The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s hearings yesterday indicated, if any indication was necessary, that the debate over the HHS mandates is shifting in two ways, both of which make it more difficult for those Catholics, including the bishops, to make their case that they should be exempt from any mandate that violates their First Amendment rights.
First, the issue now enters the smog of partisan wrangling. “Smog” is a portmanteau derived from smoke and fog. The smoke, in this case, suggest smoke and mirrors, a lot of political rhetoric which may or may not correspond to any actual legislative objective and, instead, is designed for political effect. The fog is even more dangerous, suggesting the fog of war, in which it is difficult to discern the situation on the ground and the risk of friendly fire is vastly increased. Both smoke and fog becloud one’s vision and therefore one’s judgment.