Apparently it's not just "the economy, stupid." Judging from the president's little moral mea culpa at the White House today, it's also about "just losing our bearings, stupid."
Because losing jobs is one thing, losing our moral compass is quite another.
And for lots of folks in lots of places that matters lots more than experts say. Lots more than even the president thought.
What else could explain his reversal or -- think about it -- Rick Santorum's surge?
In Rick's case, some might call it an anti-Romney thing. But I think it's a much bigger thing. And there is this remarkable, more than just coincidental timing thing. The administration's out-of-the-blue efforts to clamp down on Catholic hospitals and health care providers on this whole contraception thing.
No pun intended, but the White House gave birth to a monster on this one.
And I'm not saying this as a Catholic, which I am. I'm saying this as a human being, which I am more. And as a human being, I kind of resent the way the government just cavalierly decided this issue of birth control permeated matters of church and state -- the equivalent of demanding the Girl Scouts allow boys or the Boy Scouts allow girls.
That silly, that stupid, that needless.
And I don't think I'm alone. Apparently a lot of voters in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado agreed. Exit polls showing many who went for Santorum, did so because they felt he morally spoke to their worries and their unique ethical concerns.
That's not to say that he's the answer or Mitt Romney is not, just that issues of the heart, maybe even the soul, matter a lot. And that a government that can tell a private institution to do something it is morally opposed to do, worries folks a lot.
They say the president was just rallying his base. But ironically this contraception controversy may have just lost him one.
He tried to win it back today with some nice words -- a way for those offended to opt out. It might be too late, Mr. President, because so many of those you long counted on, already have.