Contraception controversy—just a, ahem, fluke?
…Highlights a real issue
I’ll admit it: Until Rush Limbaugh’s unprovoked rant against an unknown law student testifying before Congress a few weeks ago, I wasn’t entirely sure the guy was even on the air anymore. Now, of course, talk radio’s blowhard in chief has barged his way back into my life and onto everyone’s Twitter feed, no doubt delighting his still-considerable fan base even if he’s lost some sponsors.
Yet, look who else has come out ahead: Sandra Fluke has become a 15-minute folk heroine for the reproductive-rights crowd; the Obama administration gets to bask in righteous indignation by defending her virtue, which surely beats discussing exit strategies for Afghanistan, and Democratic candidates have a new angle for stirring up their base—this purportedly new “Republican war on women.”
All that remains is for Fluke to ink her book deal.
So, by the time she stopped off in Denver the other day to sit in on a panel called, “The Affordable Care Act Two Years In: A Discussion on Women’s Health”—she’s a health-care expert now, you see—the whole thing was starting to smell stale.
Not just her publicity tour or her canned talking points but also the outrage itself. It all seemed about as spontaneous and authentic as a state of the union address.
Rush’s sordid stunt really has paid off—for him, the prez, groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood and assorted others who’ve joined the parade of opportunists. Come to think of it, that makes them all “prostitutes,” no?
Once again Mal has discovered that politics can be disingenuous, even—gasp—cynical. He neglected to mention how much abortion-rights groups will make off of all those fundraising letters to their donors. I’m just surprised he didn’t accuse the blowhard in chief of orchestrating the whole brouhaha with the commander in chief over a couple of stogies and a bottle of scotch.
So, I suppose it’s once again my turn to point out that effective politics is all about exploiting controversies and whipping up hysteria—but that doesn’t mean the issues necessarily lack substance. Fluke raised an important point that helps voters make a real choice. Whether she was an ingénue or a Democratic Party plant hoping to set up a trip wire is beside the point. And if she lands a book deal, more power to her.
We are being asked as an electorate to decide not only whether health plans should be required to cover contraception—granted, most already do—but also whether a Catholic university such as Fluke’s has a responsibility to provide such coverage to its students, many of whom don’t share that faith’s tenets against prescription birth control.
However the public leans on that issue—and polls already abound on the subject—we have to acknowledge that the debate has now been recast in boldface. Sure, the fans of Obamacare have met Rush’s bloviating with self-interested hyperventilating of their own. That’s how our system works, and I’m glad we’re now all paying attention.
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