What a goat screw the Republicans are making of the contraception and Plan-B abortion pill mandate Obama is imposing on the nation. Between Daryll Issa and Rush Limbaugh, the Right is managing what I thought near impossible - ceding the narrative on this unconscionable overreach to the left.
Specifically, last week:
. . . the House Democratic Steering Committee held a hearing concerning the religious exemption on contraception coverage and women's health, inviting Sandra Fluke, a student at Georgetown Law School as the sole witness. Leader Pelosi called the hearing in response to the refusal of Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to allow Fluke to testify at last week's hearing "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?"
In an unusual move, Chairman Issa did not allow the Democratic minority to have a single witness at last week's hearing, allowing testimony only from those opposed to the Obama Administration's decision on women's contraception to testify. The hearing's primary panel did not include a single woman, prompting Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) to ask "Where are the Women?"
At the hearing yesterday, Fluke spoke out for the importance of the Obama Administration's rule to ensure that Catholic students have access to contraceptive coverage under the preventive care package of the Affordable Care Act. The coverage would come from private insurance companies without any funding from religious institutions. In her testimony, Fluke stated, "I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraception coverage in its student health plan. Just as we students have faced financial, emotional, and medical burdens as a result, employees at religiously affiliated hospitals and universities across the country have suffered similar burdens. We are all grateful for the new regulation that will meet the critical health care needs of so many women...We refuse to pick between a quality education and our health, and we resent that, in the 21st century, anyone thinks it's acceptable to ask us to make this choice simply because we are women."
Number one, Issa should never have been so heavy handed as to allow the joint hearing to go forward without allowing the left to call Fluke as a witness. He was too smart by half. Yes, it would have allowed the left to introduce their "it's all about the contraception" narrative into a hearing that Republican's wanted to keep focused on Obama's grotesque violation of the 1st Amendment's free exercise of religion clause. But the left was always going to get the narrative out, with the only question being whether the Republicans would have a chance to cross examine their witnesses. And that would have been worth its weight in gold.
There should have been two questions asked of Ms. Fluke. One - Ms. Fluke, what is it that makes you so special that you can force every working American to contribute a part of their hard earned money to pay for your personal lifestyle choices? And two - Ms. Fluke, the Catholic Church has taught against contraception and abortion as a fundamental part of their religious doctrine since ancient times. Most Christian sects hold likewise. There are millions of religious Americans who believe that it is wrong to use artificial contraception or abortion. Now the argument here has not a single thing to do with whether contraception or abortion should be available in the U.S. That is not at issue. What is at issue is whether these institutions and individuals can be forced to pay for you to use contraception when it contravenes their religious convictions. So please, explain to me any possible scenario in which this Obama HHS mandate is not a clear, utter and blatant violation of that part of the 1st Amendment that provides that Congress shall pass no laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion?
Fluke's attempts to answer those questions are what should have been playing across the news - every hem, every haw, every stutter, every attempt at prevarication. Instead, not merely did Issa screw this up, Rush Limbaugh made it worse. The day after Fluke got a chance to "testify" uncontested, with no cross examination, Rush Limbaugh described Fluke as a slut:
. . . the Georgetown student who went before a congressional committee and said she's having so much sex, she's going broke buying contraceptives and wants us to buy them. I said, "Well, what would you call someone who wants us to pay for her to have sex? What would you call that woman? You'd call 'em a slut, a prostitute or whatever.
In one sense, what Limbaugh said, in the entirety of his remarks, was fine. But the MSM is always on the look out to create new martyrs, regardless of how little justification in reality. No one does faux outrage like the left. And that is precisely what has happened with Fluke. She is now the deeply aggrieved party who, after owning up to facts that indicate she has a sex life to rival that of ancient Rome's Messalina, is apparently entitled not merely to free contraception, but freedom from moral judgment. (Lest I be accused of hypocrisy here, let me just say I happen to have a deep and abiding appreciation for sluts. But while I do not hold Ms. Fluke's impressive appetite for sex against her, that does not mean that she should be free from measurement by others against moral norms.)
Rush has since apologized to Ms. Fluke for "insulting" her. What idiocy. The only thing Rush should have apologized for is giving the left a chance to wholly distort what is at issue. Even in his apology, Rush neglected to bring up the First Amendment issue. It's rare that Rush Limbaugh so screws up and, apparently, loses site of the real issue. But he has done so here.
How all of this will impact what should be an absolute winning argument in the court of public opinion that the HHS mandate is a gross and unconstitutional big government overreach, it is impossible to say. But if many others follow the examples of Issa and Limbaugh, it really may well be that Republicans are able to pull a defeat from the vagina of victory on this one.