Plan B, the White House, and The X-Files:
If you think about it, of course HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA's decision to allow the Plan B emergency contraception to be sold over-the-counter with no age restrictions. Can you imagine the Republican ads in 2012? "President Obama thinks it's okay for 13-year old girls to abort their children without parental consent," they'd lie. "Mitt Romney is pretty sure that's wrong." There's an election in less than a year. And your precious science and "facts" and "rights" have no place here.
After the health care debate and its ensuing messaging debacle, where the President and Democrats seemed to forget how to explain anything to anyone without sounding like the keynote speaker at an actuary convention, the White House has avoided speaking out and pushing for anything that doesn't already have majority support or is impossible to turn against Obama. Some of the time, it works out, like raising taxes on the wealthy. Sometimes it doesn't, as with this decision. It's a frankly disgusting and disappointing way to run a government.
The Rude Pundit would bet that some White House insider would say that it was more important to take abortion off the table as an issue in the presidential election, even if Plan B is a contraceptive, not an abortifacient, and, really, the anti-choice yahoos need to make a decision here on whether life begins at conception or at ejaculation. He bets that that insider would tell women of all ages not to worry, that the decision would be changed in a second Obama term, that that's just the way the world works.
The Obama administration now seems like a television series that has lost its plot thread. The Rude Pundit remembers watching The X-Files back in the day, believing that the mysteries and mythology would have a resolution by the end of its run, that the creators of the show knew the arc and knew the conclusion. So you'd get a great episode involving aliens and conspiracies in the government one week. And then the next week you'd get David Duchovny being beaten up by a talking ape. But you stuck with it, thinking that it would all pay off, that your loyalty would be rewarded. Who is the Smoking Man? What is the truth about Mulder's sister? And the twists would be layered on. Oh, what with the chip in Scully's neck? That's intriguing.
Finally, though, call it "jumping the shark" or "nuking the fridge" or whatever cutesy phrase you want, you finally realized that, despite series creator Chris Carter's protestations otherwise, you were being suckered, that there would be no satisfaction at the end, that the only goal was to make more money for Fox TV by staying on the air. The Rude Pundit gave up on the show before it ended, gruesomely and pathetically, in its ninth season. Friends of his, true believers, tried to convince him that he needed to hang in there, that there would be more answers, more moments of satisfaction, but once he was done, he was done.
Yeah, there were some excellent spooky and weird hours along the way. But we were promised answers. Instead, we got Annabelle Gish and Robert Patrick. The Rude Pundit never regretted bailing. He figured he'd just do something more rewarding with his time. (Lost fans can probably relate.)
So it is with the presidency of Barack Obama. Any time you attempt to say that you're sick of the cynical way the White House takes the left for granted, you're given a list of things that Obama has accomplished, as if somehow you were denying that he did those things. Yeah, he did accomplish an overhaul of the health care system that has benefited Americans in ways large and small. Yeah, he did get Osama bin Laden and is, at least to an extent, winding down the Iraq war. Yeah, yeah, fine, fine. But this isn't a case of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately.
The Rude Pundit wants to believe that there's an ideology at work, a path, if you will, to what Obama wants to achieve as a president. And, no matter what you say about Republicans in Congress blocking his way, it seems that, often, even when it's purely executive branch matters, there is no ideology at work, either - just political calculations, as with the Plan B decision, or the continuing concentration of power in the executive, as with indefinite detention and drone assassinations.
When he ran the first time, Obama created a narrative about the nation and its possibilities. That narrative has been abandoned for the sake of expediency, out of fear of the right, with barely any nods towards it anymore. He might say that the exigencies of the contemporary political and economic and foreign policy landscapes have forced changes in the storyline, but that the goal is ultimately the same. We just need to keep believing him. And, c'mon, liberals, what choice do you have?
Chris Carter said that 9/11 was the cause of the end of The X-Files. But it was dead long before the excuse came along because it lost its way for the sake of merely lurching forward.