A Bitter Presidency
Division, not hope.

Kate Obenshain, author of Divider-in-Chief: The Fraud of Hope and Change


LOPEZ: “Listen carefully whenever the president talks about abortion or birth control. Very often you’ll hear him invoke what would seem to be unlikely sources of inspiration for his radical views: his daughters, Malia and Sasha.” Why is this important to point out?

OBENSHAIN: I point this out because it reveals the irony and hypocrisy of Obama. The Obamas have appropriately made it clear that their daughters are off limits to the media. Yet President Obama often goes out of his way to bring his daughters into the public discourse in order to bolster his political or policy objectives. It’s often in the context of abortion.


On the campaign trail in 2008, Obama told an audience that he supported schools’ teaching children about abortion and contraception because “I don’t want [my daughters] punished with a baby.”

He invoked them when defending Sandra Fluke during the contraception debate against a comment by Rush Limbaugh. He said, “I called Ms. Fluke . . . because I thought about Malia and Sasha and one of the things that I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about.” And he brought them into the discussion again when defending his about face on the gay-marriage issue.

I have no doubt that Obama has been influenced on issues by being a father. But I also have no doubt that Obama figures Americans will be more likely to accept his radical positions on those issues if he prefaces his statements of support with declarations about his experience as a father of two daughters. It’s a cynical game Obama plays — on the one hand, his children are off limits, and on the other, he invokes them when political necessity calls. And just as vilifying his opponents helps to silence them on facts, bringing his girls up is intended to blunt the opposition’s effectiveness as well.

LOPEZ: Why do you insist the Left is “obsessed” with abortion?

OBENSHAIN: I find it laughable that the Left likes to say conservatives talk about social issues all the time — when they are clearly obsessed. But they have a reason beyond their desire for abortion on demand at all stages of pregnancy. Abortion is an intensely polarizing issue. They need it right now. It plays into their “war on women” mantra and distracts from their downright abysmal record on the economy and the almost daily reports that there is no sign of relief. If they can use the abortion and contraception issues to vilify Republicans as “launching an all-out war on women,” then they undermine Republicans on all issues. Of course not all women are predominantly concerned about birth control. But the Democrats’ goal is to make it broader than that — Republicans, they insist, actually despise women. They want to take them back and subject them to tyranny. It is the Alinsky tactic, again, of identifying an enemy, impugning their character and motives, stirring up animosity against them, and pushing through one’s own agenda.

LOPEZ: “Sheer cynicism” is how you describe the HHS mandate. But surely there are some good intentions behind it. How can we talk to more people more effectively about it? I’m not sure simply talking about “religious freedom” works as the Obama administration claims to be “unwavering” in its defense.

OBENSHAIN: The HHS mandate has two intentions. The first is an attempt to advance the administration’s objective of free birth control and universal abortion. The second is a flagrant attack on religious freedom. The cynicism stems from the fact that the Obama administration picked an issue on which they know the Catholic Church is not in line with the public — birth control — and one on which they can divide the Church, both from the public and internally. If Obama can convince the public that the Church wants to deny women their “basic right” to birth control, he can trump the Church’s genuine right, under the First Amendment, to practice its faith as it sees fit without trampling on the rights of another. If the government can compel a religious organization to violate its core beliefs — exactly what the Obama administration wants to do — then religious freedom will no longer exist.

The Left wants this to devolve into a discussion about birth control. Even though the Catholic Church, and other religions objecting to this mandate, object only to the compulsion that they provide insurance that covers procedures and drugs antithetical to their faith, not to the public availability of birth control, the Democrats have used it, again, cynically, to further their “war on women” number against those politicians who defend the Church. Obama has distorted the facts and attempted to remove the fundamental constitutional issue from the discussion. When the constitutional right to religious freedom is the issue, the mandate loses support. When it’s all about birth control, it wins.