It was a stunning moment. Congressman Darrell Issa, the Grand Inquisitor of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, thought he’d found the perfect ginned-up issue – the deliciously rhetorical, preordained “investigative” hearing titled, “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama administration trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” It was to be Issa’s perfect, political-points photo-op moment – the grand inquisitor’s dais filled with a long line of somberly suited and/or Roman-collared men opining on . . . . . female birth control.
When up popped Democrat Carolyn Malone (D-N.Y.) who asked, “What I want to know is, where are the women? I look at this panel, and I don’t see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services, including family planning. Where are the women?”
And suddenly, Issa’s best laid plans to make political hay by pretending he was discussing weighty matters all went kerflooey as his Grand Inquisitor Table of Men went viral. And women across the country rolled their eyes. Isn’t that just like a man, they said. Discussing my private parts in public while I’m not even allowed in the room. Boooo! BOOOOOO!
And, before you knew it, here came Rick Santorum’s money-bags PAC donor, the interestingly named Foster Friess, a goofy smile constantly plastered on his face, who stunned the interviewing Andrea Mitchell into silence when he noted that he found this birth control issue all nonsense. Sayeth Friess, “Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.” Heh-heh. And THAT clip went viral and even more women rolled their eyes. Aspirin? Knees? Boooo! BOOOOOO!
While clips appeared of Santorum stumbling through a muddled explanation of his interpretation of conservative Catholic doctrine that birth control is bad because it allows people to engage in . . . well, behavior that they shouldn’t be engaging in or at least engaging in behavior with no consequences, since sex should have consequences, like punishment and suffering and hell fire and damnation and, oh, never mind. And more eyes rolled as it was pointed out that a Pew poll showed that over 90% of Catholic women practice some form of birth control, including using the pill. And anyway, who’s listening to a morally bankrupt Catholic hierarchy that repeatedly chose their assets over protecting their children. Boooo! BOOOOO!
And before the furor could die down, the newly passed Virginia ultrasound law came up on the radar. If signed into law, women wanting or needing an abortion would be forced to have a sonogram, which can require a medically unnecessary invasive vaginal procedure that involves a dildo-like wand being inserted into her body. This from the conservative Republican FreeDOM! FreeDOM! Crowd. WTF? What’s with these Republicans and their obsessive need to poke into women’s vaginas? Booooo! BOOOOOO!
And suddenly the long game began taking shape out of what first looked like an incoherent muddle of oxymoronic politics and comic photo-op pratfalls: Reassertion of the white male prerogative, the sweet return to state enforced religious dogma, and, ultimately, total conservative control over all branches of government. Patriarchy redux, Torquemada Darrell Issa of the Auto de Fe Holy House Oversight Committee, the “severe” conservative’s theocratic swirling wet dream of privilege, power, dildo-wands, knees, aspirins, and uppity women finally silenced and hobbled and sent to the back of the church.
Where we belong. Right.