Women’s Issues are like an Imaginary War on Caterpillars because ?Posted: April 5, 2012
Republicans are denying they have a woman problem. They are using less-than-artful metaphors. Several elected state officials have compared our pregnancies to those of livestock. Now, our disgust with defunding of planned parenthood and restricting access to birth control are just basically an imaginary insect invasion dreamed up by the likes of James Carville. Yup, the head of the RNC thinks that the War on Women’s reproductive and workplace rights are imaginary and akin to a War on Caterpillars.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus talked himself into some trouble this morning after accusing the media of creating a fake gender war and comparing it to a “war on caterpillars.”
“If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars,” Priebus said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” set to air this weekend. “It’s a fiction.”
Priebus appeared on the show with Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the pair debated gender issues, including contraception and requiring women to undergo ultrasounds before getting an abortion.
While Priebus blamed the media for blowing the debate out of proportion, Wasserman Schultz took the opportunity to blast Republicans for their stance on several of these issues.
“The jury of women across America have ruled that the Republicans have been unbelievably extreme and out of touch and hyper-focused on cultural issues,” Wasserman Schultz said on Bloomberg.
Yup, we’ve gone from livestock to insects in the minds of key Republican officials. You can watch this morning’s Caterpillar Catastrophe here. Don’t forget the Georgia “Women as Livestock” bill that severely restricts a woman’s constitutional right to abortion access.
Commonly referred to as the “fetal pain bill” by Georgian Republicans and as the “women as livestock bill” by everyone else, HB 954 garnered national attention this month when state Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn) compared pregnant women carrying stillborn fetuses to the cows and pigs on his farm. According to Rep. England and his warped thought process, if farmers have to “deliver calves, dead or alive,” then a woman carrying a dead fetus, or one not expected to survive, should have to carry it to term.
Romney supporters have been scrambling to recover the number of women fleeing the party. They insist that women have the same concerns that men do and that the democrats are simply inventing their anti-women positions. Yet, Romney has recently reversed his old positions on women’s health to win right wing voters by adopting the anti-women positions of Santorum and others. Romney supported the Blunt amendment in a direct reversal of earlier comments that indicated a women’s access to birth control was a private matter. Here’s his latest anti-women primary positions.
1. He’s going to ‘get rid of’ Planned Parenthood. In his most blatant attack on basic women’s services, Romney made this claim: “Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that.” Of course, as a Presidential candidate Romney surely knows that Planned Parenthood provides essential medical services, primarily to low-income women, including mammograms and pap smears, as well as important family planning services. Romney has pledged to defund Title X, a program that provides family planning services.
2. Romney supports the Blunt Amendment which would allow employers to deny health insurance coverage on the basis of moral objections — a rule aimed at allowing employers to opt out of providing benefits that undermined their consciences, including contraceptive coverage. But as governor of Massachusetts, Romney required all health care providers– including Catholic hospitals — to offer emergency contraception to rape victims.
3. Romney is fighting a covert battle against contraception, even if he is doing his best not to call it that. While Romney used to be firmly pro-choice and pro-contraceptives, he has positioned himself in the campaign to be a fighter of morality, saying that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposes a “secular vision on America” by requiring employers to provide contraceptives in their insurance coverage. He is also misleading the public on what the ACA will do for women.
4. Romney failed to condemn Rush Limbaugh’s characterization of Sandra Fluke as a “slut.” Romney said “it’s not the language I would have used,” but refused to go any further in condemning Limbaugh’s attacks on the Georgetown Law student who testified in support of the ACA’s contraceptive rule. In not standing up for basic women’s rights, Romney’s complacency is as good as consent.
5. Romney supports restricting access to abortions. He has called Roe v. Wade “one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history.” He’s even said that he’d support state constitutional amendments to define life at conception, which would effectively outlaw abortions under any circumstance.
Romney and his campaign have decided to use wife Ann as a way to woo women. Instead of finding out what women want, Romney says he asks his wife.
But Mitt Romney is running for president and he’s talking about the majority of the American electorate like a strange, exotic species to be fully understood only by someone who knows their strange, native ways.
His answer played exactly into the caricature that has emerged of him– incapable of relating to ordinary Americans (in this case women) and so disconnected from reality that he needs a scout to go out into the wilds of normal America and come back with a full report for him to digest on his own.
He could supplement Mrs. Romney’s field reports to him about female voters with some of the data found deep within the swing state poll, which showed that women’s top priorities going into November are health care, gas prices and unemployment. The deficit comes right after that, but what comes in dead last for women’s own priorities going into the election? Government policies toward contraception.
On that score, Romney seems to be paying for the sins of his party. Although he has not raised the issue on his own, the Republican Party itself seems to have made women’s access to contraception and abortion a top priority over the last several months and alarmed independent and moderate women in the process. Although women in the poll didn’t call the issue a priority for themselves, a majority said they were following the debate on the issue very closely or somewhat closely.
It certainly isn’t helping Romney for Santorum to be out pushing social issues. Here’s some of the numbers that show that women aren’t buying the Republican arguments. Romney is facing up to an 18% gender gap right now.
A much discussed USA Today poll shows that Romney is headed for defeat because his party is unattractive to women. At the moment, Romney leads Obama among men by 48 to 47 percent; but he trails among women, 54 to 36 percent. The gender gap is wide enough to re-elect the president by a landslide of 51 to 42 percent.
A lot of pundits have leapt on the idea that the recent debates over government-funded or mandated contraception have made the GOP brand toxic to women. But the USA Today poll indicates that the issue’s impact is rather more qualified than that.
Both men and women rate “government policies on birth control” as the least important question in 2012, and 63 percent of them don’t even know where Romney stands on it. About the same proportion dislikes Romney’s position (24 percent) as much as they do Obama’s (25 percent).
The real gender gap in the USA Today poll is that men think the deficit is the most important issue while women think it’s health care. In short, independent women voters are more exercised about the GOP’s opposition to “Obamacare” than they are its objection to free contraception.
Add to all of this the state-level attacks on public education, abortion access, and public worker unions. Many teachers and state employees are women. These are the bread-and-butter issues that Republicans think they can use to win women? As a side note, McCain’s gender gap was 13 percent. Romney has not only spent time railing against planned parenthood but taking “severely conservative” positions on issues of importance to hispanic women.
During the primary, Romney — who has described his record as “severely conservative” — has touted his opposition to abortion rights, backed legislation to allow some employers to deny health insurance coverage for contraception, and said he would stop funding Planned Parenthood, a women’s health organization that provides cancer screenings, routine examinations, and abortion services.
Romney’s problem with Hispanic voters is even more pronounced after he rejected proposals to allow illegal immigrants a path to legalization, including a bill known as the DREAM Act to let undocumented residents brought to the country as babies or young children obtain citizenship if they attend college or join the military. A poll released last month by Fox News Latino found Romney’s support among likely Latino voters at 14 percent. Obama had the backing of 70 percent of respondents in that poll.
And the most recent Gallup poll conducted March 25-26 found Romney trailing the president among independent voters, 40 percent to Obama’s 48 percent.
“Obviously you have to close the gender gap some, and we definitely need an active campaign in the Hispanic community,” said Charlie Black, a Republican campaign strategist who is advising Romney. Romney also needs to spend time, he added, “cleaning up a little bit of any negative perceptions that were created in the primary — and of course, you have to go back and check and make sure your base will rally around you.”
So, can Mr. Etcha Sketch change any one’s mind given that the Republican convention is going to have its socially radical agenda front and center for all to see? Gingrich and Santorum are not going quietly into the night even though they have stopped winning elections. It will be interesting to see how women, GLBT, Hispanics, and the black communities react to Tea Party hysteria on prime time TV. As an independent woman, I can say I am not happy with the lack of support given women by the Democratic party, but the Republicans are now scaring the living daylights out of me. My daughters and I are not livestock or insects and the obvious orchestrated attack on our rights is not all in our heads or the political strategy of the DNC.