Be Not Afraid to Go Beyond the Conventional ‘News’ Frame

Thank God for ads in presidential campaigns (really!), which can become news event in themselves. At their best, they are educational opportunities and today we have one such example. The “Be Not Afraid” ad that the Romney campaign released this morning is a classic example of how campaigns can transcend the mainstream media with ads on social media and broadcast TV. The ad gives his speech in Poland last week a second life. Like Romney’s “We are all Catholic today” comments in Ohio, the speech is instructional in this current fight over the definition of religious freedom in America.

By the time Governor Romney made it to Poland, the narrative had already been established by the chatterverse: ‘Foreign Trip, Failure.’ Then a rude word or two from an aide became the instrument for hammering the narrative home. But the foreign trip included some winning moments and a window into Romney’s vision thing. You saw it in particular in that Poland speech.

In Warsaw, Romney said:

This is a country that made a prisoner a president … that went from foreign domination to the proud and independent nation you are today. And now, for both our nations, the challenge is to be worthy of this legacy as we find a way forward. The false gods of the all-powerful state claim the allegiance of a lonely few. It is for us, in this generation and beyond, to show all the world what free people and free economies can achieve for the good of all.

This is what this election is about. And, yes, jobs, too, are a part of that picture: Freeing small business from some of the added regulatory harnesses the Obama administration has burdened them with. Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor Beckey Kleefisch is “jobs ambassador” in the state and she’s worried about this big picture. Voters of all political stripes need to take a few steps back from political party and consider identity. Who are we? What do we stand for? This is what this election is about in fundamental ways. It doesn’t make you a party partisan to reflect and make a choice.

As Kleefisch told me recently: “Small-business owners are scared right now…. Our small-business owners are wondering if they even want to be entrepreneurs. They’re thinking in advance, ‘How can I limit my growth?’ That’s not American. That’s not who we are. And that’s a health-care law? A plan that’s supposed to be good for people’s health is causing our businesses to anticipate how they’re going to atrophy? It makes me sad as a small-business advocate, as a former small-business owner. That should never have been a side effect of a health-care bill.”

She said she’s sad but she’s also outraged and motivated. Americans are “tired” of this, as Mitt Romney put it yesterday.

And a word about “war” in the Romney “Be Not Afraid” ad. I often hesitate myself to use the phrase “war on religion.” It works great for Newt Gingrich getting a rise out of people who already see what the government is doing here – or who otherwise understand the threats this administrations’ policies pose to America as we’ve known it. But if you’re undecided, or otherwise reachable by the Romney campaign, will the word make you recoil? Because it seems unbelievable? War is in Sudan. We went to war with the Taliban in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks on us. But it’s worth pointing out that it was Kathleen Sebelius herself, the mother of the Department of Health and Human Services contraception, sterilization, abortion-inducing drug mandate, who said they’re at war. And the president is quite proud of this all, as he made clear as Sandra Fluke introduced him yesterday in Denver. From an earlier piece of mine:

“We are in a war,” she told a recent Chicago Power of Choice Luncheon. Opponents of the administration, she said, are trying to “roll back the last 50 years in progress women have made in comprehensive health care in America”. And, now that the bill has passed so we can know what is in it, President Obama does have his moments. During a fundraiser in St. Louis this fall, the president spoke about the health-care law: “Think about what it means for women”. A man in the audience immediately replied, “Birth control”. And President Obama confirmed: “Absolutely. You’re stealing my line”.

“No longer can insurance companies discriminate against women just because you guys are the ones who have to give birth,” he went on. Another audience member engaged: “Darn right!” to which Obama responded: “Darn tooting.”

The war on women rhetoric coming out of the president’s reelection campaign is so insulting — a blatant, cynical play for the women they lost in the midterms. And this “war” the administration — driving the actual practice from the public square (in federal court, the Department of Justice has argued that you give up your religious liberty when you run a business) — has waged is so unnecessary. In Poland, in Ohio, in this new ad, the Romney campaign indicates the former governor of Massachusetts doesn’t intend on letting religious liberty in America be redefined — to the detriment of more than Catholics — without a fight.

  • Sandy

    But Romney is hiding his own religious beliefs which are built upon the belief that the Roman Catholic Church is the “great and abominable church”. Further, Obama mandated insurance companies must provide birth control options, not churches. Churches can still educate about the moral hazards of making that choice. The removal of choice is the key here. As Catholics we should be free to have a choice in America. We are not called to blind allegiance, we are called to make wise and moral choices. I simply can not support Romney who wants to dictate what choices I have, who holds my faith to be abominable, and who is the actual author of the Romneycare/Obamacare that he now argues against for his own convenience. (Leaving aside his lying about his wealth and failing to pay taxes…which is more my belief and not yet solidly proven.) Being religious in America does not mean pandering to cynical politicians who say anything for a vote even if it is contrary to there own actions and their own faith. The “War on Religion” is being conducted by those that seek to tell us how to think, not by those that say such discussions are best left to be conducted in our homes and our churches.

    • Joe Eagar

      That’s absurd. Insurance plans are paid by insurance customers–that’s where the money comes from. Obama’s “compromise” doesn’t change anything. You know it and I know it.

    • SteveAR

      Sandy, you hit all the lying Democrat talking points given to you.

      You say the Mormon faith Romney adheres to calls the Catholic Church an abomination. Guess what? Protestant Christian faiths consider the Catholic Church an abomination, while the Catholic Church considers other Christian faiths, including Mormonism, heresy. But no Church advocates some kind of “uprising” or whatever against each other. What you said is so meaningless it’s pointless drivel.

      “I simply can not support Romney who wants to dictate what choices I have,…”

      And what choices does Romney want to dictate to you? You aren’t specific. You’re ranting, and your rants are approaching the kinds of lies spewed by the Obama campaign’s Stephanie Cutter, who was caught in a blatant lie (Romney should file suit against the Obama campaign because of Cutter).

      “Further, Obama mandated insurance companies must provide birth control options, not churches.”

      Sandy, have you ever had a job? Do you know how health insurance works? Do you know that thousands of enterprises, including many of those run by the Catholic Church, self-insure and don’t buy policies through an insurance company? Plus, birth control options cost money; those enterprises that do buy health insurance policies from insurance companies will be charged for those “birth control options” since the insurance companies aren’t going to give this coverage away for nothing.

      “Churches can still educate about the moral hazards of making that choice. The removal of choice is the key here. As Catholics we should be free to have a choice in America.”

      And the Catholic Church has the choice of excommunicating you if you exercise those choices that violate their tenets. It doesn’t mean the government is stopping you from making those choices; but it does mean the government has no power to interfere in how the Church deals with racalcitrant adherents.

      If you are a Catholic, you should be much more worried about what Obama is going to do to your church and you, in violation of First Amendment, something the Obama regime has been caught doing already. Romney will adhere to the Constitution and defend your rights, which is his job.

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  • Joni

    Wait a minute. We HAVE to give birth? Weird, I thought we GET to give birth. In fact, from where I’m sitting, it’s the greatest privilege God has given to women.

    This is carrying the fertility-as-disease thing a little far. If women were finally freed from the onerous burden of giving birth, well, who would pay into Social Security?


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