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Joe Scarborough Compares Obama Contraceptive Mandate to Federal Govt. Mandating Southern Baptist Female Deacons

“… I think women should be deacons as well as men. …But if the federal government, if the Justice Department offers a mandate ordering Southern Baptists to make women deacons, I would be the first to say get the hell out of our business.” – Joe Scarborough (9 February)

That quote tells you all you need to know about this debate.

Scarborough’s quote above is a good example of the disingenuous nature of the argument being made by religious conservatives. It is one of the most preposterous falsehoods said yet. That Joe Scarborough chose to say it and then defend it reveals how low Republicans will go to make a religious point even if it’s false.

If the feds tried to tell the Episcopal Church they couldn’t be spiritually feminist, standing up against the misogyny in other churches that bothers no one, I’d be the first to say get the hell out of our business.

The Obama administration has let this play out all week and it will conclude tomorrow with the backdrop of the CPAC conference, when Santorum, Romney and Gingrich give their speeches.

“It’s becoming a thorny problem for the White House and it appears to only be getting worse,” said one Democratic strategist. “The politically astute move would be to modify this thing, and quick.” Asked if the administration should shift course, a former senior administration official said, “I don’t see how they couldn’t. It’s pretty bad.” – The Hill

Pretty bad? Anyone supporting the decision was put in the position of having not only to do White House education on the issue and the constitutionality of it, but damage control on male “60-something pundits” blowing a gasket across cable.

Nicely played, team Obama. It’s political malpractice of the first order. Somewhere Rahm Emanuel is shaking his head.

Pres. Obama also was warned what was coming, which has been reported by Bloomberg, who broke the tick tock, then Jake Tapper and others following.

This is also no longer about contraception, abortion or even a wider rule on religious exclusion. It’s also become about the Affordable Care Act and the allies Pres. Obama had by his side who now feel betrayed. That’s the thumb on the scale as we count down to the compromise.

TPM has a classic headline, with a picture of Pres. Obama that’s unintentionally priceless: Will Dems Shoot Themselves In The Foot On Contraception? I can only assume they’re being ironic or rhetorical.

V.P. Joe Biden and Bill Daley were among the concerned Catholics inside the White House that warned Pres. Obama about what has come to pass this week. I’ve not written about the roll-out, because anyone who thinks this was going to be easy any way the Administration did it hasn’t been paying attention to Republicans lately. Chuck Todd and Mark Halperin opined today that Pres. Obama needs to make the case, which shows you how little the elite news media knows about him. The fact that we haven’t seen Pres. Obama, which I never expected we would on something this electric, is that he has no intention of putting his personal capital behind Administration policy that is in the works of being reversed.

Therein lies the entire issue with Pres. Obama’s presidency. Not shoring up allies in Congress, then using pins and tape at the end of a process to get a second or third version of the legislation you want over the finished line. He’s got no allies, except women in Congress who remain a minority. I have no idea how Obama and his team, especially Valeria Jarrett, concluded he could announce something so sweeping, politically important, as well as a boon to to women, especially hourly wage employees, without knowing who had his back, but also a political strategy to lay it out.

This policy required great theater. Women ready to announce it, religious groups among them, Democratic senators and representatives standing ready to hit the airwaves for a policy they supported.

The stories are ricocheting now, as Friday looms and the Sunday shows approach, which will certainly feature a cavalcade of criticism, even as something is frantically being cobbled together. A conclusion needs to be announced so on Sunday everyone can nod their heads, criticize the initial decision, then smile approvingly that Pres. Obama’s compromise isn’t caving to pressures from the right. It never is, right?

That the Susan G. Komen foundation figured out how to right a PR disaster faster than the Obama White House is embarrassing.

TM NOTE: This column inspired Joe Scarborough to unleash an unhinged DM rant in my direction, which is detailed in my column “Joe Scarborough’s Weird DM Rant Invades My Weekend,” which made the rounds in a tweet heard round Twitterworld.

TM NOTE: The title of this column has been changed.

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31 Responses to Joe Scarborough Compares Obama Contraceptive Mandate to Federal Govt. Mandating Southern Baptist Female Deacons

  1. Art Pronin February 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    the cave in cometh!

    • Taylor Marsh February 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

      Oh. Oh. But it’s not a cave in, Art, don’t you get it? ;-)

      …and people wonder why there is such cynicism in politics.

      You know, Art, Lyndon Johnson would never have been hung out like this.  Neither would a certain southern man from Arkansas.

      • Art Pronin February 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

        yep. we are screwed again!

      • Cujo359 February 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

        Past is certainly prologue here. Obama has never stuck his neck out on the issue of reproductive rights. I feel safe in predicting that he won’t this time, either. We’re seeing all the signs.

      • RAJensen February 10, 2012 at 8:00 am #

        TM NOTE: This comment has been deleted because it is off topic and the user has been warned repeatedly.

    • RAJensen February 10, 2012 at 7:54 am #


      You would have been the first to whine  that FDR ‘caved’ in to southern Jim Crow Senators when the original social security act was written to to exclude African Americans in order to get the Jim Crow Democratic Senators to vote for the S.S. Act of 1935. The 1935 legislation excluded from participation domestic workers , agricultural workers even Pullman porters. You would have been the first to ‘occupy’ FDR’s White House protesting his ‘caving’ in to the Jim Crow Democratic Senators. Instead of taking your ball home and crawling into a fetal position, try working to elect Democratic Senators without ties to the insurance industry of the pharmaceutical industry who blocked any public option as part of the ACA.

  2. Cujo359 February 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    From the TPM article:

    Rep. John Larson (CT), a member of the House Democratic leadership with 100% voting score from NARAL, released a letter Wednesday in which he also split with the White House on the contraception rules.

    I added that emphasis, of course. The reason I’ve added it is why I keep hammering on the issue of how useless these so-called progressive pressure groups really are. NARAL will probably continue to give this guy a perfect score. He will suffer no political consequences for not doing what he really should be doing if he’s pro-choice.

    EDIT: I should add that Joe Scarborough has provided a wonderful example of false equivalence. If the Southern Baptists were using taxpayer money to fund their religious operation, then the federal government can damn well tell them to have female deacons, or else give the money back.

    • 70s progressive February 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

      As a constituent in his district I have sent a letter indicating I will seriously consider another candidate because he now represents the Vatican’s interest and not the constituent of his district. His district has one of the largest income disparities in the country, the city of Hartford compared to the surrounding suburbs. If the poor women working for these institutions have to chose birth control over food for the existing families, what do you think they will chose?

  3. Joyce Arnold February 9, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    It isn’t even as if anything about this whole “religious right” spinning is anything remotely new, and yet it keeps working.

  4. rose0red February 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Somewhere Rahm Emanuel is shaking his head.

    Sadly, I think Mr. Emanuel would probably come down on the side of perceived political expedience and compromise. Though having said that, once the decision came down I’d like to think he’d come out with all guns, words, and birds a-blazing to get her done rather than telegraph defeat the way Axelrod did. Though I might be wrong and I guess it’s moot anyway.

    I’ve been flipping out about MSNBC anchors letting the right define the debate, but really this IS a messaging failure for the administration. Why surrogates haven’t been arguing the points better is beyond me. Seems to me that invoking Komen and the social justice themes in Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast comments would be a good idea. Maybe it would backfire, what do I know- I’d last about five minutes in politics. What I do know is that when it comes to domestic and social issues, the Obama administration minces on tiptoes when it should stride wide with confidence.

    I just posted elsewhere my theory that part of the GOP motivation to blow up this issue has to do with the National Prayer Breakfast and their self-declared monopoly on Christian values. When Obama spoke with sincerity and conviction about his Christian faith and how it informs his worldview he reminded the country that there is a Christian tradition on the left- especially where civil rights and social justice are concerned.

    The right wing flipped out for a reason. I think it was very, VERY threatening to the right-wing establishment. They started looking for the next opportunity to reassert themselves in the news cycle as the Official Christian Political Party (TM). Obama could fight this very successfully with the same sincere conviction he showed at the NPB but he has to do so boldly, exuding tremendous confidence- the kind of confidence we saw during the 2008 campaign when he talked about changing Washington. He can’t change the way Washington works and he can’t change the way Republicans in congress attempt to stonewall his every move. What he CAN do is change the way the media and the public perceive Democrats and the left… but only if he displays the kind of audacity in practice that we’ve seen in his words.

    • Taylor Marsh February 9, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

      Sadly, I think Mr. Emanuel would probably come down on the side of perceived political expedience and compromise. 

      I’m no fan of Emanuel’s, who argued against health care commitment that ended in such a mess & a terrible roll out calendar

      But my point was that he’d have lined up Congress behind the President or proved to him he could not afford to get so far out w/o a campaign to sell it at the same time.

      It’s been amateur hour over there this week, not that it isn’t often.

      Pres. Obama’s getting away with it because there’s not a politician in sight who can match the moment with any competency at all.

  5. Sandmann February 9, 2012 at 8:54 pm #


  6. Uh-oh February 9, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    All of these idiotic dem strategists should be fired and run out of town! How can you possibly have a HUGE majority of the people on your side and STILL cave???? It just boggles the mind. Obama and the dems are so effing worthless!

    • secularhumanizinevoluter February 10, 2012 at 5:32 am #

      “How can you possibly have a HUGE majority of the people on your side and STILL cave????”

      It’s a gift…a true gift. I mean, SOME folks would screw up and actually allow SOME kind of success to happen right? Not this crew…a gift!

  7. fairmindedindependent February 9, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    I knew this sh*tstrom was coming most of us did, because the right will use anything to score points with a few voters. I really hope President Obama stays firm on his decision, but history tells us different.  The Democrats have a way of caving to Republicans and lets the conservatives spin and control a issue or message. You would think the dems would have learned by now !!!

  8. Art Pronin February 9, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    thi is sooo damned pathetic.

  9. Mutaman February 9, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Maybe its just me, but it seems like every time Obama does something dumb, the name Valeria Jarrett keeps popping up.

    • guyski February 10, 2012 at 7:24 am #

      A very good point. It’s kind of surprising that the media hasn’t looked at Valeria Jarrett a little more. By that, I don’t mean nothing sinister here, but there has always been plenty of talk about presidents advisors.

  10. fangio February 9, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    If you read Lizza’s New Yorker piece,  “  The Obama Memos , “  you will see that he is incapable of changing.  In memo after memo his advisors  tell him he can’t have what he wants and he dutifully checks the box that shows his capitulation.  Almost without fail he will walk away from what he wanted with nary a whimper.  Occasionally he will ask for a second opinion,  sometimes he checks the box that says  “  let’s talk,  “  but in the end he takes the lessor of two evils.  Most revealing is a sample letter from a constituent.  The woman,  named Ginger,  tells him that her husband,  who works for Nasa on the Ares project will soon be laid off because Obama cancelled the program.  She goes on to lament the spending of billions on two wars while investing barely anything in research.  Most telling,  she says she is a Republican but voted for him because he reminded her of JFK and MLK.  She says she is very disappointed in him and will not vote for him again.  In the margin of the letter he instructed his aides to draft a letter to her that focused on her husbands career.   At least Reagan wrote his own letters. Lizza’s conclusion seems to be that Obama was just facing political reality.  I see a craven politician and nothing more.  There is something wrong with the man and it cannot be fixed;  as Popeye said,  “  I yam what I yam. “

    • Taylor Marsh February 10, 2012 at 12:28 am #

      A lot of interesting writing lately about Pres. Obama… and the Obamas, as well.

  11. TPAZ February 9, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    If President Obama were a poker player, he could double-down by suggesting a public option will be created for employees of employers who are uncomfortable or unwilling to offer health coverage with this provision. Problem solved.

  12. casualobserver February 10, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    And if the truth be told, it was truly a waste of time.

    I employ a fair number of people and provide a subsidized health plan. Every year, I have the insurance consultant play around with employee premium share, co-pays and deductibles. If this provision stands, I will simply estimate what the loss of co-pay and/or deductible will be and build it into the employee paid premium figure.

    My guess is the loss of co-pay and deductible will be about $20 per employee per year or about 76 cents a pay period.

    Birth control females will get a small victory in that the additional premium will be partially absorbed by non-birth control using employees.

    I will absorb it only if employment supply and demand causes me to hold the line on employee premium increases, but given the meployment market and that, all other things being equal, it will be pretty easy to raise the employee share for such a small amount.

    • Taylor Marsh February 10, 2012 at 9:55 am #

      Like so many, you’re missing the important issue, which is to provide birth control free of charge for people who don’t currently have access.  Paying as much as $60/month for birth control is prohibitive or hourly workers and poorer women.  That’s important.

      • ladywalker68 February 10, 2012 at 10:14 am #

        Unfortunately Taylor, there are a whole bunch of people out there who do give a horse’s hind patooty about low income people, especially if they are women. I think they do get the point. What they don’t understand is how this is “their” problem because they are so much more pious, and better than everyone else, they feel they have a God given right to crush everybody else.

        • Taylor Marsh February 10, 2012 at 10:32 am #

          Oh, I understand this deeply.  I write about the religious aspect of birth control in my book in great detail.  I take on the very religious argument, which Politico barely touches today, body versus the soul.  I’ve been involved in religious discussions all of my feminist life.  I’m very comfortable in my beliefs, as well as what the male hierarchy in religious institutions, well beyond the Catholic Church, believe about their own power & importance over others.

          I also know that Catholic charities provide a strong safety net for the poor. However, what they could do around the world to help the poor through providing birth control makes them guilty of unspeakable moral crimes against women who are kept in bondage because Catholic missionaries cannot dispense birth control to relieve women’s slavery in a modern era when the wonderful event of pregnancy can be planned.

          • ladywalker68 February 10, 2012 at 11:09 am #

            Taylor, by the way, I downloaded your book for the Nook, but I really need to get a “real book” version of it to finish. I do much better with “real books!”  LOL!

            You know, I thank God everyday that I was not born into a family that practices Catholicism, and that my late mother, God rest her soul, was progressive and dumped her Evangelical church. She believed in God, but in any religion. Even though we had our differences, this is one area where we both agreed. I am aware that many religions do good in the world, That said, they have no place in politics.

      • secularhumanizinevoluter February 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

        “Like so many, you’re missing the important issue,”

        While looking hard for a tree they will wander through a forrest.

        • Cujo359 February 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

          This is an example of why I say that all economics is local. The employer sees this as a smallish expense he can pass on to his employees. The employees who won’t need birth control see it as a few more bucks out of their paychecks each year. Real economists will see this as a policy that will prevent unwanted pregnancy and lower crime a little. But the clerical worker who needs it will see it as a godsend.

          To me, the small expense I’d have to put up with as either an employer or a non-reproductive employee is worth it, because someone who really needs a service can now get it.

          • secularhumanizinevoluter February 10, 2012 at 5:12 pm #


  13. tm123 February 10, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    “Paying as much as $60/month for birth control is prohibitive for hourly workers and poorer women”

    And there it is. Big Pharma is already collecting this in 28 states and they expect to expand into all 50. It’s already paid for. At twice the market price. Hourly workers and poorer women won’t have to pay again. Republicans and bishops can scream all they want. It’s a done deal. Contraceptives are meds that healthy people use all their lives. Are you kidding me?  Nobody’s backing out of this deal. It’s like trying to ban toilet paper. But by all means, let’s see if we can make somebody look bad and end some political careers while the ink is drying.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong