The 2008 presidential race was quite exciting. After two Bush terms, there was no incumbent for the Republican party. Traditionally, the vice-presidential candidate runs, but Cheney knew he would never be elected, and bowed out. That left both parties to find their presidential candidate for the general election.
What was interesting is that on the Democratic side, there was a serious contender in Hillary Clinton. Sure Geraldine Ferraro had run decades previous, but there was a sense this time that Hillary could actually win (not just the primary, but the general too). As the primaries came down to the wire, it was apparent to the Republicans that they too needed to court a woman. The Republicans ended up with Sarah Palin.
It seemed like that glass ceiling finally WAS getting cracks in it. America seemed ready for a female president or vice-president. Women were being taken seriously and considered equals. Considering that women make up over 51% of the U.S. population, it was a long overdue step forward. But like all steps forward, the Republicans follow it with 2 steps backwards.
After the 2010 election (marked by a backlash by Republicans to a Democrat in the White House, and ennui by the Democratic voters), the Republicans took the House and unleashed their idological id on the country. Despite the jobs numbers languishing, they produced bills redefining rape at the national level, rampaged against birth control, and launched anti-abortion bills in numerous states. It seems like political suicide to wage that kind of war against 51% of the electorate.
But like all things Republican, merely pointing out what they are doing results in a conflagration of rhetoric, accusing the Dems of being divisive (eg: pointing out the obvious racial overtones of a crime results in claims of playing the "race card", pointing out the widening gulf between the "haves" and the "have nots" results in claims of "class warfare", etc.). The Dems - to their credit - are not backing down on this one. Vice-president Joe Biden spoke out
asserting that the WoW (War on Women) was real. Of course - he also threw CNN commentator Hillary Rosen under the bus.
She was the one that said Mitt Romney's wife Ann had "actually never worked a day in her life". Considering that my mother raised 4 kids, I understand the backlash from mothers everywhere - it's definitely hard work (especially if you have boys). Ann Romney's response
, however, shows what Hillary Rosen was trying to get to - that Ann Romney has lived a very comfortable life:
“This goes back to the rich argument that has been leveled so much against you and your husband,” MacCallum noted. “Basically she’s saying Ann Romney could have chosen to do anything that she wanted and Ann Romney can’t relate to women who have no choice, who have to work and also raise their families.”
“Look, I know what it’s like to struggle,” Ann Romney insisted, possibly referring to her battle with multiple sclerosis. “And if maybe I haven’t struggled as much financially as some people have, I can tell you and promise you that I’ve had struggles in my life. And I would love to have people understand that Mitt and I have compassion for people that are struggling and that’s why we’re running. We care about those people that are struggling.”
Ann Romney said last month that she didn’t think of herself as wealthy even though she is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
“I don’t even consider myself wealthy, which is an interesting thing,” she told Fox News host Neil Cavuto. “It can be here today and gone tomorrow. And how I measure riches is by the friends I have and the loved ones I have and the people that I care about in my life. And that’s where my values are and that where my riches are.”
Spoken like someone who has never had to choose between food and heat. On a state level the War on Women is sometimes overt, sometimes covert. A GOP ad in Wisconsin shows that the state GOP believes women belong in the kitchen
(ostensibly barefoot and pregnant too). A law in NC that aims to outlaw gay marriage could invalidate domestic partner laws that protect unmarried women in relationships
Why any woman would vote for a Republican in ANY contest is beyond me, considering the disdain for women that is so apparently endemic to that party. Perhaps they are getting the message - President Obama is WAY ahead of Romney in the poll numbers among women. If they show up to the polls in numbers commensurate with their majority in the population, it should be a shoe-in for another 4 years. One would hope that it would help with downstream candidates as well. Republicans lost the "black vote" because it was the Dems who stood up for them. One can hope that this will be the case with women too. If the Republicans want to be the party of white men, they will lose every time.
Getting back to this missive's opening though... Assuming that President Obama gets another 4 years, what happens in 2016? By then, Joe Biden will be 74. It seems likely that he would not be interested in the presidency. We will have a replay of 2008, with both parties conducting wide-open primaries. Who would the Dems have in the running?
Surely there will be some strong women, and some men that will be pro-woman, pro-equality, smart, and concientious. One person I would suggest is Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker. His record of being receptive to his constituents is legendary (like personally handling Twitter tweets during a blizzard to ensure that people got their roads plowed). It's also completely unsurprising to hear that he rushed into a burning house to save a woman
Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark, N.J., rescued a woman trapped in a burning house Thursday night and carried her to safety.
Booker was treated for smoke inhalation at a local hospital and released. He also suffered second-degree burns on his hand.
The New York Times reports that Booker arrived at his Newark home after taping a television interview and found a neighbor's house ablaze. Before firefighters arrived on the scene, the mayor and two members of his security detail entered the house and helped the residents get out safely.
Booker then heard a woman screaming for help on the second floor and went back inside.
Sure firemen do that all the time. But Corey Booker is the mayor of a major city, not a fireman, and he was wearing street clothes, not firefighting gear.
I know we should focus on 2012. But it doesn't hurt to plan ahead. While Republicans are conducting a War on Women, democrats like Cory Booker are saving them, and more than just symbolically. It IS a war, and we are on the right side of it. Let's make sure women know who is looking out for their best interests, now and in the future.