I'm deeply amused right now. Before the White House announced the policy tweak on the contraception mandate, there was a lot of gloat-y "Obama is going to compromise!" stories from the more conservative-leaning press, and I really did think Obama caved. But I hopped on the White House conference call and realized as soon as it was over that Obama punked the Republicans. His speech at noon just confirmed it. I explained how at XX Factor. If there's any doubt, check out the weeping and wailing from anti-choicers. Even the ones who claim to be "for" birth control are steaming mad, exposing them as the knee-jerk woman haters they are. I'm having a blast.
Digby posted on this, and she has an interesting thought:
Whether or not the Bishops accept this accommodation, I do think this has put birth control permanently on the sex police menu and it's not going to go away. From this point on, contraception will be "controversial" in health care politics. How can it not? It's "evil." So, in that sense they win regardless.
I agree that this was the Bishops attempting to flex their muscles, but no, I don't think they succeeded in any way. The anti-choice strategy has always been about chipping away at women's reproductive rights without coming out directly as anti-woman or anti-sex. They know that if the fight is about sex or about women, they lose. So they go out of their way to claim that the fight is about anything but sex or women's roles. It's about fetal life. Or religious liberty. Or parental rights. Anything but sex or women's rights. Obama called their bluff.
If in fact anti-choicers double down and start attacking contraception more directly, I welcome that like it was a birthday party thrown for me by a rich benefactor. Dragging this out and fighting about sex openly is what pro-choicers have always wanted, because once we start talking about what this is really about, we win. Being anti-sex is unpopular and makes you look like a complete weirdo. Even people who were against the mandate are probably going to get sour if this fight becomes more explicitly about a bunch of a religious nuts trying to tell us how to fuck. I want to fight about contraception. It's like fighting over cable television. The side against it is going to lose that one.
The liberal press is getting it. Greg Sargent has already called out Orrin Hatch for rising to the bait and claiming that employers should basically be able to block access to contraception coverage, while correctly describing contraception as a wedge issue against Republicans. Scott Lemieux concurs that it's a great wedge. I think we're going to see more people come around to seeing that Obama provoked exactly the fight we want to have.