Our Common Good

quickhits:

Santorum Contracepts Logic

We start the day’s festivities off with a chorus of boos. At last night’s GOP debate in Arizona, moderator John King read a question, submitted online, to the candidates. “Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?” King asked, to a round of boos.

It seems like an obvious question. The GOP has been working overtime to make headlines with it, so why would the audience boo? Were they booing contraception? Or was it that someone would bring it up? John Aravosis has what’s the best explanation I’ve read so far:

So then why did the GOP debate audience last night boo CNN for asking a question about birth control? The reaction suggested the crowd felt it was a “gotcha” topic. But how could it be? It’s the GOP that made this a huge topic of debate the past few weeks. Or is the audience embarrassed by the issue, because they’re losing badly on it in recent polls (even Catholics agree with President Obama over their own bishops)?

Well, if you’re too embarrassed to be asked about social issues, then don’t put them at the top of your agenda. I’d have liked to have seen John King fight back a little on that one.  He should have asked the candidates if they think it’s fair to ask about birth control, then tripped them up with their own statements over the past two weeks about President Obama’s contraceptive insurance plan.

I think he’s right — the whole thing has turned into a PR fiasco and Republican voters would rather forget it ever happened.

And if the audience wanted to put the BC fiasco behind them, so did most of the candidates. Gingrich dodged the question entirely. “If we’re going to have a debate about who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion,” Gingrich said. “It is not the Republicans.”

Leave it to Newt to dust off an old and debunked lie. Media Matters has reported that “Obama and other opponents said the bill posed a threat to abortion rights and was unnecessary because, they said, Illinois law already prohibited the conduct supposedly addressed by the bill.”

In other words, if a doctor kills a baby that’s murder. Shockingly, murder is illegal in Illinois. Gingrich is just plain wrong. No babies were harmed in the making of his little nutjob talking point.

For his part, Romney kind of waffled. He put the debate in terms of religious freedom — as if the ability to force employees to adhere to your religious beliefs amounted to some sort of towering beacon of liberty. This is the party line though and Mitt had it well-rehearsed. He did gloss over the fact that his “Romneycare” includes the same requirement.

Ron Paul, just as wrongly but perhaps less hypocritically, made it a “big government” issue. The more government becomes involved in things, the more these kind of issues will come up, he argued. That’s pretty much true, but it’s hardly an argument for restricting people’s access to birth control. It’s an argument for avoiding tough decisions.

But it was Rick Santorum who took the issue head on and, in doing so, exposed the cognitive dissonance he suffers on the issue. In the context of an earlier statement that he would talk about what “no president has talked about before — the dangers of contraception,” Rick had this to say:

What we’re seeing is a problem in our culture with respect to children being raised by children, children being raised out of wedlock, and the impact on society economically, the impact on society with respect to drug use and all — a host of other things when children have children.

[…]

Over 40 percent of children born in America are born out of wedlock. How can a country survive if children are being raised in homes where it’s so much harder to succeed economically? It’s five times the rate of poverty in single-parent households than it is in two-parent homes. We can have limited government, lower tax — we hear this all the time, cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine. No, everything’s not going to be fine.

So, what Rick is saying is that kids are using contraception and that’s bad. They go out, have sex, and the contraception fails. But as I pointed out last night, the Guttmacher Institute released a study — just days ago — showing that teen pregnancy has fallen to its lowest level in thirty years. Further, Guttmacher credits contraception for those numbers. Kids aren’t have more babies because of contraception, the opposite is true. Just as any sane person should expect.

And that thing about kids being born out of wedlock? That means exactly what it means: people aren’t getting married. It doesn’t mean that kids are being raised in single-parent homes, it means that Mom and Dad never saw the need to tie the knot. This used to be called “common law marriage” and at one time it was the most common form of family in many states and territories. Now, it’s some sort of crisis. One that Rick needs to solve by warning America of “the dangers of contraception.” Because not using contraception will lower the birth rate and get people to start marrying again. Apparently, it’ll also reduce drug use among teens. Not sure why, but that’s Rick’s argument.

See, it’s right about here that I question Santorum’s ability to reason. This makes absolutely no sense at all. What little data he cites doesn’t back him up in any way. Is he lying or just stupid? It doesn’t really make much difference. Either way he’s wrong.

-Wisco