Armando's front page diary this afternoon cites a January 29 op-ed in which E.J. Dionne discussed the Obama Administration's approach to mandatory contraception coverage as part of the HHS rule on the Affordable Care Act. The diary, titled, "E.J. Dionne breaks faith with progressive values," says the following in the second paragraph:
Before the president's announcement, the past week had provided us the spectacle of ostensibly "progressive" Catholic men pontificating (pun intended) on how it was wrong of the Obama Administration to enact public policy supported by science and common sense because some leaders of certain religions object to the requirement that their religions must comply with the law and the public policy of the government.Not only does Armando create a straw man of Dionne, but he uses outdated two-week-old op-eds to make his point.
More after the jump.
I hadn't read Dionne's January 29 editorial, so I followed the link over to WaPo to read the whole thing. Armando's diary quotes Dionne thusly:
Speaking as a Catholic, I wish the Church would be more open on the contraception question. But speaking as an American liberal who believes that religious pluralism imposes certain obligations on government, I think the Church’s leaders had a right to ask for broader relief from a contraception mandate that would require it to act against its own teachings. The administration should have done more to balance the competing liberty interests here.Armando doesn't quote Dionne saying this:
Obama was also willing to annoy some in his liberal base during the battle for the health-care bill by making sure that Catholic institutions do not have to perform or pay for abortions. Rather than praising him for this, the bishops and the Catholic right invented the idea that the health law covers abortion.and this, from the paragraph immediately preceding the one quoted by Armando:
As a general matter, it made perfect sense to cover contraception. Many see doing so as protecting women’s rights, and expanded contraception coverage will likely reduce the number of abortions. While the Catholic Church formally opposes contraception, this teaching is widely ignored by the faithful. One does not see many Catholic families of six or 10 or twelve that were quite common in the 1950s. Contraception might have something to do with this.Dionne also said the following:
Unfortunately, the administration decided it lacked authority to implement a Hawaii-style solution. The Obama team should not have given up so easily, especially after it floated a version of this compromise with some Catholic service providers who thought it workable. Obama would do well to revisit his decision on the Hawaii compromise.And this, in fact, is exactly where the Obama administration ended up. What we have, in the end, is a well-played game of Kabuki theatre in which the Obama administration played out the string to demonstrate why the policy was created in the way that it was. And we've had a series of great news days as Republicans hyperventilate about allowing women to take the pill or use Plan B.
And here's Dionne on Friday:
Nonetheless, Obama’s move is a welcome step away from a religious battle that neither he nor the country needed. There were legitimate liberty interests on both sides of this debate, as he said today. The administration’s new rule, unlike its initial decision, honors that fact. It is an important step.Dionne also noted, with post-scripts to his own op-ed, that conservatives are moving further and further into extreme positions of opposition that run counter to common sense and American public opinion:
My sense is that there is division among the Bishops, and some awareness, as Father Tom Reese of the Woodstock Center noted, that while the cause of religious liberty is broadly unifying, both inside the Catholic Church and beyond, opposition to contraception is not.While Catholic bishops hold a tremendous amount of clout within the Catholic hierarchy and tradition, they have exactly the same number of votes as Nancy Pelosi or E.J. Dionne or John Kerry - or any Catholic voter. And as the bishops and most Catholics are fully aware, the bishops have little to no power over private sexual and medical decisions that women make. The frustration and anger we're seeing from conservatives is directly proportional to their powerlessness to change the behavior of others.
Because that's how conservatives roll.
We can expect Dionne to continue writing about this stuff in the weeks to come. It should be obvious to everyone that Dionne is speaking as a moderate Catholic male who works for a think tank. He doesn't speak for the Democratic Party. He doesn't speak for anyone other than himself.