This week, Barack Obama attempted to shift back to the “war on women” attack theme, adding Sandra Fluke to his campaign team and arguing that Mitt Romney would take America back to the 1950s on contraception. Team Romney was ready for this strategy. Today they have a new ad, “Be Not Afraid,” which accuses Obama of conducting a war on religion by forcing companies to fully fund and facilitate access to contraception — even faith-based organizations like religious schools, charities, and hospitals. The ad makes a play for Catholic voters with references to Pope John Paul II and Lech Walesa, leveraging Romney’s recent successful visit to Poland:
National Journal notes the ad’s subtlety:
It does not explicitly say how the Affordable Care Act forces religious institutions to “go against their faith,” but cites a news article headlined “Obama Insurance Decision Declares War on Religion.” The article, from a February issue of the San Antonio Express News, is an opinion piece that criticizes the Obama administration’s efforts to require religiously-affiliated institutions to cover birth control.
“Romney believes that is wrong,” a voice-over says as the spot cuts to images of Romney giving a speech in Warsaw, Poland, this summer. Quoting former Pope John Paul II, he says “be not afraid.”
Text on the screen then reads “Endorsed by Lech Walesa,” the former President of Poland.
As I’ve noted on a number of occasions, no one has ever proposed making contraception more difficult to obtain. No one has even suggested cutting back Title X funding for the federal program which subsidizes and distributes contraception for the poor. Forcing employers to provide it for free even when it violates their religious practice is the actual issue, especially for religious organizations. It’s an unprecedented intrusion into religious expression to solve a huge non-problem.
I’d call this ad a good response, with great timing, to Obama’s attempt to reheat the “war on women” meme that flopped so badly in May.