Michael Gerson: you may be tempted to dismiss it as hyperbole, but he makes a strong argument that, with his HHS mandate (which, his Press Secretary Jay Carney has confirmed, he will not subject to further review) a strong argument that Obama has declared war on all religion. Read it all, but if you haven’t time, at least absorb this:
Both radicalism and maliciousness are at work in Obama’s decision — an edict delivered with a sneer. It is the most transparently anti-Catholic maneuver by the federal government since the Blaine Amendment was proposed in 1875 — a measure designed to diminish public tolerance of Romanism, then regarded as foreign, authoritarian and illiberal. Modern liberalism has progressed to the point of adopting the attitudes and methods of 19th-century Republican nativists.
The implications of Obama’s choice will take years to sort through. The immediate impact can be measured on three men: Consider Catholicism’s most prominent academic leader, the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. Jenkins took a serious risk in sponsoring Obama’s 2009 honorary degree and commencement address — which promised a “sensible” approach to the conscience clause. Jenkins now complains, “This is not the kind of ‘sensible’ approach the president had in mind when he spoke here.” Obama has made Jenkins — and other progressive Catholic allies — look easily duped.
Consider Catholicism’s highest-ranking elected official, Vice President Joe Biden. Biden had encouraged engagement with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on conscience rights. Now he will be remembered as the Catholic cover for the violation of Catholic conscience. Betrayal is always an inside job.
Consider Catholicism’s most prominent clerical leader, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, head of the Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dolan had pursued a policy of engagement with the administration. In November 2011, he met face-to-face with Obama, who was earnestly reassuring on conscience protections. On Jan. 20, during a less-cordial phone conversation, Obama informed Dolan that no substantial concession had been made. How can Dolan make the argument for engagement now?
[. . .] Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.
Emphasis mine. Read it all and pass it around!
Meanwhile, Ross Douthat reviews the tag-team-tantrum acted out last week by our elites in the press and the government, as they bullied one non-profit entity for declaring an intention not to give less than $700,000 to another non-profit entity, here in America, where we’re supposed to be free.
But if you’ve followed the media frenzy surrounding the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s decision — which it backpedaled from, with an apology, after a wave of frankly brutal coverage — to discontinue about $700,000 in funding for Planned Parenthood, you would think all these millions of anti-abortion Americans simply do not exist.
From the nightly news shows to print and online media, the coverage’s tone alternated between wonder and outrage — wonder that anyone could possibly find Planned Parenthood even remotely controversial and outrage that the Komen foundation had “politicized” the cause of women’s health. [. . .]
Mayor Michael Bloomberg just pledged $250,000 to Planned Parenthood; that’s obviously his right. Before Komen backtracked, the Yale School of Public Health said its invitation to Brinker to speak at commencement was “under careful review”; that’s certainly any school’s prerogative.
But reporters have different obligations. Even if some forms of partiality are inevitable, journalists betray their calling when they simply ignore self-evident truths about a story.
Three truths, in particular, should be obvious to everyone reporting on the Komen-Planned Parenthood controversy. First, that the fight against breast cancer is unifying and completely uncontroversial, while the provision of abortion may be the most polarizing issue in the United States today. Second, that it’s no more “political” to disassociate oneself from the nation’s largest abortion provider than it is to associate with it in the first place. Third, that for every American who greeted Komen’s shift with “anger and outrage” (as Andrea Mitchell put it), there was probably an American who was relieved and gratified.
Indeed, that sense of relief was quantifiable: the day after the controversy broke, Komen reported that its daily donations had risen dramatically.
But of course, you wouldn’t know that from most of the media coverage. After all, the people making those donations don’t exist.
Emphasis mine, again. I have no particular feeling for the Komen foundation — I neither love nor hate it. But I despise bullies.
We have an extraordinarily interesting year before us.