I am genuinely starting to feel sorry for the Republican Party, which has become so adept at shooting itself in the foot over women’s issues that it should probably put a moratorium on discussing them for a while.
The Democrats’ accusation that the GOP has waged a “war on women” has so rattled the party that its pooh-bahs cannot think straight. They keep making the same mistakes over and over. Insanity!
Thursday, at the annual meeting of the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C., once and possibly future presidential candidate Mike Huckabee became the latest Republican to step into the quicksand that women’s issues have become for the GOP. The one-time Arkansas governor and talk show host told a roomful of party officials that Democrats insult women by telling them “they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government.”
Oh dear. Not again.
Here’s a remedial lesson for Gov. Huckabee: That is not what Democrats tell women; it’s what Republicans tell them.
Republicans call women “sluts” because women tell Congress they want access to insurance-covered contraception.
Republicans talk about “legitimate rape.”
Republicans say pregnancies as a result of rape are a “gift from God” and should be carried to term.
Republicans say: “One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about is, I think, the dangers of contraceptives in this country. The whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, ‘Contraception’s OK.’ It is not OK.”
Democrats know that invoking women’s sex drives in conversations about healthcare mandates is demeaning, patronizing and wrong.
What Democrats tell women is that women have the right to comprehensive health coverage, which should include access to contraception -- even if you work at Hobby Lobby.
I don’t really want to get inside their heads too far, but Republicans like Huckabee seem metaphorically stuck in some arrested stage of adolescent development that equates any discussion of reproductive issues with sexuality. Contraception? Hubba hubba. Not.
And here’s what I mean about GOP’s women voter death wish: Huckabee’s faux pas comes exactly two days after CNN’s Peter Hamby reported that the RNC was working on a plan to strike back at the Democrats’ successful “war on women” strategy.
On Friday, the RNC is expected to take up a proposal urging anti-abortion Republicans -- candidates, consultants and political action committees -- to “reject a strategy of silence on the abortion issue when candidates are attacked with ‘war on women’ rhetoric.”
The proposal’s author, Delaware RNC member and anti-abortion activist Ellen Barrosse, told Hamby that she was partly moved to action by the failure of presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli to effectively respond to the “war on women” rhetoric in 2012 and 2013.
She thinks that because the Gallup Poll has since 1975 found some areas of agreement between a majority of Americans and the Republican Party on some aspects of abortion law -- such as parental consent or bans on late-term abortion -- Republicans have an opening.
But they don’t.
Despite the fact that Republican-dominated state legislatures have chipped away at abortion rights for years, the big picture has not changed: a huge majority of Americans believe that abortion should remain legal. This has been the consistent response since Gallup began polling the issue two years after the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.
As this chart shows, only around 20% of Americans believe that abortion should be against the law in all circumstances. That number has been more or less consistent for nearly 40 years.
In a Gallup Poll from last May, 26% said abortion should be legal in all circumstances, and 52% said it should be legal in some circumstances. That’s a combined total of 78% of Americans who believe abortion should remain legal.
At some point, the Republicans will have to understand: Mansplaining women -- as Huckabee did Thursday -- is not helping. The party must find a way to turn women on, not off. Don’t smirk. You know what I mean.