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The Obama-Santorum Conspiracy

Chess Master or Pawn?

Convinced that President Obama’s contraception battle with the Catholic Church is not a “short-term tactical blunder” but yet another example of the president’s “strategically shrewd” long-game, conservative-turned-Dem-loving-ratiocinator Andrew Sullivan this week dabbled in a potentially promising career as a conspiracy theorist with a column at The Daily Beast that shocked Washington insiders and rubes, Democrats and Republicans, Obama-bots and Birthers alike.

The more Machiavellian observer might even suspect this is actually an improved bait and switch by Obama to more firmly identify the religious right with opposition to contraception, its weakest issue by far, and to shore up support among independent women and his more liberal base….And if this was a trap, the religious right walked right into it.

Not only did the right-wing establishment walk right into it, their constituents turned out en masse to vote on it, handing three presidential primary victories to the rigidly conservative and proudly orthodox Catholic Rick Santorum.

Is it therefore impossible to assume that President Obama expected that such a hot-button issue would effect turnout among conservatives, and therefore timed the contraception ruling in order to boost Santorum’s odds of besting the only candidate with even a remote chance of beating Obama in November, presumed nominee Mitt Romney?

That’s a rhetorical question, of course.

Obviously, the president is going to capitalize on whatever means are available to him in his race for re-election.

It doesn’t take a political genius to see that this contraception fight was a win-win-win for Obama. It riled his own base, pissed off the conservative wing of the Republican Party, and “reinforce(d) Obama’s reputation as a man willing to compromise, one of his core strengths among independent voters.”

As Sullivan observes, riling the “righteous” conservatives is especially important, if only because their extreme views on religious issues have done nothing to improve their popularity among the more moderate masses.

If the Catholic bishops and the religious right eventually reject the proposed Obama compromise, they will be digging themselves even deeper into a hole that is quickly losing traction. Citing the civil union-versus-marriage debate and the religious right’s ongoing pursuit to criminalize abortion, Sullivan writes that, “Time after time, they have rejected compromises on social issues because of fundamentalist rigidity, not Christian engagement with a changing world.” And as the polling shows, they’re losing ground on each of these aforementioned issues.

As this and other social issues come to the fore in an election pundits claim will be “focused almost entirely on jobs,” the clear beneficiary is Santorum.

Given the Republican Party’s lukewarm enthusiasm for Romney, Santorum’s hard-line stances on abortion, gay marriage, and other hot-button issues very well may propel him toward the nomination.

Anything Obama can do to help that potentiality become a reality is just good politics (especially when the majority of Americans support the specific policies being used to divide Republicans, as they do in the case of contraception).

 

Such political gamesmanship may not land Santorum the nomination, but fracturing Republican voters between the unelectable true-blood conservative and the electable but unlikeable “milquetoast Massachusetts moderate” plays well for the incumbent no matter how you slice it.

In a not-so-subtle hint to the Santorum campaign on what ought to be the focus of their attacks in the coming months, Sullivan states that the contraception issue “could not be more tailor-made to benefit” Santorum.

It could finally unite the Christian fundamentalist right behind him—especially since Romneycare contained exactly the same provisions on contraception that Obamacare did before last week’s compromise was announced. That’s right: Romneycare can now accurately be portrayed as falling to the left of Obamacare on the contraception issue.

“(This) could be the issue that wins him the nomination,” Sullivan says.

Or it could not be. Santorum could fall short of winning the nomination and succeed only in postponing Romney’s expected victory, bleeding the eventual nominee’s campaign coffers, dividing the Republican Party along social lines, and riling socially liberal and moderate Americans behind the incumbent’s less dogmatic, more pragmatic compromise.

Win or lose, Santorum’s surge into the No. 1 slot in the GOP primary race may prove nothing more than what is already obvious: that Barack Obama is more than a “chess master.” He’s one BAD motherfucker!

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14 Responses to The Obama-Santorum Conspiracy

  1. I LIKE TO CALL HIM PRES. BAD ASS BECAUSE HE IS.

  2. The author of “48 Laws of Power” says Barack Obama seems to be acting upon some of the rules he stated in his book from all points in history…….

    Hmmmmm, they might have to make an addendum version of that book after his re-election

  3. Actually, Sullivan might be right – Obama has shown he’s no dummy and he rarely makes moves that he doesn’t have a back up plan. The contraception blow up was a perfect storm of Republican overreach and stupidity. Most of the nation, even Catholics and Republicans, support birth control. What did the Tea Baggers do? They’re rallying behind a guy whose views on sex are so antiquated my 75 year old preacher uncle would call him a prude.

    Look, unless we’re all stuck on stupid, Santorum will never be President in the 21st century, primarily because his views on religion, sexuality and race relations are more fitting for the times of Cotton Mather. (Also, Megatron Romney hit on it a little, but Rick Santorum is a crook. He was a Gingrich approved K-Street lieutenant and basically used his Senate seat to hustle sweetheart deals) But keeping this cartoonish closet queen in the race a little longer hobbles the Mitt Machine, forcing him further to the right and making him weaker in the general.

    And even better for Obama, if the Tea Baggers are dumb enough to nominate Frothy – Obama will eat him alive. Between his tortured altar boy politics on sex and his shady dealings over his time in DC, Frothy will have tough fight against ‘Mr Clean’.

    It also illustrates to Americans that Obama is on their side. The GOP are trying to return us to the chastity belt and aren’t worried about jobs. Obama believes that women have the rights to their own body and that fixing the economy matters.

  4. re: Obama – Santorum conspiracy
    Our President is also a poker player (and a very good one by all accounts) with no “tell” so we will never know unless he wants us to.

  5. Planned or improvised, who knows?

    It isn’t necessarily evidence of a plan that it worked out so well for him. Lord knows the Reverend Wright blow up wasn’t a plan, but his reaction – especially the Philadelphia speech – probably won him the nomination.

    He’s a very good counter-puncher. The whole thing could have been a set-up, or just some fancy footwork.

  6. It’s simply astonishing how stupid republicans are.

    It’s just as astonishing watching the idiot pundit class, oh-so-eagerly salivating over their “ZOMG OBAMA BLUNDERED” moment, now trying to re-tool their idiotic initial statements so as to save face.

    Stupid and HILARIOUS.

    • I’d say Republicans and pundits (of all stripes) are identical in that they mostly listen to themselves and others like them. Most lefties I know pay attention to the bullshit that Fox News says (even if, like me, they get it mostly through places like this) because we have a “know thy enemy” mindset. Whereas pundits talk to other pundits, and Fox viewers don’t pay attention to anything that doesn’t reinforce their worldview.

      So it’s easy for them to actually BELIEVE that Obama really put his foot in it with the BC compromise, because that’s what Fox tells them, and that’s what the other (aging, white, male, privileged) pundits tell them. When the rest of the world tells them “Uh, you’re way off base,” it shocks them. The same way the DC media were shocked that Stephen Colbert actually didn’t flop at the White House Press Correspondents’ dinner. He may have flopped with THEM, but they were just the foils and the fools in the room. He knew (as Obama does) that the real audience and constituency lives very far away from DC.

      And the DC power elite still hate Obama for not licking their stinking asses and pretending that their shit doesn’t smell.

  7. The mistake many have made in their talk about “11th dimensional chess” is in thinking that Obama has a detailed strategy for getting people to react the right way at the right time. Instead, he has a general plan for pushing certain initiatives with the expectation that some kind of push back will occur but what that will be he can’t be sure of. He then takes advantage of the eventual pushback based on its its details.

    In other words, he’s very good at thinking on his feet, which only makes it look like he planned this in some detailed way ahead of time.

  8. My sense reading Sullivan’s piece was that the graf about “Machiavellian” tactics wasn’t meant to describe the president’s motivations, but rather observers’ interpretations of them — which Sully himself confirmed on Hardball last night. As Chris Anderson notes above, it’s probably a mistake to chalk everything up to “11-dimensional chess” rather than to the more proximate explanations: First, that the president (as Chris says) is good at thinking on his feet and second (and in my view more importantly in this case), that he’s absolutely on the right side of the contraception issue, which makes a fairly big difference in terms of optics.

    It’s not as if Obama tricked Republicans into going full-bore bugfuck on contraception — although it beggars belief to suppose he wasn’t aware of their tendency to do so. From the start, supporting contraception rights for women was the right thing to do, and I imagine Obama’s team felt good enough (and rightly so) about the strength of their position on this to go to the mat Republicans raised hell about it. Which they have — and now they are paying the political consequences of tipping their hand.

  9. I think it was a coincidence because, let’s face it, Jesus is not all that fond of conservatives.

  10. Jesus isn’t fond of conservatives?!? Really..you really just said that. Sites like this make me sick, why do you think you deserve my money? Get off welfare and get a real job. If Oprah can be rich and Obama can be pres what your excuse?

    • Uh, how do you know anyone here is on welfare? Did you just read “Angry Black Lady” and somehow translate that as “welfare queen?” Why don’t you take your racist cracker ass back to your Klan rally?

    • And perhaps you can point out for where Jesus said “Don’t do anything about the poor or the sick or the homeless — but make sure you harass gay people as much as possible.”

      But if this site “makes you sick,” there’s the door. Don’t let it hit ya, etc., etc.

    • By the way, you DO know that the biggest “welfare states” in the union (that is, those that receive more in federal dollars than they pay in taxes) are almost all the “reddest” ones, right? So save your ire for the gummint-hating conservative strongholds that are choking on the federal teat.

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