Larry Steckling 6 p.m., March 31
SDQT National Edition: President Obama reverses position on HHS mandate
COVERING THIS STORY LIKE A JIMMY HAT, SAN DIEGO - During a surprise ad-hoc press conference during a fundraising lunch at the home of Mission Hills doyenne Adrienne Hedgefund, the President announced that he had decided to drop the so-called "HHS mandate" that requires employers to include contraception coverage in the insurance they offer to their employees.
"It started while I was having a beer with [Vice-President Joseph] Biden a while back," explained Obama. "Well, I was having a beer; Biden was having four or five. Anyway, the attack on our embassy in Libya was still pretty fresh in our minds, and Biden was feeling defensive on my behalf, bless his heart. Somewhere near the evening's end, he had an aide pull up a YouTube clip on his phone of my comments after we'd learned about [the death of slain ambassador to Libya Christopher] Stevens. He stopped it after the part where I said, 'Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.'
"'Damn straight!' I remember him bellowing. 'You know, as long as they're not a bunch of crazy Catholics who don't wanna pay for condoms.'
"I was struck by my best drinking-buddy's words, especially since he is a Catholic himself, albeit a Catholic who is willing to 'pay for condoms,' as he put it, by ensuring that contraception coverage is provided for by American employers, regardless of their personal beliefs about its moral character. I began to wonder: was he right? Was I somehow denigrating the religious beliefs of others by demanding that they directly fund acts they regarded as intrinsically immoral? I concluded that I was, and so I am dropping the mandate.
"While I'm at it," concluded the President, "I'm going to let those Indians in New Mexico start taking peyote. And if some Santeria person wants to slaughter a goat, who am I to stand in the way? And hey, I just thought of something - wouldn't it just blow [Mormon Presidential candidate Mitt] Romney's mind if I said I supported Mormon polygamy during the next debate?"
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