• The Daily Beast

    GOP: Divide And Conquer Women

    In the latest attempt to defuse the left’s ‘war on women’ rhetoric, Republicans are trying to flatter white, married women as “good” while portraying single women as libidinous parasites.

    Common wisdom in the political media is that Republicans have a woman problem. GOP politicians on both the state and federal level attack legal abortion with an obsession rivaling Captain Ahab. Attacks on contraception have grown more shrill, culminating in Mike Huckabee’s instantly notorious RNC speech wherein he claimed Democrats who support contraception access are telling women they can’t control “their libidos.” A number of Republican politicians, most notably Todd Akin, lost in the last election after making offensive remarks about rape victims. The phrase “the Republican war on women” approached “Just Do It” levels of cultural recognition. Most importantly, Barack Obama was handed the White House because of women: 55 percent of women voted for Obama in 2012, but men voted for Romney at 52 percent. Women vote more than men, making the Republican’s woman problem seemingly intractable. Women hate the Republicans, end of story, right?

    Republicans, unsurprisingly, disagree that it’s a lost cause, and have spent the past year dumping huge amounts of money on consultants and prodding politicians into meetings to craft a new strategy when it comes to women. The goal isn’t exactly to win the majority of female votes during a presidential election, which Republicans haven’t done since 1988. The goal is more to derail the “war on women” narrative, and in the early part of 2014, it seems they’ve landed on a strategy that is as brilliant as it is simple: Deny that “women” constitutes a meaningful category that anyone can make broad statements about. Instead, Republicans intend to say that while they don’t speak for all women, they certainly speak for some women, and because of that, it’s false to say they are warring on “women.” If effective, that will make it harder for Republican opponents to use the phrase “war on women” without getting bogged down in a derailing discussion about what women and who feels warred upon.

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  • Joe Robbins/Getty

    No Pink

    The GOP Can Learn from the NFL

    Advertisers during the football games have started to realize that women are among the viewers and don’t just want pink, girly products. Politicians should take note.

    This Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup between the Broncos and the Seahawks will pit two extremely impressive football teams against one another on the field. Bruno Mars will perform. And many, many people will tune in to watch the ads.

    Super Bowl ads are infamous, in large part because they are what Nielsen calls “the most expensive 30 seconds on TV.” With millions of bucks on the line, advertisers aim to one-up each other with the funniest, most memorable spots. And let’s be honest—most of the ads are for the guys.  It’s not just during the Super Bowl, though; tune in any given football Sunday to be treated to an assortment of ads for dudes, selling dude stuff, and doing dude things. (Also possibly featuring a woman in a bikini or a woman being a buzzkill.)

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  • Bill Clark/Getty

    Faux Concern

    Hypocrisy on Privacy and The Pill

    Birth control and data mining used to be things they believed in, now both are Big Government plots to be stopped.

    I’m sure you chuckled at this weekend development as much as I did: At its winter meeting, the Republican National Committee, , passed a resolution condemning the NSA’s data-mining policy. The language about “unwarranted” government surveillance being an “intrusion on basic human rights” passed by voice vote, with only a few dissenters.

    This is being read in the media as evidence for the party’s continuing turn away from war-mongery, Ari Fleischer-style, “watch what you say and do” Big Brotherism and toward a Pauline (as in Rand) libertarianism. And I wouldn’t deny that there’s something to that. The libertarian streak is very in vogue on the right, and neocons can’t seem to get Americans agitated about anything.

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  • Eric Gay/AP; Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT, via Getty

    Flashback

    When Wendy Davis Was a Republican

    The Democratic hopeful for Texas governor proved she had chops as a local Republican pol. The GOP would do well to remember when she was one of theirs.

    So what do we know about Wendy Davis, Texas state senator turned gubernatorial candidate and Democratic “It” Girl? With her up-from-nothing backstory and Harvard Law degree, the woman is clearly smart, savvy, ambitious, and determined. (There’s no question that she grasps the value of a moving personal narrative.) In her five years in Austin, she has amassed one of the senate’s most liberal voting records. She does not shy from a fight, and she has a flair for political theater to make Ted Cruz envious. (Her filibuster of anti-abortion legislation was, it bears recalling, not her first such rodeo.) People have gone ga-ga over the legislator’s sporty pink kicks.

    Unsurprisingly, the hard-charging, mediagenic Davis has become a hero to women’s group (Emily’s List, nursing a major crush, cheers her as “an inspiring national heroine.”) Anxious Republicans, meanwhile, are sharpening their claws. One particularly troglodytic right-winger—laboring to cement conservatives’ image as sexist jackasses—refers to Davis as “Abortion Barbie.” Get it? She supports women’s reproductive rights and is a comely blonde. What more do voters need to know?

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  • Susan Walsh/AP

    ‘Uncle Sugar’

    Why Women Do Not ♥ Huckabee

    What galaxy do Republican men live in? Apparently one where ladies who use contraception are ‘helpless’ and this potential 2016 contender could have been the fifth Beatle.

    A few weeks ago, right after the dark clouds gathered over Chris Christie’s presidential prospects, some friends and I were having the usual Washington conversation of discussing the rest of the field. After we agreed that it was an awfully B-list bench, someone piped up: Hey, don’t forget Mike Huckabee! He’s losing all the weight!

    Clearly, some of that vaporized body mass came out of his brain matter, based on his unhinged comments Wednesday at the Republican Party’s winter meeting. Discussing the GOP’s need to get more of the women’s vote, he said the Democratic Party tells women “they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.”

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  • Joe Raedle/Getty

    GOP's Birth-Control Trojan Horse

    The right wants to use religion as an excuse to legally discriminate against gays and unmarried women—and, ultimately, anyone who doesn’t share their Christian faith.

    Ever since the Obama administration included contraception in the list of services that insurers must cover for clients without a copay, conservatives have been on the attack. As far as most right-wing media is concerned—and definitely as far as the average conservative on the ground is concerned—the problem with the mandate is that it supposedly forces others to “pay for” a woman’s “lifestyle” choice.

    Even though the insurance policies in question actually belong to the women, who usually earned them as part of their compensation packages at work or who paid for directly with premiums, conservatives routinely portray women who use their own insurance to pay for their own medicine as layabouts forcing other people pay for their birth control. Some conservatives even go so far as to erroneously claim that taxpayers are footing the bill for insurance companies to cover contraception.

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  • (From left to right) Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA), U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman pose before the Republican Party presidential candidates debate in Sioux City, Iowa, on December 15, 2011. (Jeff Haynes/Reuters)

    On Message

    Hey, GOP, Here’s How to Coach Men

    Politico reports that the Republicans are training male candidates how to run against women. Here’s what they should be teaching instead.

    It was recently revealed that Republicans, presumably in a desperate attempt to resuscitate their “autopsy” after the 2012 election, have been coaching male candidates about how to run against women in elections. The details of the trainings, as reported by Politico, are rather sparse. So it’s up to the rest of us to use our imaginations. Don’t mind if I do…

    Thus, below, is my informed rendering of what we might imagine Republican operatives are coaching other Republicans to do or not do in the future to avoid such disasters as Todd Akin, Trent Franks and Saxby Chambliss. And then, because I like to be helpful, I’ve also offered my suggestions for what such operatives might teach GOP candidates instead.

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  • Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call, via Getty; Alex Wong/Getty; Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

    She’s a Lady

    Nine Women Remaking the Right

    They’re talented, they’re diverse, and they have almost nothing to do with the mess in Washington. Patricia Murphy on nine women breathing new life into the GOP.

    While the Republican National Committee brass writes autopsies for the party’s 2012 losses and GOP lawmakers in Congress fight with each other over who's a true conservative and who's a wacko bird, a new generation of Republican women is breathing new life into the Grand Old Party. Here, nine GOP women with the potential to revitalize the right. If you haven't heard of them yet, you will.

    1. Susana Martinez

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  • Liz Cheney takes questions from the press during a campaign appearance in Casper, Wyoming on July 17. (Matt Young/AP)

    Senate Challenge

    Lean In, Liz

    Michelle Cottle is all for women being aggressive—just so long as Cheney doesn’t win that Senate seat.

    For the record, I warned everyone this day would come: that Liz Cheney would move to assume her father’s mantle as bloodthirsty overlord of the political scene.

    Now, admittedly, I thought Liz might start with something more modest, like a House seat. Or wait until one of Wyoming’s sitting Republican senators decided to retire. Or maybe run in a state where she has lived for more than 15 minutes. (Don’t give me that fourth-generation Wyoming drivel. Both sides of my family hail from Alabama for as far back as anyone can recall. That doesn’t make me a local.) Then again, the Senate has a fine history of carpetbaggery; far too many members of both houses of Congress cling to office until they can’t chew their own food; and, really, there’s only so long the human body can contain the combustible mix of ambition, neocon zeal, and how-dare-you-talk-smack-about-my-dad fury visibly fueling Dick’s elder daughter.

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  • Former Presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry delivers a speech to a large audience in attendance at a national convention on abortion. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

    Tone Deaf

    The GOP’s Abortion Obsession

    Despite the Republicans’ election-season flub with female voters, the party’s radical fringe is as focused as ever on overturning Roe V. Wade. Michelle Goldberg on what this means for upcoming primaries.

    Less than four months ago, a Republican task force commissioned by RNC chair Reince Priebus released a blunt report—colloquially known as the autopsy—urging the party to abandon its obsessive Kulturkampf. “When it comes to social issues, the Party must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming,” said the report. “If we are not, we will limit our ability to attract young people and others, including many women, who agree with us on some but not all issues.”

    Since then, the House of Representatives passed a bill banning abortion at 20 weeks, with no exception for severe fetal anomalies—anomalies that are often not detectable before 20 weeks. There’s been an explosion of anti-abortion legislation in the states, including a ban on abortion as early as 6 weeks in North Dakota. Ohio passed a budget bill defunding Planned Parenthood and imposing stringent new requirements that could close a third of the state’s abortion clinics. Despite Wendy Davis’s valiant, star-making stand in Texas, Republicans are close to ramming through legislation that will shutter most abortion clinics in that state. Late Tuesday night, North Carolina Republicans added anti-abortion regulations to a bill meant to prohibit Sharia law. If passed, it will leave only one clinic standing. Meanwhile, the Weekly Standard reports that Mark Rubio will spearhead a Senate version of the House’s 20-week abortion ban.

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  • Phil Bryant, Saxby Chambliss. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP, Alex Brandon/AP)

    PARTY LINES

    Are We in the Midst of Another War?

    Democrats ready to pounce after spate of negative comments about women.

    According to Politico, the war on women has returned. Just this week, Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss blamed military rape on the “hormone level created by nature” in young men, conservative pundit Erick Erickson argued on Fox News that nature has given men the “the dominant role,” and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said that American schools have gone downhill because “Mom is in the workplace.” All of this has both appalled and delighted Democrats, offering them the chance to keep exploiting the gender gap that was so important to President Obama’s reelection. “Democrats and liberal groups are seizing on these comments to reignite their 2012 strategy—rally the base to raise big money and put Republicans back on defense with women voters ahead of the midterm elections,” Politico reported. Female Democratic senators are expected to take the lead. “Part of the advantage of having a large number of women in your caucus is having people who are effective messengers on issues like this,” said one Democratic aide.  

    Read it at Politico
  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers questions from people from around the world during a "Global Townterview" at the Newseum January 29, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

    Plouffe Pick

    Hillary ‘Strongest’ in 2016

    David Plouffe says Clinton is ‘probably the strongest candidate’ if she decides to run. By Lloyd Grove.

    David Plouffe doesn’t sound too worried about the current strength of the Republican Party, which he called “as popular as the Ebola virus” on Sunday night at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y.

    Plouffe, who as Obama’s campaign manager was an ardent foe of Hillary Clinton’s during the 2008 Democratic primary campaign, also predicted that the former secretary of state will be “the most interesting and probably the strongest candidate” of either party if she decides to run for president in 2016. Especially against the nominee of a dysfunctional, disconnected GOP.

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