'What the *#@% Is Wrong with Republicans?!'

By Parker, Kathleen | Newsweek, September 3, 2012 | Go to article overview

'What the *#@% Is Wrong with Republicans?!'


Parker, Kathleen, Newsweek


Byline: Kathleen Parker

How GOP men are ruining the party

The "idea cloud"--that cumulus cartoon bubble that dumps the same idea on diverse populations at once. Alternatively, blame Todd Akin, the Missouri congressman and Senate candidate who infamously asserted that "legitimate rape" victims don't often get pregnant because the female reproductive system has a way of shutting itself down under such circumstances.

Whatever the prompt, millions of Americans simultaneously have been slapping their foreheads and exclaiming: "What the *#@% is wrong with Republicans?!"

To be fair, we can stipulate that Akin is sui generis, occupying a realm of nitwittery uniquely his own. Taken in isolation, his comments might have been only a blip in the news cycle. But his timing was, shall we say, immaculate, coinciding with GOP platform committee meetings and Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate. The platform includes one of Ryan's signature issues--a human life amendment to the Constitution that could preclude abortion even for rape or incest. And Ryan, in addition to being the party's budget genie, happens to have coauthored with Akin legislation seeking to redefine rape as "forcible" (as opposed to statutory) as a way of limiting public spending on abortion.

The human life amendment is actually a relic, having been part of the platform since 1984, but the platform also includes new language for the first time declaring abortion bad for a woman's "health and well-being." It is certainly bad for some women, but also certainly not for all. Who exactly is making this determination for womankind?

In any case, a storm more perfect than Isaac (it seems impossible to discuss Republicans in non-biblical terms) has formed to the benefit of Democrats--and not just the metaphorical kind. That hallelujah chorus you hear is coming from David Axelrod's Chicago office, where he and other campaign strategists were seen performing grand jetes in celebration of their good fortune. What more delicious manna than the opportunity to conjoin in the public's mind the idiocy of Akin, who weirdly serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and Romney's sixth son, Ryan. Such a GOP twofer can only be a gift from You Know Who.

Alas, Akin's comments were not in isolation. They followed a year of explosive events and remarks involving Republican lawmakers and leaders--and the women they seek to "protect." A one-man firing squad, Akin simply provided the exclamation point at the end of a Faulknerian paragraph of Republican offenses, from laws attempting to require transvaginal probes for women seeking abortion to promises to defund Planned Parenthood to Rush Limbaugh's calling law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" when she testified about the need for insurance coverage for contraception. Agree or not with her argument, powerful men shouldn't call young women sluts for attempting to participate in a grown-up debate about health care. Agree or not with a woman's decision to end a pregnancy, elected officials shouldn't parse the definition of rape as "legitimate" or otherwise. For the record, the bill to redefine rape as "forcible" had 227 Republican cosponsors.

The cumulative effect of these episodes, combined with Democrats' carefully crafted GOP "war on women" narrative, have boxed Republicans into a corner of stubborn self-defeat. Hackneyed and contrived as this "war" is, there's a reason it has gained traction. "Because it's true," says Margaret Hoover, a leading voice in the young conservative movement, CNN contributor, gay-marriage advocate, and author of American Individualism--a call to arms for her great-grandfather Herbert Hoover's rugged individualism tempered with a community spirit suitable for the millennial generation.

Opting for a vernacular expression of her frustration, Hoover queries: "What the (*#@%) is wrong? What has happened within the party infrastructure that has malfunctioned so desperately, so that this minority of representatives are in such positions of power that are so out of step with the majority of Republicans? …

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