Sorry, Beltway, Barack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius won the birth control wars

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I know the conventional wisdom is that President Obama got caught flat footed on the contraceptives rule change (see here and here for the discussion we had on that subject on “Now with Alex Wagner” on Friday). But in the end, I don’t see how this fight wasn’t a big win for the president, for Katleen Sebelius, the HHS secretary, for the women in the Obama White House and in Congress, and of course, for all women who don’t want their fertility controlled by the elderly, male bishops of the Catholic Church.

Five reasons why this is a net Obama win?

1. It gave the president a chance to state his support for women’s access to contraception
2. That support is now neatly contrasted with the bishops’ thinly disguised fight to deny women access to birth control
3. It triggered yet another Republican freak out, which once again drew them into publicly taking a stand that will make female voters cringe
4. The religious liberty argument it triggered won’t gain Republicans any new voters, but standing up to the Bishops is a net positive for Obama with younger voters
5. The compromise announced on Friday neutralizes the religious liberty argument anyway, denying the GOP a talking point they can use to whip up evangelicals in November

That’s the short version. But you’re going to want t read Amanda Marcotte’s excellent explanation of how Obama punked the GOP once again.

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4 Responses to Sorry, Beltway, Barack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius won the birth control wars

  1. pearl says:

    I agree with Marcotte and you, Joy-Ann, on this. Even before this article came out, I was thinking to myself that Pres. Obama PROBABLY did this on purpose — just to get Republicans to show their ugly side AGAIN. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s done that. Republicans are such easy patsies I’m sure the President just couldn’t resist.

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  3. zizi2 says:

    I agree with you completely.
    What excited me most was the road to the “compromise” which EJ Dione has tutted. But what he fails to realize is that had the White House & HHS offered “the compromise” at the start, the intransigence of the Bishops that has continued NOW regardless of Friday’s compromise, would have not been seen for the phony cause & power grab that it really is.

    By drawing fire & ire with the first proposal, the Obama administration LOUDLY made sure the apathetic public saw the “process” play out, and importantly WOMEN HEARD about this critical provision in the ACA. It was messaging genius.

    Secondly, the “crisis” & its resolution separated the relevant practical stakeholders like the Catholic Hospitals Association (Sister Keehan) from the misogynistic Bishops hellbent on an ideological war– a very shrewd political feat that divides an otherwise united opposition front.

    Whether intentional or not the “split” among Democrats & the freakout among the MSNBC Catholic boys + Mark Shields magnified both the “crisis” & shoved a pacifier in their mouths after the “compromise”. The public optics of Harmony restored signaled to the non-engaged public that the matter is OVER.

    The furrow-browed public will now wonder what agenda the continued whining from Bishops, GOP congresscritters & their presidential candidates is REALLY hiding.

    Very well played all around.

  4. leftover says:

    I will feel much better calling all this a “victory” once the “final rule” is published and we hear from the insurance companies on how the “accommodation” is actually going to work.

    Some articles I read say it’s like the “Hawaii model.” Others say it’s not. I read Dolan and the USCCB say, “While there may be an openness to respond to some of our concerns, we reserve judgment on the details until we have them.”
    I read AHIP says, “We are concerned about the precedent this proposed rule would set. As we learn more about how this rule would be operationalized, we will provide comments through the regulatory process.”
    The Obama Administration has, in the past, changed direction on it health insurance reform in response to special interests, and is still negotiating behind closed doors with employers and insurers over what will be defined in the PPACA as “essential benefits” in health insurance plans.
    So it’s not really clear, yet, exactly what’s going to happen.

    Obama may indeed have “punked” the GOP. (It’s really not that hard to do…is it?) And if that’s all he wanted to do, then he certainly took the round. But I’m hoping the goal is to have the final rule actually do what he says it will do.

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