Nancy Pelosi, good Roman Catholic she, orchestrates Sandra Fluke's testimony against the Catholic Church's 1st Amendment rights. Did Pelosi miscalculate? President Obama began the contraception kerfuffle with the Catholic Church, and then backed off -- rhetorically a wee bit -- but artfully seeks to impose his contraception mandate on Catholic organization insurers. The president's rhetoric may be flexible, but not his aim, which he seeks to satisfy through modest redirection.
The short-sighted may see Mr. Obama's 1st Amendment challenge as a botch politically, an election year goof that's going to cost Democrats in November. That may well be, but that estimate fails to appreciate that the president and the left aren't about one election; they're about radically altering the nation -- its morality, society, culture, and adherence to faith. That's a long-term project, with its beginnings in the early 20th century.
For all the talk on the right about how "political" the left is, it's important to grasp that politics is a means, not an end, for leftists. It's doubtful that Mr. Obama wants to lose his re-election bid; congressional Democrats certainly don't want electoral setbacks. But the president and Democrats "get" the game. They get that a particular election is a battle, not the entire war. No one battle lost over many decades has proven fatal to the left's goals. The Reagan presidency didn't, either.
Mr. Obama is steeped in leftist doctrine; his presidency is about advancing statist goals. The president and leftists possess a sort of Asiatic patience and persistence.
President Obama once mused about being a one-term president. Don't doubt that the notion still lurks in the back of the president's mind. But undercutting the 1st Amendment to diminish churches as rivals to Washington's power and authority may be an acceptable tradeoff to another term in office -- if the tradeoff is a tipping point.