First the Obama administration managed to alienate both its liberal supporters and its religious critics by pushing and then pulling back its HHS contraception mandate. Now the White House has succeeded in hitting the political sour spot yet again by producing a compromise designed to placate the Catholic bishops…without consulting the Catholic bishops. Reports the Times:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — which has led the opposition to the plan — said in a statement late Friday that the solution offered by the White House to quell a political furor was “unacceptable and must be corrected” because it still infringed on the religious liberty and conscience of Catholics. . . .
Administration officials said the White House had never expected to get the bishops’ support, given their absolute opposition to contraception, and was surprised when the initial statement of the bishops conference on Friday was noncommittal and went so far as to call the president’s modification a step in the right direction.
This isn’t political rocket science. Given the bishops’ openness on the issue, all the administration had to do was sit down with the conference and work out a mutually agreeable compromise before making the first announcement about it—let alone the second. Is this a deliberate choice of polarizing tactics to solidify the base, or simple ineptitude and arrogance? Via Meadia is waiting for more light.