A ‘war on women’ or a battle for their votes?

Posted on April 5, 2012

The Washington Post, April 5, 2012 byKaren Tumulty and David Nakamura

Is there a “war on women” going on? That is a matter of dispute between the parties these days.

But one thing is certain: There is a battle raging over them.

If that wasn’t clear after weeks of argument over contraceptive coverage, it became so Thursday, when caterpillars and country clubs got dragged into the fray.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus dismissed the “war on women” meme as a concoction of Democrats and their sympathizers in the news media.

“If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars, and mainstream media outlet[s] talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we have problems with caterpillars,” Priebus said.

No surprise, that brought a swift reaction from Democrats.

President Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, issued a statement contending that the RNC chairman’s “comparison of Republican attempts to limit women’s access to mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, and contraception to a ‘war on caterpillars’ shows how little regard leading Republicans, including Mitt Romney, have for women’s health.”

Also on Thursday, Obama weighed in on whether women should be admitted as members to the all-male Augusta National Country Club, site of this week’s Masters tournament. The long-standing dispute has gained currency this year because a woman, Virginia Rometty, is now chief executive of IBM, a longtime sponsor of the tournament whose previous chief executives have been admitted to Augusta.

The president’s “personal opinion is that women should be admitted,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said, adding that Obama thinks “it’s long past the time when women should be excluded from anything.”

Two Republican presidential candidates followed with their own declarations that the club should admit women.

“I’m not a member of Augusta. I don’t know that I would qualify — my golf game is not that good — but certainly if I were a member and if I could run Augusta . . . of course I’d have women in Augusta,” Romney said while campaigning in Pennsylvania.

And former House speaker Newt Gingrich declared via Twitter that he would like to see his wife admitted. “I think callista would be a great member #Augusta -maybe she would let me come and play,” he tweeted.

What voters should object to, many Republicans say, is Democrats’ efforts to characterize political disputes as a “war on women.”

“I find it offensive that the Democratic National Committee is using a term like that to describe policy differences,” said Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. “It’s not only bad, but it’s downright pathetic they would use a term like ‘war’ when there are millions of Americans who actually have engaged in a real war. To use a term like that borders on unpatriotic.”

The RNC responded to Obama’s comments about Augusta by mass e-mailing an article noting that the president has been criticized in the past for playing golf almost exclusively with men. The headline of the story, published by the Washington Free Beacon and linked by the Drudge Report, is “Obama’s War on Women.”


Posted in: United States