Friday, January 31, 2014

Huckabee is right

When Charles Krauthammer sets out to debunk the “war on women,” why does he start with an attack on the conservative targets in that war? It sounds to me like a retreat, not a debunking.

What is it about women that causes leading Republicans to grow clumsy, if not stupid? When even savvy, fluent, attractively populist Mike Huckabee stumbles, you know you’ve got trouble. Having already thrown away eminently winnable Senate seats in Missouri and Indiana because of moronic talk about rape, the GOP might have learned. You’d think.

Huckabee wasn’t quite as egregious, just puzzling and a bit weird. Trying to make a point about Obamacare mandating free contraceptives, he inexplicably began speculating that the reason behind the freebie was the Democrats’ belief that women need the federal government to protect them from their own libidos.

Bizarre. I can think of no Democrat who has ever said that, nor any liberal who even thinks that. Such a theory, when offered by a conservative, is quite unfortunately self-revealing.

Revealing of special insight into the Democrats’ condescension! Calling opponents of subsidized wantoness a “war on women” presumes the public’s inability to think of themselves as more than rutting hedonists.

In light of the narrative’s success, one must ask: Is the public unable to think of themselves as more than rutting hedonists? I don’t know. Maybe we’ve stewed so long in the kettle of secular liberalism that we don’t know what it is to be human anymore.

Is there more to life than sex and death? Are there higher things, dare I say moral absolutes, to which we as a people ought to orient ourselves and strive? The misogynist Huckabee thinks so.

Liberals have a values-free approach. If rutting is your bag, by golly it’s your right to live that way, and it shouldn’t cost you a penny. The state exists to enable all lifestyles. After all, we’re born the way we are. It’s not like we have any choice in the matter.

Krauthammer’s approach, too, is values-free. His objection to the contraceptive mandate lies not on moral grounds, but on utilitarian grounds:

There’s a good policy question to be asked about the contraceptive mandate (even apart from its challenge to religious freedom). It’s about priorities. By what moral logic does the state provide one woman with co-pay-free contraceptives while denying the same subvention to another woman when she urgently needs antibiotics for her sick child?

This means, when the resources are available, when technology is far enough along to end fears of premature death by illness or deformation, then we can go about subsidizing contraceptives—with religious exemptions for the throwbacks and the bigots, of course. Krauthammer, a self-conscious atheist, doesn’t see anything wrong with that, which makes him a more natural prosecutor in the phony “war on women,” as he shows in the opening paragraphs of his piece, than a defender.

He poses the question about moral logic as a hypothetical, but it has an answer: Liberals value sexual freedom more than healing the sick. As Rod Dreher puts it:

For many secular liberals, sexual freedom and pleasure is the summum bonum of life, and must be privileged above all else, including religious liberty.

Ask why, and before you know it you’ll find yourself agreeing with Huckabee.

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