Every sports fan knows that close contests are often decided by mistakes rather than heroics. In this year's Super Bowl, Tom Brady threw just one interception, but Eli Manning didn't throw any. Manning's team won.
What's especially disheartening for fans are unforced errors. Right now, President Obama's fans have reason to worry about a substantive unforced error that threatens his support among Catholic voters.
The Obama administration recently ruled that all insurance policies must offer contraceptive services with no co-payments required. In and of itself, that decision is neither positive nor negative. Forty-three percent of voters favor it, while 46 percent are opposed.
That mandate violates the beliefs of some churches. Normally, religious exemptions are granted in such cases, but not this time. Thirty-nine percent support the administration on this point, while 50 percent are opposed. Even worse for the White House, support for the ruling comes primarily from people who rarely attend church. That's a group that voted strongly for Obama in 2008 and continues to support him today. In other words, no upside.
But, among Catholics, only 28 percent believe religious organizations should be required to implement rules that conflict with church doctrine. Sixty-five percent are opposed. This is true even though many Catholics disagree with church teachings on birth control.
The impact is stunning since 54 percent of Catholics voted for President Obama in 2008. Today, just 39 percent of Catholic voters approve of the way he's doing his job.
Perhaps some strategists thought that Catholics would welcome government help in battling the church on birth control. But Catholics who disagree with the church deal with the situation in the privacy of their own bedroom. They don't need federal help. In fact, it is hard to imagine any person of faith wanting the federal government to have any say in church doctrine and how Holy Scripture should be applied.
While Team Obama wanted to debate contraception, the Catholic League's Bill Donahue said it was unprecedented "for the federal government to line up against the Roman Catholic Church." Even The Washington Post, hometown paper for America's Political Class, thought the administration ruling went too far and "does not make an adequate accommodation for those deeply held views." When the Post thinks you've gone too far in imposing federal authority, it's a sure sign that you're pretty far out on a limb.