Republicans have a woman problem
It’s hard to remember a GOP that was truly appalled by ignorant, impolitic, anti-women comments. Those comments are now so commonplace they barely register. So abundant are they, in fact, that there are categories of anti-women Republicans.
Does the name Todd Akin ring a bell? For conservatives who remember the 2012 presidential election all too well, it induces a kind of political PTSD.
Akin, the Republican nominee favored to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, sent shockwaves through the GOP when he said, in defense of no abortion exceptions for rape or incest, “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
The backlash was appropriate and swift. The GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Roy Blunt, Scott Brown, Richard Burr, Ron Johnson, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and others denounced the grotesque and ignorant comments, and called on Akin to withdraw his nomination. He refused, and was trounced by McCaskill.
Democrats went on to pick up two seats in the Senate, making 2012 the last time that party won an outright majority in the Senate, and Barack Obama won his re-election bid over Romney, whom Democrats had effectively smeared as “bad for women.” Some blame Akin for Romney’s loss.
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A decade later, and it’s hard even to remember a Republican Party that was truly appalled by ignorant, impolitic, anti-women comments. Because in today’s GOP — still effortlessly led by Donald “grab ‘em by the p---y” Trump — those kinds of comments are so commonplace they barely register.
So abundant are they, in fact, that there are categories of anti-women Republicans.
There are the frat bros, the preternaturally immature man-boys who like to cartoonishly cosplay at masculinity by grunting out lame insults and taking cheap shots at the military.
These are guys like Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who, incidentally, is under federal investigation for alleged sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl.
This past weekend, Gaetz characteristically put his worst foot forward at a frat bro gathering called Turning Point USA Student Action Summit, founded by fellow frat bro and military critic Charlie Kirk.
“Why is it that women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions?” asked Gaetz. “Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb.”
Gaetz, a self-appointed authority on whom men want to impregnate, later doubled down on his assessment. When asked by a reporter, “You’re suggesting that these women at these abortion rallies are ugly and overweight?” he replied simply, “Yes.”
Fellow frat bro Donald Trump Jr. posted the moment on his Instagram page, saying, “Where’s the lie??? Gaetz spittin (fire emojis) and truth.” (Yes, this is how they talk.)
Then there are the Everyman Elites, guys who insist — despite their upbringing, tony degrees, personal wealth or work experience — that only they understand the plight of “real” Americans, while everyone else is “establishment” and not to be trusted.
Last year, Yale University-educated venture capitalist and Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance was asked about fatherhood at an event at Pacific Christian High School in California. He slammed “the sexual revolution” for “making it easier for people to shift spouses like they change their underwear,” and suggested that divorce, even in marriages where there’s domestic violence, is harmful to kids.
On his popular prime-time show earlier this month, St. George’s Prep grad and Fox News’ $10 million man Tucker Carlson used a tragic mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Illinois to attack women.
It was apparently our fault that a deranged mass shooter, who had threatened to kill his family in 2019, went on a rampage. Why?
“The authorities in their lives — mostly women — never stop lecturing them about their so-called privilege. ‘You’re male! You’re privileged.’”
These are the arguments that Everyman Elites think “real America” wants to hear.
Then there are the Neanderthals, brutes who often sound more like they belong in caves than Congress.
Matt Birk, the former NFL player now running for lieutenant governor of Minnesota, said at a National Right to Life event last month, “Our culture loudly and stealthily promotes abortion, telling women they should look a certain way, they should have careers, all of these things.”
A different sort of Neanderthal is the one accused of assault or domestic violence, and there’s more than one running for office.
Eric Greitens, accused by his ex-wife of physical and child abuse, is running for Senate in Missouri. Herschel Walker, accused by his ex-wife of domestic violence and stalking, is the Republican nominee for Senate in Georgia.
With men like these, is it any wonder more women identify as Democrat than Republican by a nearly 10-point margin?
Or that both Bushes, George H.W. and George W., earned approval rates in the 70s among women, but Trump’s were only in the 30s?
The days of outlier Todd Akins are gone, as are the days when comments like his were immediately denounced by Republicans. Now we’re awash in Akinses, and party leaders barely bat an eye.
S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.
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