by Max Brantley
When the Moonie Washington Times says Republicans are losing the fight on President Obama's policy to cover women's preventive care, including birth control, you know Republicans are losing the fight.
Their fight with President Obama over contraceptive coverage is becoming a losing battle for Republicans, a significant chunk of whom reject GOP leaders’ stance that it’s a fight about religious liberty, according to the latest Washington Times/JZ Analytics poll.
While a majority of Republicans side with their party’s leaders, a striking 30 percent agree with Mr. Obama’s stance that his contraception mandate is about women’s health.
Regarding young voters, the poll has even worse news for the GOP.
“Drop this baby right now. Drop it. This is not a winner,” John Zogby, the pollster who conducted the survey, said by way of advising the GOP. “I don’t know if the White House was smart enough to box Republicans into a corner on this — I don’t know if it was by plan — but I think it worked out that way.”
Also today on the Republican sex obsession beat comes a report on Huffington Post about state and local legislative reactions around the country against invasive medical mandates against women in furtherance of the Republican Party's anti-birth control, anti-abortion and generally anti-woman platform.
* From Illlinois, a proposal that men be required to view a graphic video about dangers of Viagra before receiving a prescription.
* From Delaware, a sperm equality proposal.
* From Oklahoma, a law against semen wasting.
* From Virginia, a mandatory rectal exam for men seeking Viagra.
* From Ohio, required psychological screenings to get Viagra.
AND FINALLY: Ernie Dumas delves this week into Rush, the Republicans' obsession with sex and control of people's lives. (BTW: Arkansas Republicans and their apologists are saying no Republican politician should have to comment on Rush's misogyny. Really? He was only carrying the party strategy to demonize a woman not allowed to testify before the all-male show trial staged against contraception by House Republicans. At the very least, don't you think Arkansas lawmakers should have a comment on the elemental lack of fairness in Congress on this issue and the violently offensive treatment given to a woman who gave sworn testimony before Congress in another venue? I do.)
By ERNEST DUMAS
It has never been clear whether Rush Limbaugh is the Republican Party’s philosopher or merely its herald, but he always comes through when the party needs him.
So it was again when the party and its presidential candidates tried to persuade religious voters, particularly Catholics, that President Obama was trying to destroy religious freedom in America by requiring health insurance policies to cover birth control. The new insurance law seeks to lower medical costs over the long term by insuring preventive care, and the administration said contraceptive medicine was a fundamental part of it.
Despite their cries that the rule would force Catholics to violate their conscience and Catholic employers to breach church doctrine, polls showed that Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich weren’t getting the point across, so like Custer at Little Bighorn Limbaugh came to the rescue and illuminated the issue clearly where the presidential candidates and party leaders had only muddied it.
It’s all about U.S. women wanting to have sex and making others—taxpayers and employers—pay to keep them from getting pregnant, Limbaugh explained, calling a female student who favored the coverage a slut and a prostitute and suggesting that she tape herself having sex and put it on the internet so he could watch it.
More such help and the Republican chances of winning the White House and the Senate will vanish. Republicans by the weekend were looking for a strategy to hold onto a few women voters outside the Tea Party ranks, and Limbaugh was struggling to hold onto his lucrative radio program, or at least his sponsors. When businesses started canceling their ads, Limbaugh apologized to the woman snidely, but when nine of them canceled he amended his apology to say that he was sincere about it.
Limbaugh had undertaken to help the GOP in the way that he had learned 20 years ago from Newt Gingrich: demonize anyone on the other side as an indecent human being or an enemy who intends to destroy the United States. The best target seemed to be a student who had been trying to get her college, the Jesuit university in Washington that graduated Bill Clinton, to amend its insurance plan to cover contraceptive pills that control a disease that causes ovarian cysts. A college friend couldn’t afford both the pills and student costs, went off the medication and then had to have an ovary surgically removed, perhaps ending her child-bearing potential. Sandra Fluke had wanted to testify in support of the Obama regulation but Republicans in the House barred her from an all-male panel of witnesses on the rule.
Although he clearly did not know anything about Sandra Fluke, understand anything about birth control (he thought women took them only when they were going to have sex) or know anything about the health insurance law and the proposed rule (he thought taxpayers paid for the insurance), Limbaugh really did illuminate the issue. It had nothing at all to do with religious freedom, but if it triggered any constitutional issue it was equal protection of the laws for women. Women enjoy the same rights as men and they should enjoy them whoever they work for, even if it is Catholic hospital or university.
Limbaugh, you may remember, uses Viagra, which is usually covered by insurance, to overcome his erectile dysfunction and maintain a virile sex life. (He’s with his fourth wife, with no children, so someone must be practicing birth control.) After Limbaugh’s junket to the Dominican Republic in a private plane with several pals three years ago, customs agents found a Viagra prescription for another man in his luggage. To avoid prosecution, Limbaugh explained to the agents that he had his doctor put his prescription in the name of a psychiatrist who was treating him for drug addiction.
To support the presidential candidates, Senate Republicans proffered a bill to allow all employers—not just Catholics and church-affiliated enterprises—that provide health insurance for their workers to opt out of covering any kind of medical expense that violates the boss’s beliefs. Sickened by the rank hypocrisy of this and other snipe hunts by her party, Sen. Olympia Snowe voted against it and announced that she would not run again.
So how would that law work if it had passed? A Baptist preacher of my acquaintance has maintained for years that gluttony is a sin condemned not once but dozens of times by the Bible. (Try particularly Proverbs, Philippians, Deuteronomy, Corinthians, Galatians, Romans and Luke.) He had to leave one suburban church when several ample women thought that he was preaching to them and they stirred up the flock against him. I have an idea that the reverend maintains that covering treatment of diabetes and other diseases that may be related to food and alcohol excess violates God’s word. A conscientious Baptist employer would have to cancel that coverage, wouldn’t he?
No one has been more pious than Romney on the birth-control coverage. He said the administration was abrading the fundamental American right of religious freedom. No federal or state law, he said, can go against the doctrine of a church and expect acolytes of the church to adhere to it.
But what about the Morrill Act, passed by Republicans and signed by Abraham Lincoln, which outlawed polygamy, then the holy doctrine of Romney’s Mormon church. Lincoln didn’t enforce the law in Utah for a time in exchange for the territory not joining with the Confederates, but the church eventually accommodated its teachings to the law of the land. Romney now supports the government’s action, as presumably do Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Maybe even Rush Limbaugh.