If anything positive comes out of the contraception mandate brouhaha–other than, perhaps, some shred of a contraception mandate–it will be to bury once and for all the once-confident Beltway pundit belief that this year, finally, we’d have a presidential contest in which all those atavistic religion-and-rights based fights over “divisive” cultural issues would go away, making the fiscal and economic issues most Beltway pundits care about the only thing on the table. That’s why Mitch Daniels with his “culture issues truce” suggestion was such a hot commodity, and in some circles, still is.

But that sure ain’t where the wind’s blowing at the moment. Check out this Dave Weigel report from the beginning of today’s CPAC session:

Mike Huckabee opened the second day of CPAC with a predictable message for a packed room: Don’t forget social issues! The backlash against the administration’s conscience rule nix-out had proven how important these issues were.

“Thanks to President Obama,” said Huckabee, “we are all Catholics now!”

But after that, Huckabee — who has remained neutral between candidates, and come off as warm towards Mitt Romney — linked together the legality of abortion with the rise of economic uncertainty. Revisiting an old pro-life trope, he wondered how much stronger the economy might be if 50,000,000 fetuses hadn’t been aborted. The failure to recognize life as starting at conception bled into all sorts of social norms.

So suddenly, it seems, the tail is truly wagging the dog: the answer to our economics problem is a fertility festival! Wonder if that’s what Rick Santorum really means with his promise of “supply-side economics for the working man”?

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.