Well, this morning the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee met for a hearing with the not-loaded-at-all title “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?”
The panel, which is also the beginning of a good joke, was a Roman Catholic Bishop, a Lutheran Reverend, a rabbi and two professors. All of these witnesses were men. In a panel about contraception. D’Oh!
This is a rookie mistake and someone is going to be fired. The problem for the GOP in continuing to push the contraception issue is the risk that it will damage its standing with suburban women. Given this concern, it should be the top priority of any GOP staffer to minimize every appearance of misogyny, no matter how superficial. Calling a female witness would not change the substance of the testimony it sought, but at least it would blunt the counter message that women are completely locked out of the process. I mean, there’s at least one nun in the world who could testify. Make that phone call!
And then, the committee decided to double down on this mistake by allowing the Democrats one witness and then denying their female witness a place on the panel (this could have been a cynical move as well — the Democrats invited a female Georgetown student to discuss the impact of the proposed exclusion of contraception coverage and the GOP argued that she was unqualified to testify on the topic — there was probably a female theologist the Dems could have called that the GOP would have been forced to accept). This led to a walkout from two legislators at the hearing and are now being interviewed on TV and setting the narrative.
Just bad work all around for the GOP. This is the big leagues, people! You can’t make these oversights and you definitely cannot double down when called on it.