PARKER: Big bird, BS and birth control



Culture wars eclipse issues, again

WASHINGTON -- We shouldn't be talking about this silliness -- Big Bird, "B.S.er," or a girl's "first time."

We should be talking about The Issues, we keep telling ourselves. But in the waning days of the presidential campaign, these are the issues -- binders full of cultural issues that continue to divide us and by which Barack Obama hopes to win re-election.

It is no accident that the war of competing economic theories has devolved into the same old culture war, beginning with the debate about the contraception mandate under the Affordable Care Act. Ever since, the Obama campaign has strategically tried to push the Republican Party and Mitt Romney into a corner by advancing the war on women narrative.

That Obama has had ample help from certain outspoken players (Missouri and Indiana Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, respectively, to name the most notorious) has only made Romney's challenges greater. But the war against women has always been a red herring.

Random comments by a couple of outliers provided wind for Obama's sails. Akin's remarks, that women don't get pregnant when "legitimately" raped, was just idiotic and immediately dismissed by Republican Party leadership, including Romney. Yet Mourdock's view, that a child conceived by rape is God's will, deserves some perspective.

Obviously, he wasn't endorsing rape. He apparently belongs to that sliver of pro-lifers who insist that even babies conceived of rape are worthy of protection. They, too, are God's children.

Although most Americans, including those who are enthusiastically pro-life, support exemptions for rape and incest, Mourdock's argument is not nonsensical. If life begins at conception, then one life is not worth less than another owing to the circumstances of creation. The embryo bears no blame.

Given this context, Mourdock's argument is logical.

But we bend logic as needed. We weigh pros and cons and make difficult choices. Thus, most would resolve Mourdock's Muddle as follows: Given the horror of rape and the consequences for the woman, we find for the woman. It is no good solution, certainly not for the gestating human, but it is acceptable to most. It is also certainly not a decision one should make for another.

Mourdock may have been indelicate in stating his position, but he is hardly a monster for believing that the definition of life, like the definition of rape, should not be parsed. As to Romney's choice to not comment, why would he? This is the ultimate no-win -- and the answer is meaningless except as a political point -- which perhaps explains the media's insistence on a response.

Romney's position on the subject is clear. He supports exceptions for rape and incest. He also said early in the primary season: "Contraception, it's working just fine. Just leave it alone."

So why are we still talking about it? This pseudo-debate is, as Joe Biden would put it, "malarkey." Just possibly, a child could recognize the "B.S.er" aspect to this non-issue, to borrow the phrasing of Obama during a recent Rolling Stone interview.

The contraception issue never would have come up but for Obama's decision to force the hand of the Catholic Church. By placing religious institutions in the position of having to provide health insurance to pay for contraception as well as sterilization, which, agree or not, are against church teaching, Obama created the conversation.

Some church leaders support Obama's position, but not the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Nor do many religious institutions, including University of Notre Dame, that have sued the Obama administration on First Amendment grounds.

Obama reasoned correctly that he had the majority with him, especially among women and youth, for many of whom these debates seem antiquated to not-applicable. Hence, a new Obama ad by HBO "Girls" creator and star Lena Dunham in which she compares voting for the first time (for a man who understands women) to, you know, "doing it" for the first time. It's ... what it is: A message to young women that losing one's virginity is top of the bucket list, but first you gotta vote for the president who will give you free contraception.

The same ol' culture wars. But, of course, women have had access to birth control for decades and no one is trying to take it away. Anyone who suggests otherwise may have been spending too much time with Big Bird.

Email nationally syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker at kathleenparker@washpost.com. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/kathleenparker.


A_Gwinnett_Atheist 2 years, 9 months ago

Kathleen, your attempt to minimize the efforts of the Republican party to take away the rights of women demonstrates a lack of understanding of the possible consequences. Romney has sworn to cut all funding to Planned Parenthood and do everything in his power to stop abortions. These same Taliban like forces have assassinated doctors and bombed women's clinics. Many medical schools no longer teach safe methods of abortions. All these efforts have made it more difficult for women that are raped to get proper medical care and pregnancy prevention steps. Republicans have already managed to get too many anti abortion judges in the Supreme Court. No one should be allowed to force their religious beliefs on another. Not me nor Notre Dame. I am morally opposed to habits such as smoking that have no health benefits and considerable health costs and yet my insurance dollars still pay for those that choose to ignore the consequences and continue to smoke. Romney has shifted his positions on almost every area to match that of the current administration. If he is truthful, that would mean our considerations should fall to which candidate wants to restrict freedoms and which one wants to protect our freedoms. If he is not truthful, then he cannot be trusted as our president.


kmsimpson 2 years, 8 months ago

I find it hilarious that you are discussing lack of truth concerning Romney considering the Liar in Chief we have now.

  1. Romney does not consider contraception and abortion to be major issues at the moment. Although I have personal views that differ from his concerning contraception and abortion, I agree wholeheartedly that those are side issues and we have much more important issues at hand.

  2. Many of us have no problem with contraception and abortion, we truly do not want to have to pay for someone else's access. If they want those things, they can do the same thing we have through history and earn the money for those things. Birth control pills are about $20 a month tops, a lot cheaper than the cost of child, so pay for it out of pocket. Or use condoms. Or, heaven forbid, take responsibility and don't do it in the first place.

  3. We fought for years to have rights over our bodies. In order to have rights, we must also accept the responsibilities that accompany that. Those responsibilities include not forcing others to pay for things we desire, and yes, both contraception and abortion are wants, not needs.

  4. Right now, we have a Commander in Chief that has lied about more things than can be counted; Fast & Furious, Benghazi, Solyndra just to name a few of the highlights of his administration. Keep in mind that I haven't even started on things like the Secret Service Prostitution scandal, or the GSA Las Vegas boondoggle, or several others. he said he would have the most transparent administration in history. Apparently, he was not including things like these or even his college transcripts in that comment.

And you think CONTRACEPTION is even an issue??? Seriously???


Say_that_again 2 years, 8 months ago

You have obviously missed several important facts: Romney has said he would sign a person-hood bill if congress passed it. Everyone agrees that this would stop all abortions and most forms of birth control. He has said he would seek out anti abortion judges for supreme court appointees. The Republican Platform includes the strongest worded support for a person-hood bill and anti-abortion. Did you check out the link that I gave in response below? This is the kind of extremism found in the republican party. They prefer wasting time passing legislation taking away women's rights than dealing with the economy. For too many republicans, it is the only issue. Romney wants to declare his anti abortion position enough so these voters will vote for him regardless of his lack of qualifications and outlandish tax policy but wants to minimize his position for the gullible that believe allowing the wealthy to pay less taxes will help the economy. With Romney's stated tax plan, my taxes would drop; but I understand the damage this would bring to the economy and reverse the progress made by Obama with a republican congressmen blocking his efforts. Note Obama is a big favorite in Michigan.


Jan 2 years, 9 months ago

The obsession does not come from the left. The Republican controlled house has voted on abortions over a dozen times in the last 18 months: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/08/22/us/politics/Abortion-Votes-in-the-House.html They have demonstrated more interest in restricting women's rights than fixing the economy. Republicans have publicly made ridiculous statements about "legitimate rape" and "a pregnancy from rape is a gift of God". Forcing a woman to participate against her will is rape. This includes forcing her to carry an unwanted child. I would like to reduce the number of abortions but forcing women to carry a child is not the correct approach. Proper education and availability of birth control has been demonstrated to work. Lack of education is exemplified by such things as the "legitimate rape" explanation of Tod Akin. It is appropriate for the Democrats to bring these to the attention of the voters and let them decide who can be trusted to preserve our freedoms.


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