The PJ Tatler

The Great Uniter has become the Great Divider

It doesn’t matter whether President Obama intended to ignite a firestorm with his birth control/abortion mandate.  The fact is that he did, and the genie is finally out of the bottle.  Last weekend, Andrew Sullivan wrote a piece for Newsweek suggesting that the president “Set a Contraception Trap for the Right”:

“The more Machiavellian observer might even suspect this is actually an improved bait and switch by Obama to more firmly identify the religious right with opposition to contraception, its weakest issue by far, and to shore up support among independent women and his more liberal base. I’ve found by observing this president closely for years that what often seem like short-term tactical blunders turn out in the long run to be strategically shrewd. And if this was a trap, the religious right walked right into it.”

Sullivan may be correct, but I have my doubts.  Keep in mind that President Obama is the man who singlehandedly destroyed any hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the near future by suggesting that Israel accept the “1967 borders” which were actually armistice lines and that Israel should stop building “settlements” — even “settlements” in her own capital, Jerusalem, which are actually neighborhoods.  Gabriel Scheinmann, a visiting fellow at The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, wrote about that problem in a piece titled “Misunderstanding Clausewitz: Why the Obama Administration’s Policies have Undermined Israel’s Security.”  I bring it up here simply to point out that President Obama has a penchant for committing colossal and costly blunders that pundits like Andrew Sullivan after the fact try to imagine were strokes of strategic genius.

But again, regardless of his intentions, President Obama has unleashed forces that are beyond his ability to control at this point.  As Sullivan correctly observed,

“Who knew the sexual and religious politics of the 1990s were suddenly back, under the president who promised he’d try to end them? And who knew the president himself — who has made an elegant art form out of avoiding exactly these kinds of controversies in his first three years — would have made the final call on the one that suddenly united the entire Republican right in roiling rage?”

This battle is just getting started.  It probably won’t end until the general election in November, if then, and the “Republican right” isn’t the only group that’s in a “roiling rage.”  Democrats and others who believe that we should leave God out of the political process are fit to be tied.  For example, the top 3 political news articles in diggtm on Wednesday were titled “An Overwhelming Majority want the Catholic Church to STFU about birth control,” “5 Brave Religious Leaders Who Fought Christian Theocracy in America,” and “Colbert: Using contraception means ‘you are c*ck blocking God’.  With one ill-fated shot, President Obama hit two hornets’ nests, Democrats and Republicans, and the upshot is that we are about to learn who we are as a people at this moment in time.

I have a strong hunch that abortion/birth control is the tip of the iceberg.  Beneath the surface you will find a host of other constitutional issues that are dear to the hearts of constitutional conservatives who believe that our founding document actually matters.  From gun control to end runs around Congress to recess appointments to appointing czars who don’t require Senate confirmation to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s advice to Egyptian leaders that they should use South Africa’s constitution as a model instead of ours to you name it, our constitutional form of government is being assaulted, and President Obama is leading the attack.  Did he wind up there by design or by accident?  Who knows, but his much is certain: the Great Uniter has become the Great Divider.

Jim Daly, President and CEO of Focus on the Family, understands the situation we face better than most.  In an article for The Washington Post on Tuesday titled “Birth control mandate: beyond our God-given rights,” he said,

“It was difficult to click on a Web site, turn on the TV or venture into the social media space over the weekend without encountering news of President Barack Obama’s attempt to blunt criticism that his health-care plan would force religious groups to violate their deeply held morals and values by paying for contraceptive drugs that could cause abortions.

[…]

Perhaps the most fundamental flaw in the White House’s ‘accommodation’ reasoning, no matter, frankly, what in the end that accommodation turns out to be, is that religious liberties are not something any president has the legal authority to recognize or deny. As Christians, we believe these rights come from God; but you don’t need to believe in God to recognize such rights are protected for all citizens by the Constitution.

There is a limit to what government can compel us to do — or not do — particularly in matters of faith and conscience. It is in the best interest of all Americans, of every ideological stripe, that this limit, this line, not be crossed.

This is not about politics. It is about more than one government policy. It is about what’s proper — and it is never proper for government to force the people who elected it to violate their consciences.”

It doesn’t matter in the slightest how we got to this point.  The fact is that we are here, and this is exactly where we should be.  As a nation, we need to decide if we will adhere to the proud traditions that were codified into law and handed down to us by our Founding Fathers or if we will abandon those principles in favor of European-style precepts that have led to a form of socialism/government control that is bankrupting one European nation after another at this very moment.  The best place, the only place, to fight this so-called “culture war” is during a presidential election campaign, so let the games begin.