The really bad gaffes in politics are the ones that crystallize an image voters hold, perhaps only half-formed or subconsciously, into a firm (negative) opinion that’s impossible to shake. (E.g., Dan Quayle misspelling potato, or Bill Clinton “depends on the meaning of is”.)
This mess with forcing Catholic institutions to violate their faith is a self-inflicted wound the Obama administration will soon reverse but won’t soon live down. It reinforces so much of what we critics have said since 2008: the authoritarian streak, the hostility to faith, the undemocratic processes, the dishonesty of the entire initiative.
The president may recover from the electoral damage but I suspect this most recent attempt at progressive coercion has just increased the odds that the Supreme Court – with its 5 Catholic Justices, including the perceived swing vote – will rule his healthcare plan unconstitutional.
Ironically, and as a consolation prize, BHO’s flirtation with “the anti-Semitism of intellectuals” may help with his re-election if it takes the issue off the table.