TIMOTHY NOAH MARCH 19, 2012
It had to happen. With liberals denouncing a Republican "war on women," the right has now answered in kind. Please welcome, ladies and gentleman, to what Slate's John Dickerson once labelled the umbrage wars a spanking-new Republican meme: the Democrats' "war on men."
Observe the less-than-exquisite symmetry:
Democrats base their "war on women" accusation on congressional Republicans' attempts to limit health insurance coverage for birth control; on Republican state legislators pushing bills requiring women to view ultrasounds before they have abortions; and on Rush Limbaugh's now-famous rude remarks about a pro-contraception law student at Georgetown, halfheartedly retracted after advertisers started boycotting his radio program.
Republicans (in the person of Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor-at-large for National Review Online) base their "war on men" accusation on the hurtful labeling of "good men protecting conscience rights" as "cavemen" intent on wrestling "American women back into chastity belts" (that's Maureen Dowd) and as "violently anti-woman" (that's Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization For Women, in a statement put out more than a year ago). Sure, Rick Santorum has "talked about the downsides of contraception ... but he is not going to issue mandates to enforce his views." So quit picking on him for talking about horrible stuff he'll never be able to do!
Since the "war on men" line of attack doesn't look very promising, the Republican National Committee has uploaded to You Tube a video that accuses the Obama administration of waging a (more traditional) war on women because its unaffiliated Super PAC accepted a $1 million donation from Bill Maher, who once called Sarah Palin the C-word, and because White House Communications Director Anita Dunn told journalist Ron Suskind, "I remember once I told Valerie [Jarrett] that, I said if it weren’t for the president, this place would be in court for a hostile workplace, because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women." How these wrongs compare to advocating mandatory vaginal probes and opposing health insurance coverage for birth control pills is not a mental puzzle the GOP should want female American voters to contemplate, or so it seems to me. But competitive victimology abhors a vacuum.