Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When The Frame Doesn't Fit The Picture

(Political cartoon by David Horsey and published 2/20/12 by the Los Angeles Times. Click on image to enlarge and then come back.)

Yes, it's Tuesday, but it's one of those rare Tuesdays when there is no GOP primary. The next one is two weeks away. There's still, however, some news from that race. Newt Gingrich admits that Mitt Romney will undoubtedly be the Republican nominee, but Newt is staying in the race to keep Romney from the etch-a-sketch and to make certain the party platform remains as conservative as Newt wants it to be.

Newt has some ideas on what he wants included in the platform and in the campaign, but he-of-the-grandiose-ideas has not come up with anything new, according to Los Angeles Times columnist Jon Healey.

Gingrich continues to hope that his ideas will find their way into not just the party platform – after all, who reads that? – but also into the GOP’s orthodoxy over the long run. He cited four in particular: energy independence, personal Social Security accounts a la Chile, religious liberty and debt repayment.

Here’s hoping he comes up with a better list before he officially drops out of the race, because those are four surprisingly stale ideas.

Healey's right: there's nothing particularly new or surprising about any of them. Healey also does a pretty good job at pointing out the flaws in all of them (and you should read the fairly short column), but I do have some disagreement with his explication of the "religious liberty" aspect.

Gingrich’s point on religious liberty is simple: “The government should not force its values on any religious institution.” But he probably doesn’t intend it to be as grand an idea as it sounds. The government’s values include not discriminating against people on the basis of their race, and there’s no carve-out for church-affiliated hospitals to deny care to blacks or Asians. It’s doubtful that Gingrich would want to give religious institutions carte blanche to ignore U.S. law. Instead, he seems focused on the requirement that employers affiliated with religious institutions include contraceptive coverage in their employee health insurance policies, although the cost would have to be covered by the insurer. [Emphasis added]

Healey is right as far as he goes, but he is being far too charitable to Gingrich. This isn't just about "religious liberty." If it were, the ban on coverage would extend to more than birth control pills. That's why I ran the Horsey cartoon at the top of this post.

This is about the social conservatives (including the Roman Catholic American Bishops and the Religious Reich) and their war on women's rights to control their own body. No contraception, no abortion. Men can have their Viagra or Cialis, because they are the bosses when it comes to sex. Women are just the receptacles, willing or not. Calling this a matter of "religious liberty" is a dodge, an outright lie.

The Democrats need to start pointing this out more forcefully. We don't need to have the true picture forced into such a dishonest and ugly frame. It doesn't fit.

For once it would be nice to see the Democrats take charge of an issue and not back down.

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