What is it with Republicans, rape and women anyway? I have to believe that there is a secret GOP conclave where party activists plot to find ways to drive off female voters. Does the GOP have a death wish? Do Republicans just hate women? Enquiring minds want to know.
Last year, female voters supported Barack Obama by an overwhelming margin. Despite the attempts of Republican chairman Reince Priebus to reach out to women, his party is heading to even bigger losses among women in 2014 and 2016.
If I was a Republican campaign consultant, I would forbid my clients from ever mentioning rape. Fortunately, I am a Democratic campaign consultant so I am able to just stand by and watch in horror as the Republican Party does everything it can to prove that it is insensitive to women.
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., is the latest Republican to raise the issue of rape. On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee, dominated by right-wing social extremists, voted to support legislation that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. When an intrepid reporter asked the congressman why his proposal did not make exceptions for rape and incest, the representative said that the probability of a pregnancy resulting from rape was "very low."
There are so many problems here that I don't know where to start.
First, Franks is just plain wrong about the science. There are thousands of women who have become pregnant after a rape. What would the representative say to a woman who became pregnant after a rape? Would he tell her she's not really pregnant or that she wasn't really raped? Good luck with that. The Republican governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, once said that his own party was the "stupid party." I'm sure he was referring to cavemen like Franks.
Then there's the negative political impact of these kind of insensitive comments. There are many Americans who oppose abortion, but there are very few who are unwilling to make exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Four in five Americans favor abortion in all cases or are willing to make exceptions for pregnancies caused by sexual assault. Yesterday, Gabriel Gomez, the GOP candidate in the special U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, was forced to repudiate Franks' statement.
Last November, Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by seven points with male voters. But the president more than made up the difference with support from women. The president won the female vote by 11 points and there were millions more female voters than men.
Hasn't the GOP learned anything from last year's electoral disaster? Republicans had a great opportunity to take control of the U.S. Senate. But the party pissed away its opportunity when two Republican candidates running in competitive states, Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana, said women who are raped can't become pregnant. The voters in both of these conservative states repudiated the Republican candidates.
And Franks is not the only current Republican member of Congress who has talked out of turn. A few weeks ago, during a debate on sexual harassment in the armed forces, Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia used the "boys will be boys" defense of rape and harassment in the military. Chambliss claimed that attacks against women by military men were caused by the "hormone level created by nature."
Under Priebus' leadership, the Republican National Committee did its own autopsy on the party's losses in 2012. One voter who was interviewed in the Republican post mortem said the GOP was full of "stuffy old men." I think that just about covers it. What more can I say?