'Contraception' distraction could be bitter pill for GOP
Our national debt, as of Saturday, was a record $15.42 trillion and rising.
The federal deficit is projected to eclipse $1.2 trillion for the fourth straight year. Before this reckless red-ink streak, our biggest deficit was less than half a trillion.
Iran's getting ever closer to a nuclear arsenal -- and Israel's getting ever closer to launching an air strike to prevent that.
Gas prices have more than doubled since Barack Obama became president and are bound to climb higher, especially if Israel hits Iran.
Those soaring energy coasts threaten to derail our budding economy comeback.
Some of our alleged Afghan allies, in a treacherous, murderous rage over Koran burning by U.S. troops, have killed six members of our military in the past two weeks despite our commander-in-chief's apology for that offense.
Under these harrowing circumstances, it's hard to conceive that a high-profile issue for the 2012 election season has become ...
If that's an issue at all, it should center on the Obama administration's unconstitutional order that Catholic schools, hospitals and charities pick up the insurance tab for full coverage -- no co-payments -- of birth control, sterilization and morning-after pills.
The president, after catching considerable grief for that edict, somehow kept a straight face on Feb. 10 while announcing an "accommodation" that required insurance companies, not religious institutions, to offer that free coverage -- as if the rates paid by those institutions wouldn't be hiked accordingly.
However, this issue isn't being fairly framed as a Democratic president's violation of the First Amendment. Instead, it's being twisted into a Republican attempt to deny women "access to contraception."
And what right-wing-radio star Rush Limbaugh said on his show Wednesday made it even tougher for conservatives to set the religious-freedom record straight.
"El Rushbo" offered this crude perspective on Georgetown University Law School student Sandra Fluke who has become a spokeswoman for the "access to contraception" cause: "What does it say about the college co-ed ... who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex."
For most American women, lots of whom use contraceptives (and lots of American men are glad they do), "slut" and "prostitute" are fighting words. For many Republicans, lots of whom lose elections due to the "gender gap," Limbaugh's ugly words pose a serious problem.
So do these weird words from Rick Santorum in an interview with a conservative blogger five months ago: "One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that's OK; contraception is OK. It's not OK. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."
Santorum has repeatedly pointed out that he has not tried to ban contraception. Yet why should that assurance be needed? And why does Santorum still have a shot at winning five of the 10 Super Tuesday states 48 hours from now?
Closer to home, why do state GOP lawmakers seem to place a higher priority on banning teen "sexting" than on fixing dangerously deteriorated roads and rescuing a retirement system that's sliding toward a bottom-line ditch?
True conservatives here and across the nation should focus much more on government's tough fiscal choices and much less on Americans' personal moral choices. Otherwise, the "limited government" pitch sails way outside.
Premature punditry to the contrary, Republicans have a strong chance of taking back the White House with Mitt Romney, who will be the party's presidential nominee.
No, women's "access to contraception" should not force religious institutions to violate their doctrines. But Romney's access to the 270 electoral votes he needs to oust Obama could be significantly obstructed if his party can't shake the "anti-women" label.
The "anti-science" brand that too many Republicans have earned by rejecting evolution via faith-based pandering is bad enough.
Biologists know better.
And Republicans should know better than to back a candidate who condemns contraception as "not OK."