War on Women Update

Dave Weigel has moved from Slate to Bloomberg News, at at Bloomberg he tells us that the GOP has a bigger and bigger problem with women voters.

The most interesting part, to me, is that in many races around the country Republicans are having to backstep and fudge and are genuinely on the defensive about their stands on “women’s issues,” including abortion. I can remember not many years ago it was conventional wisdom that socially liberal candidates should probably not discuss abortion unless directly asked about it, and then frame all responses in “safe, legal and rare” language.

But now the tables are turned, at least in some parts of the country, and now it’s Republican candidates who have to be careful to not come across as too extremely anti-choice. It seems the overreach of many Republican state legislators, as well as Republicans in Washington, to deny women not just abortion but even reasonable access to birth control has finally triggered the realization that Republicans are dangerous to women.

Again, looking back, I remember the “wink” campaign of George W. Bush in 2000. Dubya was explicitly anti-choice, but he had plenty of women surrogates winking at voters and saying, in effect, he doesn’t mean it. He has to say that to get elected. His mother is pro-choice; his wife is pro-choice. Don’t worry about it. But this truth is that Dubya never saw a women’s rights-restricting bill he wasn’t eager to sign. Fool me once, etc.

In Michigan, for example, Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land ran what was supposed to be a “killer” ad pooh-poohing (with silence) the very idea that she was part of the war on women. Voters weren’t fooled; she’s now trailing her Democratic opponent among women voters by 17 points. “Land’s defense of her agenda that cuts access to mammograms, restricts access to contraception, and opposes equal pay for women is summed up in that now infamous 14 seconds of silence,” a Democratic spokesperson said.

I don’t think that Republicans entirely grasp that female genitalia do not a pro-women candidate make. It’s the issues, stupid.

Amanda Marcotte wrote recently that Republicans around the country are running away from “culture war” issues, notably same-sex marriage and access to birth control, and this is causing a rift between the GOP and the religious Right. Marcotte adds,

It’s almost possible to feel a small twinge of pity for the true believers on the religious right. For decades now, the Republican party has depended on them to endorse right wing ideology as a religious belief and to organize voters to get Republicans elected. But now the religious right is finding they only love you if they need you. Of course, religious conservatives shouldn’t fret too much. Just because Republican politicians may not want to engage in the culture war now doesn’t mean they won’t return to pushing the religious right’s agenda against gays and women once safely ensconced in office.

That’s probably true, although if (please) women’s votes cost the GOP the Senate in November, the next wink campaign may be aimed at religious conservatives.

4 thoughts on “War on Women Update

  1. maha,
    Sweetheart, baby-doll, poopsie, honey, take it easy on the “Christian” right! 😉
    They just want to make sure that we’ll all make it to their Heaven.
    With wings.
    And poofy clouds…
    And boring harp music.
    And having to laugh at every joke Jesus, his pals, or his Dad, make.

    Ah, f*ck ’em all!!!

    If Hell has sex, drugs, booze, and R&R, put me down for THAT!!!

  2. What’s funniest to me, is how oblivious and obtuse the Republican candidates of both sexes are, about women’s rights.

    They’ve been winking and nodding in their own little echo-chamber for so lont that they don’t realize that people outside that chamber no longer see that winking and nodding as a bit of an affectation, but a sign of a serious misogynistic mental disease!

  3. The Democrats and Republicans have switched positions in a number of ways over the past few years. I remember reading an article 10 or 15 years ago about how the Republicans had a large, reliable network of small donors (mostly organized through churches) while Democratic candidates depended much more on the whims of a few very well-healed contributors. The reverse is true now.

    The article also made the point that Republicans had developed a brand identity that encouraged their supporters to identify with Republican positions in or out of a campaign, while the Democrats tended to pick one major issue each campaign (e.g. health care) and try to rally people around it. I don’t think the reverse is entirely true yet, but the trend is in that direction. Democratic candidates still tend to be cautious about taking positions on issues like reproductive choice, but as you say, Republicans do a lot more flailing around than they used to. One candidate picks small government as his issue, and the next guy over picks banning abortion. One guy talks about a return to responsible government, the next guy wants to shut everything down. Even the RNC has trouble articulating what the party really supports.

    The guy who wrote the article was lamenting the fact that the Democrats’ way of doing things was what led them to defeat after defeat in the 1970s and 80s, so I’m inclined to be cautiously optimistic about the Democrats’ chances over the next decade or so.

  4. Huckabee threatened this week to leave the GOP over the lack of outrage when the USSC declined to hear cases on same-sex marriage. Candidates are moving away from the extreme positions of the fundamentalist base. The kooks have lost on gay rights – candidates are realizing that they are vulnerable for endorsing the whole nine yards of the fetus people. Women aren’t buying into attempts to limit contraception.

    Strategists for the fundamentalist wing of the GOP must see their political influence in decline. Candidates may decide that platitudes are enough to placate the fetus people, since these folks won’t EVER vote for a democrat. If the fetus people think they are being ignored, they will pick up their marbles and quit the game. Third party or voter boycott. Pair that sentiment with the dissatisfaction of the Tea Party faction, who doesn’t trust the establishment wing of the GOP.

    See Thad Cochrin, where the establishment won by appealing to black voters, or the TP guy who knocked off Eric Cantor, playing to anti-establishment TP themes. The establishment wing is not getting along with the TP and vice versa. The ONLY thing that’s holding the alliance – establishment, Tea Party and fundamentalists – together at all is a shared, sincere and irrational hatred of all things liberal. At some point the lust for power will overcome the glue that’s worked so far, and all hell will break loose.

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