Sunday, February 12, 2012

Forget the Republicans – President Obama is Emerging as the Biggest Threat to the Re-Election of Barack Obama

President Obama Seems to Be Doing Everything in His Power to Prevent Mr. Obama from Having a Second Term

The controversy over requiring health insurance plans to cover contraceptive services at no cost to the recipient is a manufactured controversy.  There had been no groundswell of opposition to the policy by the public, for the simple reason that there is no opposition to the policy from a large majority of the public.  Access to family planning for Americans is supported by Americans.  It is opposed by some religious leaders as is their right and the issue is exploited by craven polititicians but the public is supportive.

So political and religious leaders  seized an opportunity to score political points at the expense of religious freedom and national unity, and they have been aided by a more than willing press.  The press continued to report the story because it is in the interests of the press to report a story even where none exists.  In this case they see their job as being one to sell news, create a news story if necessary and then to report it.  At no time did they give even partial, much less equal reporting to the President's supporters' position.  But the media is not the major problem here.

When President Obama made the decision to require health insurance to cover contraception at no cost to the insured, he did so with full knowledge that the policy would be controversial.  He reached the right conclusion based on that rarest of all factors in government decision making, the factor being it was the right thing to do.  Having made that decision, the right thing to do politically was to stay with it or to make the change in form but not substance, which he consequently did.  But the entire issue should never has occcured in the first place.
That Mr. Obama has presented a "work around" which is generally acceptable and no real change in policy does not help.  In fact, it raises the question of why couldn't he have done what he now proposes in the first place.  It would have avoided the controversy which would have benefited both his Presidency and the country.  While he gets credit for identifying an adjustment that preserves the policy goal, the fact that he did not take that position initially demonstrates just how out of touch politically the President is.

The political damage done to Mr. Obama by the issue of requiring contraception in health care plans is huge, not on the issue itself but by the appearance that he is inept with respect to the politics of issues.   Even though he apparently solved the problem in a way that still makes family planning health care services free, Mr. OBama's supporters will (again) be discouraged, and feel they cannot count on this President to effectively communicate what he is doing and whyhe is doing it.
The one saving grace for the President is that his opponents do not know when to accept victory.  Instead of taking a winning bow, they may push the issue long after it has lost its effectiveness and in so doing save Mr. Obama from himself.  Some religious leaders have already rejected the compromise Mr. Obama came out with.  This is not unexpected, in fact it is required.  If a person's position is that family planning is immoral and a sin, then that person has to try to use government to enforce the policy of preventing family planning.  That is the real aim of religious leaders, as it should be since they are opposing what they see as immorality. 

But such a position is an over-reach by those leaders.  The American public may not have liked the fact that the government appeared to be imposing on religion, but they dislike even more the imposition of religion on them, particularly with  family planning which is something the public feels is private and outside the purview of government.  In fact it is hard to understand why even Conservatives have not taken the position that contraception decisions belong to the individual, and are outside the scope of government and religion.

To the extent that religious leaders and Conservative politicians push the issue now that it has been adjusted by the President, they hurt their cause.  Tubal ligation, for example,  is regarded by most persons as  just a medical procedure to prevent a woman from having unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.  It is not, to a large majority of the population a mortal sin and to work to prevent women from having such a procedure on religious grounds is simply offensive to many people.   Mr. Obama may be inept, but in many cases he is saved by the greater ineptness of his opponents.

Ultimately though the failure of this President to understand basic politics may be a fatal flaw.  If Mr. Obama loses in the fall he will know who to blame, he will see that person in the mirror every morning when he gets up.

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