Sunday, January 29, 2017
Often during the past few years, I've heard the argument that, somehow, the Catholic bishops and other entities challenging the application of the contraception-coverage mandate were on-the-march "culture warriors" waging a misguided offensive campaign instead of pursuing compromise. As I see it, and as I've said on this blog, it was not the challengers who asked for this conflict. In any event, Michael Wear's new book, Reclaiming Hope, apparently details the cynical calculations of at least some in the previous administration who saw in the issue an opportunity to marginalize the bishops for political gain. (Mark Halperin and John Heilemann had chronicled some of this in their account of the 2012 election, Double Down.) Here's a bit from Jim Geraghty's review:
In describing the battle that erupted between the administration and the Little Sisters of the Poor over Obamacare’s contraception mandate, Wear casts himself as Cassandra. “This was not a standard disagreement between religious conservatives and a progressive White House, but instead a potentially landscape-shifting conflict-stoking move. This reality was conveyed to the highest levels of the White House repeatedly.” He claims that the administration chose “the path of most resistance” in the contraception fight as a deliberate, cynical political strategy: “A senior political advisor repeatedly thought that the bishops’ complaints would bolster a useful campaign narrative: that supporters of their view, including Republican Mitt Romney, held anachronistic views about women and family planning.’”
Unfortunately, there are more than a few reasons to think cynical attacks on Catholic bishops by prominent White House staffers will continue. . . .