Remember When Obama Championed Religious Liberty?
Say what one will about vice-president Joe Biden, but in the internal debate over the White House's contraception mandate, he argued that the real issue in play was not contraceptives, sterilization, or abortion-inducing drugs, but religious liberty.
Although Obama had championed religious liberty in the past -- and more on that in a minute -- he wasn't listening this time. He apparently found the specious polling numbers Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards brought to the table more persuasive.
What Richards was doing at that table did not seem to interest ABC's Jake Tapper who wrote one of the more insightful pieces on the administration's deliberation process. It should have. In the way of parallel, imagine how interested the media would have been if George Bush had invited the Koch Brothers to the White House to help sort out the details of a controversial new energy policy that would benefit their business.
Falling victim to the creeping Newspeak overtaking the media, Tapper also failed to mention either sterilization or abortifacients, the two components of the ObamaCare mandate that most riled the Catholic bishops.
Even more fluent in Newspeak, Jodi Kantor of the New York Times dedicates two pages in her new book The Obamas to the Ground Zero mosque controversy without using the word "mosque."
As Kantor tells the story, President Obama was hosting a dinner for Muslim Americans to honor Ramadan in August 2010 when he waded into the controversy against the advice of his staff. "Muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country," Obama argued, and that included the right to build a "place of worship" on private property. Apparently, even the president could not bring himself to say "mosque."
The president fumed at the public reaction, which was decidedly not favorable. To clarify his position, Obama told the press he had not commented on the merit of the project but rather "on the right people have that dates back to our founding." That right was religious liberty. "That's what our country is about."
"The fact is this is not about religious liberty," Newt Gingrich countered accurately. Gingrich called the proposed mosque a symbol of Muslim "triumphalism."
New York Rep. Peter King framed the debate accurately. "President Obama is wrong," he said. "It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero."
When the story line emerged that the president seemed to be backtracking, Obama groused even more about the media. "Did they not understand," Kantor paraphrases Obama, "that constitutional protection extended even to unpopular projects."
"In this country we treat everybody equally," Obama insisted. Yes, all religions are equal in Obamaland, but some religions are obviously more equal than others.