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The first (and possibly last time) I have ever agreed with ThereIsNoSpoon

David Adkins, aka ThereIsNoSpoon, tells it like it is on the contraception debate at Digby’s Hullabaloo:

These things don’t happen by accident. The conservative establishment decided early on that this was going to be a hill for them to die on. They weren’t forced to die on that hill. They could have let the Bishops stand alone. But they didn’t. They decided to run this ball all the way down the court.

And guess what? As Digby points out, it’s working. What just a few weeks ago was considered so mainstream as to an afterthought (providing contraception) is now seen as some sort of controversial touchstone, even as “religious freedom” has become a buzzword in the press.

Democrats can high-five one another about Republican overreach and laugh hysterically at the increased number of votes Barack Obama will receive in 2012 over Mitt Santorum. But ultimately the joke’s on us. It’s been on us ever since the Obama Administration decided to concede an inch to the misogynist conspiracy of extremist fanatics that are the Bishops, rather than mock them immediately for being out of touch with their own flock, to say nothing of the mainstream American public.

The political ground on contraception has suddenly shifted to the right faster than I have seen on any social issue in my lifetime. It’s incredible.

I think my tinfoil antenna were picking up the “Religious Liberty” meme a couple of months ago (damn, I really should be more thorough with tags) and wondered what the heck the Republicans were up to.  For some strange reason I thought it would have something to do with Faith Based Initiatives or something like that.  Definitely, this was going to be The Big Deal during the 2012 election season, The Wedge Issue of the Year.  Who knew it would take the form of a War on Contraception?

When are Democrats going to realize that the Republicans have a crack operation of skilled psychmetricians and marketing people who have have done expert data analysis and have strategized the best way to get their voters to the polls in November?  Democrats SUCK at this.  Yes, all you Kool-Aid addled Obots, Barack Obama didn’t win because he was some kind of wonderful.  He won because part of the Republican war machine got behind him in 2008 to take out the real Democrat.  He’s a fricking one-off.  His election was historic and that was the wedge issue of 2008.  Now, he’s no longer historic.  He’s just a lousy president.

So, while the feminists are justifiably tearing their hair out over the loss of more bodily autonomy, let’s examine why this is such a phenomenally successful wedge issue.  First, Obama and his entourage went on a rampage in 2008 and slashed and burned their way through the Democratic base.  Misogyny went unchecked and even gained a foothold.  Congratulations Democratic party!  You’ve just made a substantial portion of your base second class citizens.  Any woman who jumped on this bandwagon seeing a ticket to ride to the top of the access list should really have her head examined and none of us should be forced to listen to her or read about her anymore.  For damn sure, she should not be sitting on panels in places like the local branch of NOW in Kansas.   (H/T Katiebird)

It goes without saying, even though some women are apparently dumber than a box of rocks, that women should NEVER put their own interests second to the political ambitions of any man.  No, no, no.  Not until we have achieved full equality, which means not for the forseeable future. If you have an opportunity to vote for a reasonable woman, even if you do not agree with her 100%, you should vote for her if she represents your interests as a woman and is willing to fight for your equality. Your focus should be on what she will do for women because we are the majority of citizens in this country and what is best for us, tends to be best for everyone else as well.  You should not be distracted by someone else’s priorities and unless she is personally leading the convoy into Baghdad on the top of a tank like some modern day Boudicca, her views on war should be put into the same context as other candidates. In the future, I hope that women will hold each other accountable for maintaining unity.  Any stepping out of line should be met with swift and thorough correction.  We need to be a voting bloc to be feared, uncompromising and retributive.  Let’s learn from the Christian coalition playbook, shall we?

And let’s dispense with the idea that the Republicans are ignorant of the scientific method.  What did the Republicans learn by observation from 2008?  They learned that Barack Obama is a self centered, ambitious guy.  He’s a guy who doesn’t have any particular interest in women’s rights.  His fealty is to the banking class.  That’s who’s footing the bills.  Unfortunately for Obama (and this is what makes him such a lousy politician), he still needs women he’s been blowing off in order to win.  He needs their votes.  He doesn’t need banker votes because there aren’t enough of them to make a substantial dent in the electoral college. And what do bankers care about contraception?  Do they even have an opinion?  No.  The only people who really care about contraception are the conservatives and Obama’s not going to get their votes anyway, unless he intends to kiss up to them. And the only reason he would bow to their votes would be if he was intending to blow off his base and go right.

This is where we are.  Obama had a choice.  He could either stick up for women’s equality and bodily autonomy and tell the religious they were being intrusive.  Or he could try to be all things to all people and hope that the bishops would negotiate with him in good faith so he could grab the religious while keeping the women relatively quiet.  Remember, this is no-drama Obama we’re talking about.  He’s not into confrontation.  He prefers quiet little negotiation sessions where no one raises their voices and everything is on the table- because that’s worked so well in negotiations on our behalf with the bankers in the recent past {{rolling eyes}}.

(Note to loyal Democrats: Once you experience the “Pain of Independence“, you’ll never be able to look at Obama in the same way again. The nausea and disorientation can be alarming but your perspective will change and you will be almost desperate to get him out of the Oval Office.)

The Republicans see this as passivity, which it is.  In the corporate world, we have management training courses on personal power and dynamics.  The facilitator would describe Obama’s modus operandi as a losing strategy.  Imagine there is a passive-aggressive scale from 1-10 with passive on the lower end and aggressive on the higher end.  To be truly effective as a negotiator, you should stay in the sweet spot of 5-7.  A 4 or below is too passive; 7 and above is too aggressive.  Ideally, both parties want to stay in the sweet spot.  But if you normally operate as a 4 and your opponent is at 7, you need to go up to level 7 to be effective.  If he goes to 8, you need to go to 8.  He has to see that you’re not backing down so that he must in order to strike a deal.

The problem with Republicans is that they are always at level 8.  And if you don’t come right back and smash them at 8 or above, they’ll escalate.  We are now at escalation.  They’ve gone to 11 and Obama et al are at level 5.  Great, just great.

That’s why ThereIsNoSpoon is disconcerted by the way Republicans have dominated this issue.  They went from 8 to 11 and now anything Obama does is going to look defensive.  If he had come out swinging in the first couple of days and told the Republicans that they were setting new precedent and moving the goalpost back on women’s rights and he, Obama, was not going to yield on contraception unless Jesus tapdancin’ Christ came down personally to negotiate on behalf of the bishops, he would have ruled the day and even *I* might have had some kind of grudging respect for him.

But he’s a baaaaaaad politician.  Craven, selfish, indifferent, calculating and a poor decision maker with equally bad political consultants.  So, now, the idea that a religious institution can have a say over whether or not you get birth control when 98% of its own adherents ignore said religious institution’s very clear, very unambiguous proscriptions against it, suddenly, that idea looks pretty reasonable.  Americans don’t tend to think these things through very carefully these days because they are overwhelmed with personal and financial obligations, so they rely on the media to tell them what’s going on.  Obama managed to be so ineffective at stopping the meme through his own inept handling of the matter that the right wing noise machine’s religious liberty meme is just hitting its stride.  It’s going to be repeated and repeated and repeated until it seems normal until suddenly, women will start having a devil of a time getting their prescriptions filled without some byzantine procedure.

And let’s not forget that the only people who really care about denying people contraceptives are highly conservative seniors and their church hierarchy.  No one else gives a damn.  The wedge issue is just a clever way for Republicans to separate a few more women’s votes from Obama when they realize that, once again, he threw them under a bus and doesn’t seem to understand how much harder he has made their lives.  In the meantime, the religious right will think they’re being persecuted (oh PLEEZE) and will have a very good reason to show up at the polls this November to toss the Democrats out on their asses.

Now, I could be wrong about this but I don’t think that there is anyway *this* president is going to be able to fix this particular issue at this point in time.  He may go on to win as a result of some other catastrophe but he’s lost the edge he had on the contraceptive issue.  Maybe another player will be able to change this around but not Obama.  So, the Democrats better have something else up their sleeves or the Republicans will eat their lunch.

Just because they don’t like their present candidates doesn’t mean the Republicans can’t get their voters spitting nails by November.  And Democrats shouldn’t count on independent liberals to save their bacon at the last minute.  We’ve got our eyes on a different prize these days.  We’ll just sit on the sidelines and watch the bloodbath.  We’re into solving problems and this election isn’t going to solve any problems.  If I were the Democrats, I might have curbed the impulse to squash OWS and women and ignore the unemployed for so long.

And don’t look now but the Republicans are going to turn off the gas spigot this summer and stop UI bennies in September.  If the Democrats had stored up some goodwill over the past four years, the impending pain and chaos wouldn’t look so horrible.  But they didn’t and it will.  If I were them, I’d pass on the White House and work like madmen to elect new faces to Congress.

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More of Titli’s Busy Kitchen.  This recipe is for Caramel Shortbread.  Stick with it.

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