Accommodation, Not a Compromise

In the fast-paced, rough and tumble of politics, it’s easy to overlook subtle variations in wording. Often we’re told that “the Devil is in the details.” Sometimes among the details are politicians’ word choices. Thus when President Obama announced an adjustment in his position on the requirement that Catholic Institutions include abortion, sterilization, and birth control in insurance policies they provide their employees, he chose to call the shift an “accommodation” rather than a “compromise.”

Strictly speaking, he was right. A compromise is an agreement reached by two parties who both participate in negotiations and who both have power. The Catholic Church protested the “health care” requirement, but had no part in any negotiations to reach a compromise. Rather the President modified his stance and shifted the cost of birth control insurance away from the Church itself and onto companies who provide their employees’ insurance. The importance of calling this an “accommodation” is that it preserves all the power for the government. There were no discussions, no give and take, only a unilateral, political decision by the Obama Administration.

This might seem like small potatoes, but it reveals the mind-set of the “progressives” who are now running the show. Their accommodation to a protest is “noblesse oblige.” In other words, we have the power and we will make the decisions. As for the Catholic Church, they have been told to accept a plan that forces their insurance companies to pay for procedures that the Church itself finds morally unacceptable. It is like suggesting that a person who hires a hit man to commit a murder is him/herself without guilt.

There’s much more to this issue than Obama’s choice of words. There is, of course, the point that, under the First Amendment to the Constitution, no one (not just Catholics) can be forced to abandon his or her religious beliefs. So there’s more to come, but by choosing to call his change of position an accommodation, Obama reveals an imperial take-it or leave-it attitude.

Dwight Boud

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