In her latest Wall Street Journal column, Peggy Noonan clearly sees that which Barack Obama couldn't due to the arrogance that blinds.
The president will pay for his lack of vision, as well as his particularly tricky blend of pride and political incompetence. The White House is the wrong place to get a bad case of Big Head, take two stupid pills and expect to get re-elected in the morning.
What am I talking about? Let Ms. Noonan explain:
But the big political news of the week isn't Mr. Romney's gaffe, or even his victory in Florida. The big story took place in Washington. That's where a bomb went off that not many in the political class heard, or understood.RULE NO. 1 of politics: Don't push people too far on issues they're willing to go to jail over. Or die for. That's a fight you cannot win, because you can't jail or kill enough of your opponents, assuming even that the law allowed it and your country had the stomach for it.
But President Obama just may have lost the election.
The president signed off on a Health and Human Services ruling that says that under ObamaCare, Catholic institutions—including charities, hospitals and schools—will be required by law, for the first time ever, to provide and pay for insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures. If they do not, they will face ruinous fines in the millions of dollars. Or they can always go out of business.
In other words, the Catholic Church was told this week that its institutions can't be Catholic anymore.
I invite you to imagine the moment we are living in without the church's charities, hospitals and schools. And if you know anything about those organizations, you know it is a fantasy that they can afford millions in fines.
There was no reason to make this ruling—none. Except ideology.
The conscience clause, which keeps the church itself from having to bow to such decisions, has always been assumed to cover the church's institutions.
Now the church is fighting back. Priests in an estimated 70% of parishes last Sunday came forward to read strongly worded protests from the church's bishops. The ruling asks the church to abandon Catholic principles and beliefs; it is an abridgment of the First Amendment; it is not acceptable. They say they will not bow to it. They should never bow to it, not only because they are Catholic and cannot be told to take actions that deny their faith, but because they are citizens of the United States.
If they stay strong and fight, they will win. This is in fact a potentially unifying moment for American Catholics, long split left, right and center. Catholic conservatives will immediately and fully oppose the administration's decision. But Catholic liberals, who feel embarrassed and undercut, have also come out in opposition.
The church is split on many things. But do Catholics in the pews want the government telling their church to contravene its beliefs? A president affronting the leadership of the church, and blithely threatening its great institutions? No, they don't want that. They will unite against that.
The smallest part of this story is political. There are 77.7 million Catholics in the United States. In 2008 they made up 27% of the electorate, about 35 million people. Mr. Obama carried the Catholic vote, 54% to 45%. They helped him win.
They won't this year. And guess where a lot of Catholics live? In the battleground states.
If a Catholic is even halfway serious about what he or she professes to believe, this is that issue -- freedom of conscience and the sacred obligation to do what one believes God demands of him . . . or die trying.
A lot of us didn't agree with the president's social agenda, and we didn't vote for him, either. (Then again, neither did I vote for John McCain.) But we were supportive where conscience allowed, respected the office and respected the democratic process. And we didn't automatically assume ill will on his part while avoiding it on ours.
Obama and his administration mistook civility for passivity and a lack of non-negotiable principles and loyalties. That's the kind of arrogance born of pride that always goeth before a fall.
IT'S A PITY the Republican presidential candidates suck so. But, as Mick Jagger said, "You can't always get what you want."
Continued national decline, I guess we can live with. Freedom to worship God and live as He requires, that's the kind of freedom of conscience we can't live without.