up to refute these talking points. Moreover, Cantor pulls the "you're part of our tribe" with Gregory and likens the mandate with the outrageous notion that Obama administration would tell Jews how to keep kosher.
Nobody's denying access. No, it's not about that. It is about the administration and the president saying to the Catholic Church that we know what your faith holds and you have to abide by that. It would be like saying to the--those of us in the Jewish faith that, you know, we know what the laws of Kashrut, being kosher means, and we're going to tell you what that means.
Here's the logic fail on the part of the Republicans and the Blunt Amendment's "moral objection" clause: where does it stop? Who is the ultimate decider? What if the CEO of a corporation is a Scandinavian Lutheran who does not want to include coverage for circumcision, but the Board of Directors has a minority percentage of Jews who do? What if the President of the company is a Christian Scientist and wants to eliminate coverage for blood transfusions, but the Chief Operating Officer has a son who is a hemophiliac and wants it covered? Or a head of a company is a Scientologist and believes that psychiatry and psychiatric drugs are a racket and refuses to include that despite the fact that the head of Human Resources and the person who negotiates with the insurance company has been struggling with clinical depression? Who gets the final say in what kind of coverage an employer can have a moral objection to?
Therein lies the problem. Companies and corporations are not corporeal beings. They are non-living fictitious entities. They have no faith, because they are not a person. Not even a Jesuit institution, such as Georgetown University. The university itself holds no faith. Its Board of Directors even includes a Sunni Muslim woman. It employs Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It accepts non-Catholics as students. Those students pay a significant tuition for the prestige of attending the law school, and even pay their share of premiums for health insurance. All that was asked was that the coverage include a full range of women's health needs. Not for taxpayers to subsidize it. And then in turn, the individual women could follow the tenets of their own faith as they saw fit and either make use of the coverage or not.
Strategically, I don't know how even this little spin helps the Republicans. "Religious liberty" may sound impressive and a high-minded philosophical argument, but Americans know what the real world application and consequences would mean to them. When 99 percent of American women of child-bearing age use contraception for responsible family planning at one time or another, and you threaten their access to it under the guise that some fictitious entity's "faith" supersedes their own, you've got a pretty hard sell that this isn't a War on Women.
So let's hope that the GOP continues this game right on to November.
Transcript below the fold
MR. GREGORY: Did the House make a mistake by not having Sandra Fluke testify in the first place at, at a, at a hearing that the first panel dominated by men on this issue of the HHS ruling and contraception being covered by insurance? Do you think House make a mistake initially giving some power to this issue?
REP. CANTOR: David, this issue is about religious freedom. I mean, think about it. It is the Obama administration and the president telling the Catholic Church what the Catholic faith means and holds. You know, to me and to you, we are members of a minority faith. This country stands for religious freedom. So many people in the world actually come here for that reason alone, so you can practice your faith. It is central to who we are as a country. And, and that...
MR. GREGORY: But the rule says that, that you can exercise conscience, but the insurance company would have to directly provide access to contraception and insurance coverage for those women who are employed.
REP. CANTOR: What, what the rule does is it basically allows for an exception to the rule if a faith-only ministers or deals with people of that faith. Now you know our religion as well as the Catholic Church and many other religions are about philanthropy and charity to all, and for the government to sit here and tell a faith what they can and can't do is just inappropriate. And that's what this issue's about. And again, there is a stark difference as to who believes what in this. And that's why I believe if Mitt Romney is president, we're not going to have this issue of confusion around religious freedom.
MR. GREGORY: Are you concerned, or I, should I say, do you appreciate the view of women like the, the chairman of the, the Democratic Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who will come here in just a moment, and say that this is about reproductive rights. This is about rights for women.
REP. CANTOR: It is...
MR. GREGORY: Can you appreciate that concern on the part of women?
REP. CANTOR: Well, this is not. Nobody's denying access. No, it's not about that. It is about the administration and the president saying to the Catholic Church that we know what your faith holds and you have to abide by that. It would be like saying to the--those of us in the Jewish faith that, you know, we know what the laws of Kashrut, being kosher means, and we're going to tell you what that means. That's not who we are in this country. That's what the rule is about, and that's why it has no place in, in American politics. And, and again, I think it's very important that we uphold the tenets of religious freedom. It is at the core of who we are as a country.