As I watch this Republican presidential primary season proceed in a manner roughly consistent with the course of the Costa Concordia, it has led me to a suspicion I feel honor-bound to share: I think the Republicans are throwing this thing.
I'm not yet sure why. It could be that it better sets them up for a president they actually want in 2016, or that Mitt Romney made a $10,000 bet against himself, or that there's some sort of a sweater-vest endorsement deal in it for Rick Santorum. As I said, I'm not sure why. What I am sure of however, is that they can't really be trying to win.
The thing about elections is that to win them you need voters willing to, you know, vote for you. And at the current rate the Republican Party is going, they may have to start resuscitating every dead white male since the Whiskey Rebellion to have any shot at winning outside of Utah, or a Gingrich-family-settled lunar colony.
The end of last week, taken by itself, was stunning. On the heels of the Tea Party takeover of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the GOP managed to make it exceedingly clear to the vast majority of women that their concerns measure somewhere on a scale between those of chattel and Charlie Sheen.
In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell signed both the loony Personhood Amendment and a bill passed by the state's legislature that will force many women to submit to an "invasive, transvaginal ultrasound before seeking an abortion." How about this Bob, next time you or your friends go and get your health-plan covered Viagra, you submit to a catheter? Deal, sport?
In New Hampshire, a female Republican legislator -- to the amazement of an onlooking medical professional - offered that a woman's using birth control can cause cancer. Prostrate cancer. In men. I'm not joking.
Not to be outdone, car-thief turned car-alarm gazillionaire Rep. Darrell Issa held a hearing on health care plans and birth control coverage on Capitol Hill. Who was qualified to talk there, according to Issa? A bunch of old white men. Who wasn't? A Georgetown University Law Student (or any other female) who lost an ovary because the University's (a Catholic one) health plans don't cover birth control.
Meanwhile, Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida thinks covering birth control would hurt homeless veterans. How would it do that? Apparently only Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida knows. But I'm positive raising taxes 1 percent on those making over $10,000,000 a year to get homeless vets off the streets is something Miller would support because he cares so much about them. I'm just sure I've heard that proposal of his somewhere.
But the proverbial cake, as it were, was taken by general right-wing uber-nut and big Rick Santorum supporter Foster Freiss. He told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC that birth control wasn't that expensive. Why, all women needed to do was hold an aspirin between their knees! Get it!
I think Freiss' pre-9/11 mentality is showing--9/11/1901.
Now as someone who thinks the Republican Right in our current day in age is a cue ball short of a game of pool, I watch with bemusement. A recent Democracy Corps poll--a Democratic outfit to be sure, but one that has honestly predicted Democratic Party woes in the past--has found that the Republican Party brand is "in a state of collapse," with 50 percent of voters having a negative feeling about it. Not surprisingly, the poll found that voters who gave Democrats their huge victories in 2006 and 2008 are returning to the fold, led by "a resurgence and re-engagement of unmarried women."
Gee, I wonder what could be leading to that?
Tied in with attacks on Social Security and immigrants, courting the older white vote and the Hispanic vote might pose some interesting challenges for Republicans too. Luckily, like the female vote, I can't think of any states [Florida] where those voters [Nevada] might be important at all [Arizona] in the 2012 presidential election.
Cliff Schecter is the President of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm, and the author of the 2008 bestseller "The Real McCain." Email Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.