Helene Cooper and Laurie Goldstein of the Ministry of Truth pick up the pom-poms to cover the contraception controversy and assure their readers of two points - Obama is caving in to the Religious Left, not the dreaded Religious Right; and none of this would have happened if Obama had been in charge.
WASHINGTON — For the White House, the decision announced Friday to soften a rule requiring religious-affiliated organizations to pay for insurance plans that offer free birth control was never really driven by a desire to mollify Roman Catholic bishops, who were strongly opposed to the plan.
Rather, the fight was for Sister Carol Keehan — head of an influential Catholic hospital group, who had supported President Obama’s health care law — and Catholic allies of the White House seen as the religious left. Sister Keehan had told the White House that the new rule, part of the health care law, went too far.
Well, that's OK then. As long as he's not cravenly caving to righties.
Our intrepid reporters also deliver the spin of the aides who have it in for HHS Secretary Sebelius. Readers at home can play "Where's Barack?"
Meeting with his top advisers in the Oval Office last week amid rising anger from Catholic Democrats, liberal columnists and left-leaning religious leaders — a fed-up Mr. Obama issued an order meant for Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services. Ms. Sebelius and agency lawyers had initially told the president they needed a year to work out a compromise that had seemed obvious to some in the administration from the start: make the new rule more like that offered by the State of Hawaii, where employees of religiously affiliated institutions obtained contraceptives through a side benefit offered by insurance companies.
But in difficult internal negotiations, a group of advisers had bested Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and others and sold the president on a stricter rule. Now the political furor surrounding it was threatening to consume signs of economic improvement giving a boost to the White House and put the Obama re-election campaign on the defensive.
Time was up, Mr. Obama told his advisers, according to officials in the meeting. Ms. Sebelius, a Catholic who, along with the president’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes, had pushed hard for the new rule, was not there, but the message came through: Figure out a way to make something like the Hawaii model work.
Oooh, she wasn't even in the meeting when she got her come-uppance? Not good. But there's more about how our fed-up President finally took charge:
At the White House, the internal debate had raged since last fall, when administration officials started looking at how to put the rule into practice. All agreed early on that churches would be exempt. The question revolved around colleges, charities and other religiously affiliated institutions that employed people of different faiths.
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York met with Mr. Obama and argued in favor of a broad exemption. Shortly after, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, and other proponents of the rule began a series of meetings with officials to argue against an exemption for religiously affiliated institutions.
Throughout that debate, administration officials said, Mr. Obama pushed hard for a version of the Hawaii rule. But Ms. Sebelius and others at the Department of Health and Human Services said it would take time to resolve whether the administration could emulate that approach. In the end, with the State of the Union address imminent and time passing to work out the new rules governing the carrying out of the health care law, the administration announced on Jan. 20 that religious-affiliated institutions — but not churches — would have to offer the insurance.
“All hell broke loose,” one administration official said, leading to Mr. Obama’s sharp orders in the Oval Office last week.
It's a shame our wise and wonderful President couldn't carry the day last fall. Didn't he have any allies inside the White House?
What had not been anticipated enough, despite warnings from Mr. Biden; the former chief of staff William Daley; Mr. Biden’s chief of staff, Bruce Reed; and the deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough, administration officials said, was that allies would be furious, too.
That's all? No wonder. And no worries - he got Bin Laden!
AN ANSWER FOR MICKEY: A few days back Mickey Kaus had this question:
What does he do all day? Are you impressed with the image of Obama-at-work left by Ryan Lizza’s “Obama Memos” piece in the New Yorker? The President’s decision-making method–at least as described in the piece–seems to consist mainly of checking boxes on memos his aides have written for him...