Friday, October 19, 2012

Caterpillars and Left-Handed Irishmen. The Republican Response to the War-On-Women.

This is good clean fun.  The would-be Vice-President of the United States, the still most powerful country on earth, believes that the best way to put to bed the utterly ridiculous view that the Republican Party is running a war on women is to ridicule the very idea:

GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Thursday night poked fun at the Democratic argument that the GOP is waging a “war on women.”
“Now it’s a war on women; tomorrow it’s going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something like that,” Ryan told donors at a Naples fundraiser, according to Shushanna Walshe of ABC News.
Probably better than Reince Priebus' caterpillar comment* from last April:

“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,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend. “It’s a fiction.” 

"Poking fun" at the opponent's argument can be a good strategy.  It suggests that the initial claim was outrageous and only deserves a joke in return.  But when the initial claim is not outrageous but, in fact, true, "poking fun" adds insult to injury.

The war-on-women is so unimportant that it can be joked about.  By a guy whose votes on abortion would please Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue,   and whose votes on fair employment for women would have pleased any extreme misogynistic patriarch until 2012 when he had to pretend to be more moderate, what with the elections coming.

The more serious Republican defense against the allegations that they wage war against women is that since Republicans don't think they are waging a war against people in general this must mean that they don't wage war against women. Or something of this sort (from last April but you have heard it over and over more recently):

“Because it is a fiction, Thomas,” Priebus replied. “It’s a fiction because, number one, there is no war on women. … The fact of the matter is that the real war on women, the actual thing that I think most women in this country are most concerned about, which is a good job, a good family, being able to live the American dream, provide for your kids and your family, that war on women is being perpetrated by President Barack Obama.”

We are supposed to ignore the fact that on all women-specific issues the Republicans vote against women's rights and fairness.  Had it been up to the Republicans in the Congress in 1960s there would be no Civil Rights laws, no Equal Pay Act and no federal laws against gender discrimination at workplace.  Indeed, Republicans have fought against all of the anti-discrimination statutes and still do.  And let's not even get into the reproductive rights issues!

But on one sense I get what Ryan and Priebus and others of their ilk are saying.  To many among that group women are so unimportant (except as the factories of future Republicans) that their issues can be safely ignored.  It's hard to see the treatment of people that unimportant as a war.


It was a bad analogue anyway because there IS a war against caterpillars.  It uses biological and chemical weapons.