Are Republicans Actively Working to Lose Womens’ Votes?

Why is Democratic political maven David Axelrod smiling?

Are Republicans actively working with Barack Obama’s senior compaign strategist David Axelrod to lose the votes of many women voters? To be sure, the GOP will always have its die-hard followers, and people of both sexes who will sincerely see things via it’s prism. But two tidbits today are not going to enhance the image of some GOPers and their party.

For instance, Foster Freiss, the big-buxer business man bankrolling a portion of Rick Santorum‘s campaign efforts, had a suggestion on a cheap form of contraception that truly stunned Andrea Mitchell — and will not enhance Santorum’s image unless he issues a statement saying the choice of words was unfortunate. Watch it yourself:

And then there was the truly stunning House Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) that looked at Obama’s new regulation requiring employers and insurers to give contraception coverage to their employee. You wonder if it had been scripted by David Alexrod for two reasons:

  • Issa reportedly would not allow the Demo to have anyone testify who did not already agree with Issa’s preconceived opinion. So yes, folks, this era when people will ONLY read websites that they already agree with in advance or watch ideological cable channels where they already agree with views — and biases — the channel has before they even tune in the channel has now come to Congress. Only those who agree in advance with the Chairman can apparently appear (but perhaps Issa, a businessman from my own San Diego County) will prove me wrong.
  • On the issue of contraception, Issa would not allow any women to testify and most assuredly not a woman who didn’t already agree with him. The result: some Democratic women boycotted the hearing:
  • ,

    The optics of both of these bits of video are terrible for the GOP. In a general election if Santorum is the nominee the Dems can do a commercial with his quote. Or hand out bottles of aspirin marked REPUBLICAN CONTRACEPTION at political rallies.

    But the REAL killer will the the hearing. At a time when Republicans in Congress seem to rank perhaps a bit lower than bedbugs in popularity, this will add to the image of a biased, rigid, tightly controlled, ideologically intoleratent Republican Congress – accurate enough.

    And you have to ask: why would it have been such a big deal to allow a women who agreed with Obama to testify? If Issa believes in the strength of his arguments, he lends LEGITIMACY to the other witnesses if he allows a variety of viewpoints. No sign yet that he will allow anyone except those who don’t already agree with him to testify — on a day when his rigidity seemed to mesh with the aspirin joke.

    My prediction: Issa will need aspirin since the video of this meeting will produce a big, fat political headache.

    Photo via The Politico

    A FEW OTHER REACTIONS:
    The Impolitic:

    House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is at it again, holding yet another inane hearing. This was the scene in his committee room this morning…Yes, his first panel of witnesses was solely comprised of male religious leaders whose consciences are inflamed by the new rule on women’s health services that include contraception coverage. Unsurprisingly, Democrats were enraged and demanded at least one witness to balance this skewed panel…

    Apparently, after the media caught wind of the melee, Issa added a couple of women bringing the total witness list to eleven. One assumes he found women who agree a handful of aging Catholic men, sworn to lifelong celibacy, should dictate government policy on contraceptives for the entire female population of the USA.

    Politico:

    Two female Democrats walked out of a House oversight committee hearing on the contraceptive coverage rule Thursday morning, accusing Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) of manipulating committee rules to block female witnesses from testifying.

    “What I want to know is, where are the women?” asked Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) before walking out. “I look at this panel [of witnesses], and I don’t see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services, including family planning.”

    he five witnesses on the first panel were all male religious leaders or professors, including a Catholic bishop. Two women were listed on the committee website as witnesses for a second, later panel, also dominated by conservatives. The first panel, however, tends to draw the most attention at hearings.

    Democrats withdrew the name of a witness Issa had accepted, Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, because they wanted a woman to testify. Lynn submitted a written statement instead.

    Maloney pressed Issa to allow Sandra Fluke, a law student from Georgetown University, to testify about the impact of the new requirement that most health plans offer contraceptive coverage with no co-pay. Issa shot back that Fluke was rejected because she was “not found to be appropriate or qualified” to testify about religious liberty. He said liberty, not contraception, was the topic of the hearing.

    Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.), the only female Republican lawmaker at the hearing, agreed with Issa.

    “I really find it so objectionable that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would characterize this as something so narrow as being about contraception,” she said. “This is a fundamental assault on one’s conscience.”


    –James Joyner on the aspirin comment:

    Does the fact that Santorum’s chief financial backer is apparently a Grade A moron matter? Probably not.

    Friess isn’t running for president, he’s just backing Santorum with a lot of money. Not only do we typically not hold candidates responsible for every damn fool thing their benefactors say but, frankly, we especially tend to discount damn fool things uttered by 71-year-old multimillionaires. Especially ones from Wyoming.

    It may serve to reinforce the notion held by many–myself for example–that Santorum is a religious extremist who shouldn’t be given the power to issue orders to our federal bureaucracy. But people who feel that way–myself for example–aren’t going to vote for Santorum, anyway.

    Additionally, the name Foster Friess and evoked Mickey Kaus’ old Feiler Faster thesis, which is relevant beyond the shared alliteration. Around this time in the 2000 presidential cycle, Kaus observed, “The news cycle is much faster these days, thanks to 24-hour cable, the Web, a metastasized pundit caste constantly searching for new angles, etc. As a result, politics is able to move much faster, too, as our democracy learns to process more information in a shorter period and to process it comfortably at this faster pace.” If anything, that’s more true now than it was twelve years ago. Twitter and Facebook hadn’t even been invented yet.

    Charles Johnson:

    Conservative humor rears its ugly head once again.

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    • cjjack

      I think what they’re doing goes beyond alienating women voters. What they’re doing is actually far more dangerous for their political prospects:

      Firing up the liberal Democratic base in a way that even Obama can’t.

      There are several factors at work that will decide whether Obama gets another term, but one of the most critical was (emphasis on the past tense) his tepid support among the “liberal wing” of the party. Liberal Democrats were clearly unhappy about his seeming continuation of some Bush policies, his capitulation on health care reform, his administration’s cozy relationship with Wall Street, etc. etc. etc.

      Yet what the Republican Party has done here is to make all of that largely irrelevant, and remind everyone of the vast gulf between themselves and the President with regards to the reproductive rights of women.

      They could not have picked a worse hornet’s nest to poke with a stick.

    • zephyr

      “Stunning” is right. Republicans are doing so much of Obama’s work for him these days. What else can they do to alienate woman voters? (I’m sure they’ll think of something). Cjj,I think you’re right about liberals coming into the fold for Obama, but I never doubted they would.They’ve been misunderstood by a lot of other dems imo. Just because they are disappointed with Obama and have criticized him never meant they were going to sit back and let this truly weird breed of republcans gain power.

    • zephyr

      So which galaxy does Foster Freiss live in anyway? His comment to Mrs. Greenspan is more than anything else a glimpse into the asylum. That said, there are lots of people just as disconnected from reality (and happily oblivious) who also have a great deal of money to pump into the campaigns of other equally disconnected people. The women in this country really need to be paying attention to this stuff because there sure seems to be an effort to turn the clock back on all their hard earned gains.

    • ShannonLeee

      The funny thing about extremists is that they think they are normal…making their behavior even more bizarre and unexplainable.

    • roro80

      Wow, “close your legs you dirty slut” is such an awesome, mature political argument. And so original!

      Hopefully someday we can have every girl’s hymen belong to her daddy for protection, then we could have some sort of ceremony where daddy “gives away” his daughter’s virginity (along with a chest full of fine china and little girl dreams) to her husband. That would be so nice.

    • roro80

      OMG, just saw this doosh’s “apology”.

      I can understand how I confused people with the way I worded the joke and their taking offense is very understandable. To all those who took my joke as [a] modern day approach I deeply apologize and seek your forgiveness. My wife constantly tells me I need new material—she understood the joke but didn’t like it anyway—so I will keep that old one in the past where it belongs. … To those who applauded my comments and remembered the joke, thanks for your encouragement. To those who thought I was callously encouraging that as a prescription for today, I kindly ask your forgiveness.

      I’m not “confused”, you utter failure of a human being. And it doesn’t count as “just a joke” if your sanctimonious candidate is actually supportive of the idea that dirty sluts should just simply stop having sex if they don’t want to get pregnant. Even if it were “just a joke”, and this guy were totally supportive of women getting the healthcare they need, it’s still a sexist, crappy thing to say.

      What. An. A**hole.

    • zephyr

      OK, but roro, what do you really think???

      (just kidding.. the guy is as clueless as he is rich)

    • roro80

      Ha! Yeah, I know my position on this is a little wishy-washy. :)

    • Rcoutme

      Even though I happen to be on the opposite side of the debate concerning paying for contraceptives with most of the commenters here (including the author), I find the above actions deplorable to the point of idiocy. The reason I have voted mostly D in elections (in spite of my abhorrence with abortion) is because I expected the above actions from such people.

      That they actually ‘made it official’, by doing and saying the things they did is only a natural consequence. The Chairman did not want any ‘real’ testimony. His actions remind me of when a R Chairman turned off the lights and microphone. This IS their style and agenda. They don’t want ‘facts’ or ‘discourse’.

      Meanwhile, I nominate Rep. Buerkle for the quote of the day. To claim that her colleagues were limited the scope of the discussion (by citing contraception during the hearing) while supporting the repression of all opposing views has got to be one for the record books!