At today's White House press conference, President Obama was not asked a single question about the public policy aspects of Obamacare's new mandate forcing employers, including most religious institutions, to pay for abortion pills and contraception. Rather, he was asked by two different reporters about some unseemly rhetoric surrounding the debate.
First, Obama was asked about Rush Limbaugh's degrading comments about Georgetown Law student and liberal activist Sandra Fluke. Obama talked at some length about why Limbaugh's remarks were wrong. But when he was asked if he agreed with his hand-picked DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's comments that opponents of the mandate are waging a "war on women," Obama declined to comment.
"Would you prefer the language be changed?" CNN's Jessica Yellin asked.
"Jessica, as you know, if I start being in the business arbitrating--"
"You talk about civility," Yellin interjected.
"And what I do is practice it," Obama replied. "I'll try to lead by example as opposed to commenting on every comment that is made by either politicians or pundits, I would not have time to do my job, that is your job to comment on what is said by them."
Of course, moments earlier Obama had taken the liberty to comment on a radio talk show host's comments. "What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don't have any place in the public discourse," Obama said, regarding Limbaugh's insults. "And the reason I called her is because I thought about Malia and Sasha, and one of the things want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about. Even ones I may not agree with them on. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way. And I don't want them attacked. Or called horrible names because they are being good citizens. I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her. And that we want to send a message to all our young people that being part of a democracy involves argument and disagreements and debate. and we want you to be engaged and there is a way to do it that doesn't involve you being demeaned and insulted particularly when around private citizen."
In other words, if Rush Limbaugh says something nasty, Obama's got your back. If DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz says all pro-lifers and supporters of religious liberty are waging a war on women--which implies that female pro-lifers are self-hating women--Obama says he can't be expected to speak up.