Kathryn, Yuval, Steven, I think that you are all missing the key point in my post. First, however, let me admit that, so far as I’m concerned, Ms. Orr’s views on contraception appear to be a little, well, eccentric. Let’s leave the adjectives at that. As for her views on abstinence education, they don’t particularly worry me one way or the other. Nor did I ever say they did. As it happens, abstinence education is, for the most part, a waste of time and money but, so long as that is not all that is on offer, it appears to be ineffectual rather than actively harmful. On occasion, it may even do a little good. Would that we could say the same of some other government programs. On the appointment itself, I’ll cheerfully concede that the President is well within his rights to appoint her: in fact I never said otherwise. The real focus of my post was that, politically speaking, this appointment was a dumb move. It was. And it is. To clarify what I was getting at: it’s a gift to those peddling the idea of theocracy on the march, and it’s exactly the sort of thing guaranteed to further infuriate what’s left of ‘sagebrush’ conservatism (thus my ‘Ron Paul’ link). You can make the argument that libertarians shouldn’t favor government funding of this sort of thing, but this is to ignore the fact that, given that there is government spending, some choices are better than others. In addition, gestures such as this appointment are important cultural signifiers, and what they signify is unlikely to appeal to the more laissez faire parts of the GOP coalition. Admittedly that’s a smaller part of the coalition than I’d like, but this is not a time that the GOP can afford to alienate any part of its traditional base. After immigration ‘reform’, after McCain-Feingold-Bush, after who knows what else, you’d think that this White House would get this. Not so, it would seem.
I’ll leave the last words with one of my correspondents:
“The belief that birth control is a bad thing is simply a bridge too far in the culture wars. You can argue that abstinence amongst teens is a good thing — and I certainly do to my 12 year old — but advocating that insurance plans not cover birth control is ridiculous. There are many married people who choose to limit the number of children that they have (and can afford to raise) who still want to have relations with their spouse. If the Republicans are seen as the party that advocates the “rhythm method,” they might as well hang it up now.”