If you didn’t know that the White House intends to go after the woman voter in a big way this year, the “controversy” over contraception should be your big tipoff.

 It is safe to say that no GOP hopeful, with the exception of Rick Santorum, has ever publicly mentioned contraception.

Whatever your opinion, my opinion or Mr. Santorum's opinion happens to be, contraception simply is not a political issue in the pluralistic United States.

The first time the matter came up, in a January political debate, Mitt Romney dismissed the subject out of hand. Coming before the HHS mandate on contraception, it was an outlandish question. Romney seemed to think that ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who first raised the issue, had coordinated with the White House.

Now, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has joined the fray, slyly implying in her column yesterday that GOP candidates are vying with each other to stake out the most radical positions on contraception:

The contenders in the Hester Prynne primaries are tripping over one another trying to be the most radical, unreasonable and insane candidate they can be.

They pounce on any traces of sanity in the other candidates — be it humanity toward women, compassion toward immigrants or the willingness to make the rich pay a nickel more in taxes — and try to destroy them with it.

The reference to Hester Prynne and “humanity towards women” can only be construed as referring to contraception. But, to repeat myself, the only Republican who has ever publicly mentioned contraception is Rick Santorum. The other candidates aren’t talking about it and don’t regard it as an issue.

Only if Santorum, who has said he would speak out against contraception as president, is nominated is it an issue. And even Santorum hasn’t said he’d try to make contraception illegal. But no matter who is the eventual GOP (“Ghastly Outdated Party” in Dowd’s headline) nominee, people like Dowd are determined to dishonestly portray the GOP as having an agenda on the non-issue of contraception.

The issue with the HHS mandate on contraception is not whether women should have access to contraception. Whatever you think about about contraception, that is not in dispute. The issue is whether religious institutions should be forced by the government to pay for procedures if they find these procedures morally objectionable. Dowd is a smart woman. Surely, she can grasp this distinction.    

What is going on here is a disingenuous attempt to smear Republicans as anti-woman.

If President Obama had a better record on which to run, this wouldn't be happening.

PS. Dowd isn't the only one at the Times who has become unhinged on this matter. Times editorial board member and former ACLU lawyer Dorothy Samuels’ strangely reasoned take on the mandate is fodder for an excellent post by Ricochet's Adam Freedman.