Bill Murchison

The thing about Mike Huckabee is that the uproar he occasioned over federal provision of contraception reveals the depth and extent of modern America's moral/cultural dysfunction.

Will we get around to talking about it once the uproar dies down? Not likely. The matter is too hot -- meaning too fundamental. It speaks to personal identity questions never heretofore raised in American life and unresolved for that very reason.

Let us recount. In a weekend speech, the TV host and former Arkansas Republican governor assailed the idea that women depended on the government for access to "a prescription each month for birth control," being unable otherwise to "control their libido or their reproductive system." "Libido" is a Freudian word I believe I have heard only in a movie, one starring -- was it Tony Randall? Can't remember and don't care. It means, according to the American Heritage Dictionary "sexual desire ... Manifestation of the sexual drive."

Vesuvius erupted, at all events. According to bloggers and pundits, Huckabee had insulted women -- the very reverse, he insisted to Fox News' Megyn Kelly, of what he had meant. He had meant to signal opposition to "Democrats' treating women as though they are somehow incapable of being able to function unless the Democrats and particularly the government comes in to rescue them."

She said, he said, she said in return ... on and on. The Huck -- one of American politics' outstanding speakers -- can take care of himself. The matter is larger than a televised contretemps.

It has come to this? That life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness means the federal provision of birth control? And that, if you insist otherwise, you should avoid dark alleys on the way home?

This would have been, to the founding fathers, a remarkable claim and not simply on account of their -- by modern standards -- small-government convictions.

There was first the matter of sex -- a private matter, a religious matter -- not a part of public policy at all. The liberty claimed nowadays regarding contraception was a liberty practiced by man and woman, husband and wife, with obeisance only to God.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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