When January’s jobs report was released, the unexpectedly large spike in employment was welcome news to just about everybody except Mitt Romney and the Republicans. If the “Obama economy” keeps getting better, what the heck will the GOP run on? How to fire up the folk with the kind of indignation that propels conservative voters to the polls en masse? Now we have an answer: another culture war. The Obama administration’s decision to require religiously affiliated hospitals and universities to provide birth-control coverage has put some meat (however scant) on the bones of the president’s supposed “war on religion.” Romney denounced it as “a rule that tramples on religious freedom.” Gingrich called for a government that “respects our religion” (gee, wonder which one that would be?). But no candidate is better suited to such a moment than Rick Santorum, as he demonstrated yesterday at a big-barn rally in Plano, Texas. The former Pennsylvania senator cast the contraception mandate as a threat to the very fabric of democracy. “They are taking faith and crushing it,” he said, as members of a 2,000-strong audience cheered and shouted encouragement. “Why? Why? When you marginalize faith in America, when you remove the pillar of God-given rights, then what’s left? French Revolution. What’s left is a government that gives you rights. What’s left are no unalienable rights. What’s left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you’ll do and when you’ll do it. What’s left in France became the guillotine. Ladies and gentlemen, we are a long way from that, but if we do follow the path of President Obama and his overt hostility to faith in America, then we are headed down that road.” And the campaign, it seems, is headed down this road as well. The birth-control controversy could be short-lived, but as David Remnick writes at The New Yorker, if the economy continues to look better, the Republicans will get busy “fanning any ember of cultural anxiety, fear, or resentment that can be found.”
So They Say
Daily Meme: Fun and Frolic at CPAC
- A panel on “The Failures of Multiculturalism” includes a well-known white nationalist.
- Marco Rubio on Obama: “The president of the United States looks like a good father, looks like a good husband, but he is a terrible president.”
- Conservatives learn how to pick up dates.
- Rick Perry decries Wall Street, and puts his own convoluted spin on the "Halftime in America" ad.
- Romney needs to rock the house tomorrow, or else.
- Quote of the day: "Mitt Romney is a soulless automaton with no principles—which is why he's good."
What We're Writing
- Harold Meyerson reports on Americans United and its well-funded campaign to run a “centrist” for president in all 50 states.
- Paul Waldman and Jamelle Bouie write about what the opponents of the contraception mandate are really after.
What We're Reading
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launches a $10 million campaign to elect 20 Republican congressional candidates and return control of the Senate to the GOP.
- Nancy Pelosi lashes out against the Colbert super PAC.
- “Chess master or pawn?” James Fallows takes a deep look at President Obama’s first term.
- A Santorum adviser dishes up an extended Star Wars metaphor.
- E.J. Dionne: Eastwood, Santorum, Romney, and the limits of pessimism.
- New York Times: Meet the moneyman behind Rick Santorum’s super PAC.
Poll of the Day