Laurie Goodstein of The Ministry of Truth explains that Obama's "compromise" on contraception has split his critics. Only deep in the story do we find a candle flickering for the sort of compromise we still believe will be forthcoming on the matter of self-insured institutions:
A moment for the pom-poms:
Obama Shift on Providing Contraception Splits Critics
The near-unified front led by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops to oppose a mandate for employers to cover birth control has now crumbled amid the compromise plan that the Obama administration offered last week to accommodate religious institutions.
The buried news is the non-split among the Catholics on a critical point (my emphasis):
After three weeks of protest that united the bishops with many priests, nuns and prominent Catholic laypeople from the political right and left, the Obama administration announced what it called a compromise on Friday. It said that the Catholic institutions would not have to pay for the birth control coverage or refer their employees to it, but that it would all be covered directly by the insurance companies.
The contrast in responses from Catholic organizations has been more a matter of tone than content. They are all in agreement that certain issues still need to be worked out, like what to do about Catholic institutions that are “self-insured,” meaning that they act as both the insurer and the employer.
Hello! The self-insurance escape hatch is what allowed a number of large Catholic institutions to escape strict state contraception mandates in, for example, California and New York. If even Obama's ostensible allies think the new rules need to show flexibility for the self-insured, then where are we? Well, we are in need of further accomodation. And having demonstrated the importance of liberal Catholics to his PR strategy, Obama can hardly hang them out to dry now.
So - does Obama listen to the traditionalist Cathoic leaders scream from now until November and then accomadate them? Does he endure their screaming until November and then toss his liberal Catholic allies under the bus?
Or does he somewhat promptly admit that his "insurance companies will provide it for free" fantasy simply makes no sense when there is no insurance company, and extend the exemption?
This is far from over.
FURTHER COMPLICATIONS: The Supreme Court may gut ObamaCare in June, rendering this controversy moot; maybe stalling until then makes sense.
Of course, by then Dem activists may have gotten gay marriage written into the Democratic Party platform, which may oblige Obama to evolve on that issue sooner than he would prefer. Or can Obama morph "Say I Do" into "Say I Do Prefer To Pretend To Keep Thinking It Over"? Well, if Obama has to jump on the gay marriage bandwagon now rather than after the election, perhaps a broader contraception exemption will balance the angst felt by the two sides.