Friday, December 9, 2011

Politics was the point

I like Rebecca Traister a lot, mostly. And I like the fact that she takes our Patriarch in Chief to task for his decision and his language in reversing healthcare experts' judgment about sales of Plan B. But she's still stuck in Obama Apologia mode:

"It should no longer come as a surprise that the president of the United States is, on perhaps an unconscious level, an old-school patriarch. What’s startling is the degree to which Obama seems not to have learned from any of his past gaffes, how no one seems to have told him – or told him in a way that he’s absorbed – that the best way to address a question of women’s health and rights is probably not by making it about his role as a father.

"This might be an especially valuable chat to have with the president as he moves into 2012 and toward an election in which he is going to be relying on the support of people he has just managed to anger, offend and speak down to — women. The least he could do is learn to address them with respect."

Not learned from past gaffes? This assumes it was an unconscious habit of mind, expressed in an unfortunate turn of phrase. But however he framed it, it's quite apparent that this decision was deliberate, political and his from the get-go. It's a silly lie that Sibelius made this call independently and that he only found out about it when we all did. He and his political advisors, the Boys Club of the West Wing, made the calculation that most voters -- or enough of them, anyway -- aren't ready to think about their daughters' sexuality, and so he simply threw out the data and ignored the considered expertise of medical professionals.

There's real sexism here, but it's not unconscious. It's considered. He thinks that the political price to be paid for principled action would be greater than the political price to be paid for unprincipled action. He thinks most people aren't ready for this, and anyway, women voters still have nowhere else to go.