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The Great Obama Blunder

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

President Obama and his wife, the health nanny in chief, obviously don't know when they've gone too far in their crusade to socialize and Obamatize America.

They couldn't stop pushing for the Obamacare mandate that would force religious organizations to pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization for their employees regardless of the institution's moral or religious objections.

Now the Obamas are sorry. They've awakened the sleeping giant -- the Catholic Church. And they're going to pay the political price.

Last week the University of Notre Dame and 42 other Catholic institutions sued the administration to overturn the mandate, which would also apply to all employees of a church's social services, such as schools, hospitals and food banks.

It's not just a bureaucratic fight over who Barack and Michelle think should be forced to provide contraception for their employees -- without fees or co-pays.

The mandate is an attack on the First Amendment's protection against federal meddling in religion. As Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins wrote, what's at issue is the freedom of a religious organization to "live its mission."

In addition to the lawsuits, U.S. bishops have called for all Catholics to engage in 14 days of "prayer, study, catechesis and public action" on religious liberty from June 21 to the Fourth of July.

The Obama campaign, which didn't count on such a forceful response by the Catholic Church, has managed to give Republicans a huge gift in the middle of a presidential campaign.

By standing up to the Obama administration on moral grounds and engaging it on an important social issue, the church has in effect joined forces with Romney. It keeps him from being distracted by issues designed to make him look anti-women and allows him to concentrate on what ultimately will make or break his campaign -- economic issues.

The Obama Blunder is also going to hurt him with Democrat voters. It'll only make it harder for him to recapture the votes of all those working-class Catholics in Ohio and western Pennsylvania, where the Obama thrill is already gone.

Meanwhile, the blunder also greatly helps Romney with Hispanics, who are predominately Democrats and virtually all socially conservative Catholics.

Hispanic voters usually focus on a single issue -- immigration reform -- and that is never good for Republicans. But the church's revolt against one of Obamacare's most oppressive rules has taken immigration off the table and given Hispanics a principled reason to vote for a Republican president.

Mr. and Mrs. Obama still don't get it. Only hours after the Catholic bishops announced their legal challenge, the first nanny was stumping in Cleveland and talking tough about Obamacare.

"You can tell people how, because we passed health reform, insurance companies will now have to cover preventive care -- have to. Things like contraception, cancer screenings, prenatal care -- and they have to do it at no extra cost. People have to understand that's what that fight was for."

That's what the Obamacare fight was all about -- promising voters that companies and organizations will "have to" provide health care to their employees "at no extra cost." The Catholic Church, which hasn't exactly been a good ally in the war against big government liberalism, has learned that Obamacare's rules about employees being provided with "free" contraceptives apply to them too, and they don't like it

All I can say is, "Go, bishops. Give the Obamas hell."

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