After taking a drubbing in last year's state elections, Virginia Republicans are debating whether their party has come to be defined by its extremists. But in a congressional district in Northern Virginia, one of the state's main instigators of culture warfare, state Sen. Richard H. "Dick" Black, is running in the Republican primary to replace longtime GOP moderate Rep. Frank Wolf, who is retiring. And he's guaranteed to ignite wedge-issue passion. Exhibit A: As a state legislator, Black opposed making spousal rape a crime, citing the impossibility of convicting a husband accused of raping his wife "when they're living together, sleeping in the same bed, she's in a nightie, and so forth."Last week, we got the not-unwelcome news that Black was dropping out of that race. Black said he was staying in the state Senate to "maintain our 20/20 split," but there's good reason to believe that he was pushed out. Black is exactly the kind of candidate establishment Republicans don't want running in November -- the kind who uses hard-ass conservativism to be a jerk and troll everyone who isn't a true believer. Maybe he could've won the district or maybe he couldn't have. But he would've been guaranteed to engage in jackass antics that would make national waves and make the party look bad as a whole. And, as I pointed out last week, Black's not the only candidate that Republicans have who's making trouble for the GOP as a whole.
Black has referred to emergency contraception, which does not cause abortions, as "baby pesticide." Black also fought to block a statue of Abraham Lincoln at a former Confederate site in Richmond. He wasn't sure, he explained at the time, that statues of Lincoln belonged in Virginia. He has argued that abortion is a worse evil than slavery. And once, to demonstrate why libraries should block pornography on their computers, Black invited a TV reporter to film him using a library terminal to watch violent rape porn.
But a bigger problem for the party might just come from non-candidates who they can't force out of the spotlight; Brainiacs who think they've mastered the art of spin and think that they can fix the party's problems freelance. You know, masterminds like Mike Huckabee, whose attempt to spin away the the GOP's "War on Women" label only managed to confirm it.
And then there's serial headline-grabber/foot-in-mouth inserter Rand Paul, who decided -- like Huckabee -- that it's Democrats who are waging a war on women because Bill and Hillary:
Political Wire: Said Paul: "One of the workplace laws and rules that I think are good is that bosses shouldn't prey on young interns in their office. And I think really the media seems to have given President Clinton a pass on this. He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that, and it is predatory behavior."The best response I've come across to this insane false equivalence comes from DPM at Balloon Juice; "Clearly, one instance of sexual harassment almost twenty years ago requires, as I’m sure any serious Burkean would agree, that women pay for their own contraception for the rest of recorded time without further comment." And of course, there's the invasive and unnecessary ultrasound laws and the voter suppression and the candidates like Black who think it's impossible to rape your wife and your talk show hosts who think women who use birth control are sluts and you get the idea.
He noted that "sometimes it's hard to separate" Bill and Hillary Clinton and then added, "And then they have the gall to stand up and say Republicans are having a war on women? So yes, I think it's a factor. It's not Hillary's fault, but it is a factor in judging Bill Clinton and history."
And of course, since the most recent example of a dem War on Women that Sen. Poodlehair could come up with was two decades ago, you kind of get the idea that evidence of said WoW is laughably slim. And one guy engaging in office shenanigans with one intern is not at all the same as an entire political party wanting to invade women's bodies with ultrasound wands to punish them for daring to exercise their right to an abortion. That it's the same as chasing them away from the polls. That it's equal to not allowing health insurance to cover contraception, because forcing employees to abide by their employers' religious beliefs is somehow some bass-ackard kind of "religious freedom."
That's the worst part of all this; that Huckabee or Paul don't get -- or pretend not to get -- what's wrong with all of this. That they don't get why women might not be all that pleased with middle aged Republican men micromanaging their lives. That they think that women are dumb enough to fall for these idiotic arguments.
In trying to deny there's a Republican War on Women, these people are waging one. They're doing it badly. And it hurts.
Republicans may be able to scare off candidates like Dick Black with backroom talks about funding and donors, but the guys like Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee, who aren't running for anything at the moment, they're going to be a trickier problem. They think they're smart enough to straighten this whole War on Women thing out on their own -- and they're so not.
[photo via Wikimedia Commons]
Get updates via Twitter