Sandra Fluke is a distraction and a useful one for the Obama administration—as long as the administration can keep the focus on the tragedy of Ms. Fluke’s having to pay for her own contraception, we won’t be talking about the real issues raised by the HHS mandate, freedom of conscience and government overreach.
For that reason, I earlier today decided against writing about Ms. Fluke. But the Fluke phenomenon is so fascinating that I can’t stop myself. Columnist Mona Charen says the Fluke phenomenon is an example of the Obama administration’s “genius for changing the subject.”
Mona shows how the left has exhibited this genius even before this most-adept of administrations. In the 1980s and early 1990s, we found ourselves ensnared in a controversy over alleged censorship. The National Endowment for the Arts funded a program that included artist Andres Serrano’s "Piss Christ," a photograph of a crucifix submerged in a jar of the artist's urine, and other goodies of this nature.
Some taxpayers objected. They didn't want to stop Serrano from showing his masterpieces. They just didn't want the National Endowment to use money from the public to provide a showcase for such objets. They were accused of wanting to censor great art. In the same way, today nobody is trying to prevent women from obtaining contraception; the issue is that some faith-based institution, which regard contraception as morally objectionable, are simply saying they should not be forced to pay for insurance policies that include it (and abortifacients and sterilization). Mona writes:
Even Catholic institutions that object to this command on religious grounds are to be bullied by the federal government into violating their consciences. This ought to have provoked an outcry from liberals, allegedly firm guardians of the First Amendment.
Instead, a compliant media has peddled the narrative of a supposed Republican "war on women." Every Sunday talk host presented the issue on the Democrats' terms.
Ron Ross of the American Spectator seems to believe that that the White House and members of the press are coordinating this changing of the subject:
The fact that contraceptives have become a hot political issue is bizarre beyond belief. Before the January 7 Republican debate in New Hampshire it was nowhere on the political horizon. In that debate moderator George Stephanopoulos badgered Mitt Romney about whether or not states have the constitutional authority to ban contraceptives. Romney was understandably befuddled by the question. In retrospect it is now clear that there was a method to the madness of Stephanopoulos' question.
It must be fun to be Ms. Fluke, who has been lionized by Maureen Dowd (“a poised, wholesome-looking 30-year-old Georgetown law student”), just now. She is riding high with the liberal media, so I was quite surprised to read a Daily Beast story that had some tidbits that seemed to have slipped right past the censor. Headline:
Some Georgetown Students Back Sandra Fluke in the Limbaugh Flap, Others Feel Muzzled
The story by Allison Yarrow reports:
But some students who don’t share Fluke’s views—that Georgetown should fund contraception coverage for its students—have grown hesitant to voice their opposition, lest they be lumped with that outlandish wingnut, Rush. One after the next, students describe Georgetown as a place where healthy, thoughtful dialogue and disagreement thrives, but many feel less comfortable talking about contraception than before.
“It’s an easy weapon against our argument to compare us to Rush Limbaugh,” said third-year law student Drew Sullivan. “The fear is that our voice would be muted by liberals who would paint us as his disciples, when our argument is based on constitutional values.”
Yeah, it appears that Sandra Fluke isn’t Every Student. But those who don’t agree with her are afraid to speak up because, in liberal academia, dissent is not tolerated.