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How not to talk about a 'war on women'

It's been about a week since the RNC began pushing the line that Anthony Weiner and Bob Filner constitute a Democratic "war on women," and though the right hasn
How not to talk about a 'war on women'
How not to talk about a 'war on women'

It's been about a week since the RNC began pushing the line that Anthony Weiner and Bob Filner constitute a Democratic "war on women," and though the right hasn't gained any traction on this, the talking points aren't going away.

Today, a joint memo from the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican Governors' Association, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the Republican State Leadership Committee went out to reporters, hoping to shine a light on the "Democrats' War on Women."

The proof: instances of Filner's alleged sexual harassment, Weiner's online escapades, and remarks a Weiner staffer made this week about a campaign intern.

Republicans were especially indignant towards the House Minority Leader.

Last year, when radio host Rush Limbaugh called liberal activist Sandra Fluke an offensive term, Nancy Pelosi demanded that Republicans speak out. But when an individual currently serving on an actual Democrat campaign used precisely the same term and many more to disparage an intern, Pelosi didn't say a word. [...]When Nancy Pelosi was asked about her former colleague Mayor Filner, she didn't jump to the defense of the women involved. Instead, she was indignant that she was asked.

There are a couple of angles to this. The first is that the Republican committees aren't just lying, they're doing so in a lazy, easy-to-check sort of way. Pelosi's condemnations of both men were unequivocal:

As for the larger argument, it didn't make sense a week ago, and it's not improving with age.

I noticed overnight that a conservative website finds the argument confusing, so let's try to be clearer about the differences between the parties.

The actions of Weiner and Filner: tens of women are affected.

The policy agenda of congressional Republicans: tens of millions of women are affected.

This isn't a defense of the San Diego mayor or the former congressman. If the allegations against Filner are accurate, there is no defense for his disgusting misconduct, and he has no business serving in public office. Likewise, Weiner's personal judgment appears bizarre.

But there are qualitative and quantitative differences that the RNC and its allies are choosing to overlook.

As we discussed last week, when we talk about a "war on women," we're talking less about Republican misdeeds towards specific individuals and more about a systemic issue of GOP policymakers pursuing a radical agenda that affects all American women.

Whether the RNC is comfortable with this or not, at issue here are efforts to restrict reproductive rights, scrap Planned Parenthood, close health clinics that provide important services to women, force medical professionals to lie to women, and force women to undergo medically unnecessary exams for political reasons. In recent years, as Republican politics has become more radicalized, the party has also used inexplicable rhetoric on rape, opposed pay equity laws, and pushed antiquated views on gender roles.

That's a war on women. Is it really that hard to appreciate the differences?

When Republican leaders in Congress are prepared to denounce their party's crusade as forcefully as Pelosi denounced Filner and Weiner, the RNC is welcome to send out another press release, but I have a hunch we'll be waiting a while.