Matthews: Gold star for Obama on change to contraception mandate

Updated

President Obama gets the gold star tonight.  He’s found a way to reconcile the goal of good health care, including reproductive health care, for women and what he acknowledges as the legitimate rights of religion organizations.

He did it by mandating that insurance companies swallow the costs of birth control in their policies when church organizations decide they cannot in good conscience do so.

 Today’s announcement by the president was evidence that he was both alert to the public debate and strong enough to make an adjustment in policy when needed.  He decided early on in this debate that action was necessary and took it as soon as a solid policy option was before him.  He wanted to bridge the goals of women’s advocates with what he recognized as the legitimate position of the Catholic Church.

As is often the case, the way the public decides such issues is to decide who is being the bully. If you viewed the government here as bullying the church, you found for the church.  If you viewed the church as bullying its female employees, then you found against it.

Today the president presented a way to address both perceptions.  By directing the insurance companies themselves to absorb the cost of birth control, he freed the churches of having to do so. 

For people on both sides of the dispute, it was a good way to end the week.  It was especially a good way to end the week for President Obama.  It showed he was awake to the problem, was flexible and humble enough to demand a fix, and that, as he said, he gets better at this job as time goes on.   

Matthews: Gold star for Obama on change to contraception mandate

Updated