Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What Do They Have Left? "Culture Wars"?

According to Gallup's latest poll on economic confidence, Americans are increasingly confident in the American economy and our ability to recover from "The Great Recession". And not only are Americans saying this to pollsters, but they're also showing it by buying more products. And that, in turn, allows companies to hire again, which should lead to more good economic news in the near future.

Despite so much pessimism over the economy last year, it looks like America really is making a comeback. And it's happening under President Obama's watch. That's what really scares Congressional Republicans now. As we talked about earlier this month, the G-O-TEA was basing its entire campaign strategy on blaming the horrible state of the economy on Obama. So now that the economy isn't all that horrible any more, what do they have left to campaign on?

Queue Ricky Santorum bashing LGBTQ families and trash talking Washington state's new marriage equality law.

And not to be outdone in the homophobia department, Willard Romney boasted at CPAC last weekend about preventing Massachusetts from becoming "The Las Vegas of Gay Marriage" while he was Governor.

(Jeez, if only we could finally join in on the marriage equality fun!)

Oh, yes. That's right. The "CUL'CHUR WARZZZ!!!!!" are back.

Think about it. House Republicans are apparently caving on the year-long payroll tax cut extension. And already, House Democrats are upping the ante and demanding they end the hostage game on unemployment benefits and Medicare doctor compensation as well. Now that the economy is improving and Republicans don't want to be blamed for causing a relapse into recession, they may now be at least partially retreating from obstruction fights like the one over the payroll tax cut.

So what do they have left to campaign on? Stop that "evil" birth control!

Schisms are emerging within the Republican Party after President Obama’s announcement last Friday that he would tweak his contraception mandate to ensure that religious nonprofits aren’t forced to pay for an employee’s birth control coverage. And as GOP leaders push to repeal the requirement entirely, the White House is welcoming that battle.

The shift is looking like an act of political jujitsu as Obama has not only unified his base but splintered the GOP coalition, which initially appeared united against the President’s rule. Obama won over the Democrats and moderate Catholics who criticized him, while maintaining the support of those who backed the original rule. As an added bonus, he has turned some Republicans who initially opposed his policy against their own leaders.

Splitting from their party leaders are Maine Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of whom criticized the earlier regulation but praised the shift in carefully-worded statements. Neither would say whether they supported an amendment by their Senate colleague Roy Blunt (MO), which would fully reverse the requirement. [...]

“It appears that changes have been made that provide women’s health services without compelling Catholic organizations in particular to violate the beliefs and tenets of their faith,” Snowe told the Portland Herald Tribune. “According to the Catholic Health Association, the administration ‘responded to the issues [they] identified that needed to be fixed,’ which is what I urged the president to do in addressing this situation.”

But wait, according to Nevada's own "Trust me, I'm a doctor!" Joe Heck, his and most of the rest of hiw fellow G-O-TEA culture warriors' opposition to insurance coverage of birth control has "nothing to do with women's health issues". So even Republican US Senators think the G-O-TEA is going too far on its war on women?

This is the Republicans' new dilemma. As Willard Romney is having to find out the hard way, one can't really acknowledge an improving economy while still saying the President has a bad economic record. So Republicans look to be pivoting back to "culture war" issues like marriage equality and women's health care. However as Americans seem to be having less of a problem with gay couples marrying and women getting insurance coverage for birth control, those issues just don't have the same kind of potency that George W. Bush found with them a decade ago...

Except when it comes to the G-O-TEA base. And that's what's really scaring the Republican extablishment.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

While Mittens' general election poll numbers are falling, Santorum's primary poll numbers are rising. And that may largely be due to the "tea party" base seeing Santorum more as "one of them" than Romney. "The Culture Wars" are back, but the "tea" infused Republican base is leading its party to defeat on them.

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