Michael Gerson in WaPo: Obama's Catholic Strategy in Shambles


Going after a faith group you need to win re-election is hardly smart politics:

The main victims of this assault [on Catholic religious liberty] are not bishops but the poor and vulnerable. USCCB-sponsored human trafficking programs, for example, provide employment assistance, legal services, child care and medical screening. But because case managers won't refer for abortions, HHS would rather see these programs shut down in favor of less effective alternatives. This form of anti-religious extremism counts casualties.

It is also politically incomprehensible. Obama's Catholic outreach is being revealed as a transparent ploy a year before he faces re-election. A portion of the Democratic coalition -- including civil libertarians and pro-choice activists -- has decided to attack and marginalize Catholic leaders and institutions. And HHS is actively siding against Catholic organizations.

"We are in a war," Sebelius told a recent pro-choice meeting. Opponents of the administration, she said, are trying to "roll back the last 50 years in progress women have made in comprehensive health care in America." This is no longer the "presumption of good faith." It has all the hallmarks of a vendetta.

How will the White House respond? More specifically, how will the Catholic chief of staff and America's first Catholic vice president respond? They gave up their own adherence to Catholic teaching on abortion long ago. But are they really prepared to betray their co-religionists who still hold these beliefs? -- Michael Gerson

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