Actually, it’s the Washington Post’s Ann Gerhart, not the Virginia of yore, who is promoting contraception (!) as an issue in the 2012 presidential race.

It isn’t and won’t be if the GOP can walk right out of that ambush into which it has walked on this issue. The correct way to handle the issue is shown in this ad for Sarah Steelman, who is running for Senate against Claire McCaskill (ad courtesy of Hot Air). Steelman never mentions the C-word but focuses instead on the real issue at stake: liberty.

To understand why the left is so eager to discuss contraception, let's start with a sampling of Ms. Gerhard’s heated prose:

Now gender warfare is erupting anew, at least in the spheres where political agitation thrives.

“Now you have a group of inflamed, enraged and constantly provoked women,” says Clare Coleman, who heads the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.

Or, as Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, said incredulously on Saturday during a rally in Austin:

“Somehow in this country, in 2012, this election might turn on whether women should have access to birth control.”

You've got to love the martial cadences of "gender warfare is erupting anew!" I can almost hear Edward R. Murrow reading this line.

 No, Anne and Cecile, you’d like to make people think birth control is the issue, but it isn’t. I know why you want to do this: demagoguery. You can’t win on the freedom issue, but on the birth control issue, you will score some points.

Most people believe that there is nothing wrong with contraception. The consensus that there was something morally objectionable about artificial birth control began to crumble in the 1930s, triggered by a decision made by the Church of England’s Lambeth Conference and written about in a famous essay by the poet T.S. Eliot.

Since then the consensus has gone in the other direction—most people automatically assume that contraception is fine and dandy. As a member of a Church that does not condone it, I give my total assent to Church teachings. But I can absolutely assure you that I would find it absolutely bizarre and destructive to try to pass a law outlawing contraception. The the moral consensus–and laws reflect a society’s consensus–very strongly favors contraception.

We live in a pluralistic society. To say contraception is an issue in the 2012 presidential race is a scare tactic. It is every bit as sleazy as saying that people who don't agree with President Obama on this or that issue are racist. Say it loud, say it clear: We live in a pluralistic society.

The issue is whether governmentshould have the right to force people to violate their consciences. In a pluralistic, democratic society, people should not be required by law to violate their consciences.  But Gerhart and Richards know that is not a winner for them.

Senator Rick Santorum is a conviction politician and he believes the contraception is harmful.

But the GOP has got to follow the example of the aforementioned Sarah Steelman and get the issue back on track.