Mar 28 2012

 

 

Gopwaronwomen21

There are days reading Frank Rich when you want to make him a national icon or at least find a way to clone him. Not only does he have the uncannily ability to crystallize an issue, he does it with the most logical and beautiful prose you will find from any writer. There is not a Sunday morning when I don't miss him in Sunday's New York Times.

Once again, Mr. Rich, in a long and thoughtful piece for his new home, New York Magazine, has captured perfectly the systematic and hateful "War on Women" by the Republican Party. Just click here to read the entire important article called 'Stag Party' but here are some excerpts.

Rich talks about the past history of the Republican Party on these issues:

For much of its history, misogyny was not the style of the party of Lincoln. For most of the twentieth century, the GOP was ahead of the curve in bestowing women’s rights. When the Nineteenth Amendment granting suffrage was ratified in 1920, roughly three-quarters of the 36 state legislatures that did so were controlled by Republicans. In 1940, the GOP mandated that women be equally represented in its national and executive committees a standard not imposed by the Democrats until more than three decades later.

Barry Goldwater’s wife Peggy, inspired by a Margaret Sanger lecture in Phoenix in 1937, would help build one of the nation’s largest Planned Parenthood affiliates. Her husband favored abortion rights. I think the average woman feels, My God, that’s my business,’ and that’s the way we should keep it,he said late in his career. Prescott Bush, the Connecticut senator who sired a presidential dynasty, was another Sanger enthusiast and treasurer for the first national Planned Parenthood fund-raising campaign. His son George, when a congressman in the sixties, was an ardent birth-control advocate and the principal Republican author of the trailblazing Family Planning Act of 1970. Capitol Hill colleagues jokingly nicknamed him Rubbers.

He continues with the transition to a more negative approach:

This hostility to independent women was codified in the national Republican platform throughout the seventies. A 1972 plank supporting federal assistance for day-care services was softened in 1976, then dropped entirely at the Reagan convention of 1980. A 1972 stipulation that every woman should have the freedom to choose whatever career she wishes and an equal chance to pursue it also vanished. The 1980 platform instead took a patriarchal stance, applauding mothers and homemakers for maintaining the values of this country.

By then the anti-choice extremists of the religious right had merged with the hard right to produce the GOP convention from hell in 1992 in Houston. As if Pat Buchanan’s legendary address calling for an all-out culture war were not crazed enough, the vice-president’s wife, Marilyn Quayle, declared that most women do not wish to be liberated from their essential natures as women. Women, in fact, had now fallen to a status lower than the fetus as far as this recalibrated Republican Party was concerned. I can’t imagine a crime more egregiously awful than forcible rape,said Congressman Henry Hyde at a convention platform hearing, before going on to add: There is honor in having to carry to term, not exterminating the child. From a great tragedy, goodness can come.

Finally he takes on Romney and his associates in a powerful and articulate condemnation of their beliefs on women's rights:

The notion that Romney will somehow be more moderate on women’s issues than his opponents or party is not credible. The fact that he and his wife long ago supported Planned Parenthood in Massachusetts is no more a predictor of his agenda in the White House than the Bush family’s links to Planned Parenthood were of either Bush presidency. On policy, Romney and Santorum are on exactly the same page. Both endorsed the Blunt Amendment and the short-lived Komen defunding of Planned Parenthood. (Romney has called for the termination of all federal funding of Planned Parenthood.) Both men also want to shut down Title X the main federal family-planning program supported by Nixon and then-Congressman Bush at its creation in 1970. Title X prevents abortions and unintended pregnancies by the hundreds of thousands per year, according to federal research. In addition to birth control, it also pays for preventive health care that includes cervical- and breast-cancer screening, testing for sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, and even some abstinence counseling for teenagers. It would be overstating the case to say that the men running for president and running Congress in the GOP are opposed to all these services; the evidence suggests that such female concerns aren’t on their radar screen.

In wrapping up his article, Rich makes sure we know the real Mitt Romney:

To believe that Romney will somehow depart from his party’s misogyny in the White House, you have to believe that everything he has said about these issues during the primary campaign is a lie. You have to believe that the real Romney is the one who endorsed Roe v. Wade when he was running against Ted Kennedy in 1994, and that all the Etch A Sketching since then has been a transitory attempt to pander to his party’s base. But a look at Romney’s personal history suggests that the real Romney is the one before us now the sincere exponent of a deeply held faith whose entire top hierarchy is male and that still denies women the leadership roles that are bestowed on every Mormon male beginning at age 12. (At least blacks were finally granted full equality in the Church of Latter Day Saints in 1978.) The widely reported examples of Romney’s own personal behavior in his church roles as ward bishop and stake president in the Boston area suggest that he had not only never questioned this ethos but completely internalized it. He seems impervious to vulnerable women in crisis and need beyond his own family.

In one of these incidents, he turned his back on a 23-year-old single mother, Peggie Hayes, who had been a Romney family friend and teenage babysitter, because she refused to obey his and the church’s preference that she give up a second, out-of-wedlock child for adoption. Even when Hayes’s baby underwent frightening head surgery nine months after birth, Mitt spurned her call to come to the hospital to confer a blessing on her child. A similar Romney episode originally surfaced in an anonymous first-person account published by a Mormon feminist journal, Exponent II, in 1990. A mother of four learned that she had a blood clot in her pelvis during a later, unexpected pregnancy, putting her own health and that of the fetus at risk. Romney visited the hospital where she lay helpless, hurt, and frightened, as she described it, only to tell her that as your bishop, my concern is with the child. The woman, who has recently identified herself as Carrel Hilton Sheldon, was enraged that he cared more about the eight-week possibility in her uterus than he did about her and that he offered judgment, criticism, prejudicial advice, and rejection at a time when she needed support from spiritual leaders and friends. In an interview with Ronald Scott, the author of a Romney biography published last year, Sheldon tried to be generous when looking back. Mitt has many, many winning qualities, she said, but at the time he was blind to me as a human being.