The PJ Tatler

Poll: Obama's Standing with Catholics Taking a Dive in Swing States

Note how The Hill titles their post about this:

Protest by Catholic activists may hamper Obama reelection bid

It’s the Catholic protesters’ fault! What are they protesting? What has Obama done? Not important…

President Obama has seen his standing among Catholic voters, a crucial segment of the electorate, slip in recent weeks, and a looming confrontation with Catholic activists could make it worse.

Democrats want voters this year to focus on what they have branded a war on women, but the flip side of the debate — the so-called war on religion — is not going away anytime soon.

Two graphs into the story, The Hill still hasn’t mentioned what Obama did.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called for two weeks of public protest in June and July against what it sees as growing government encroachment on religious freedom.

What are they protesting? The Hill seems to think it’s a secret.

The protests are expected to include priests and nuns and thousands of Catholic parishioners. Some activists expect civil disobedience, which could lead to powerful images of priests and nuns being led away in hand restraints.

“This is the most dynamic situation I’ve ever seen since I’ve been involved in Catholics and politics,” said Deal Hudson, president of Catholic Advocate, who also headed Catholic outreach for the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign in 2000 and 2004. “I think civil disobedience is almost inevitable. I think that kind of protest is on the way.”

Republican strategists say the rallies and protests could become powerfully symbolic in the presidential election.

What. Are. They. Protesting? The Hill’s article was either incompetently written, or deliberately designed to make the Catholics look like the aggressors for protesting something that Roll Call deems unmentionable.

Skipping over a couple of paragraphs, none of which explain why Catholics may protest, we come to this:

Steven Wagner, the president of QEV Analytics, a polling firm that recently conducted a survey for The Catholic Association, said religion could emerge as a sleeper issue in the election: “Everyone says this election is about the economy. I can see the issue of religious liberty being what decides the race. If Obama continues to lose Catholics by the margin the Pew poll suggests, that means he could lose the key swing states of Florida, Ohio, Colorado and Iowa.”

Losses in those states could cost Obama the White House, and the states are likely aware of that fact. Wagner noted the administration will likely try to be careful and avoid provoking Catholic activists before the election.

Really? Weren’t they already provoked by something, Hill? What was it?

Let’s inject a little race into the story.

Obama has lost support among Catholic voters since the beginning of his term. A March 21 poll by the Pew Research Center found a “noticeable shift in opinions” among white Catholics in their views of the administration. Thirty-one percent of white Catholics now describe it as unfriendly to religion, compared to 17 percent in August of 2009.

Emphasis added. Now that The Hill has injected race into a story about a religious protest story for no real reason, it can get around to mentioning why Catholics are angry.

The administration’s mandate requiring faith-based organizations to cover the healthcare costs of contraception has been the biggest cause of Catholics’ concern.

Bingo! We’re 13 paragraphs in. How does The Hill follow up its first clear mention of why Catholics are angry with Obama? By blaming the protesters, again.

The conference of bishops was not mollified by Obama’s effort to accommodate their concerns or his decision to maintain restrictions on Plan B, the morning-after pill.

“Not mollified” — the big babies! Because the “accomodation” the administration rolled out changed nothing at all. The mandate still violates religious freedom. The Hill doesn’t mention that. The Hill follows up with giving liberal Catholics the last word, regarding why more mainstream Catholics are angry with Obama.

But James Salt, the executive director of Catholics United, a social justice group aligned with more liberal politics, said the public relations campaign is misguided.

“It reflects a great misplaced priority of the bishops,” he said. “In no way is it apparent to me how Catholics in America are oppressed. Their positioning in society is greater than their numbers. There are six Catholic members of the Supreme Court.

“This is part of a very orchestrated campaign by the bishops to make contraception the focus of the 2012 election,” he said.

He said the broader goal of the bishop’s conference is to put Mitt Romney in the White House so he can put a fifth conservative justice on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion.

The Hill is generally better than this piece, which is an infuriating exercise in lead burying, race baiting, and obfuscation.

But the bottom line is, Obama is starting to pay dearly for his decision to provoke Catholics via the abortifacient mandate, and it may cost him several key states. The Hill does its best to make that simple sentence nearly impossible to tease out of its reporting.

-I mistook The Hill for Roll Call. I regret the mistake and have corrected the article. -bp