We know what Mike Huckabee meant. Sort of. Kind of. But, really?
Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate, talk-show host and erstwhile Baptist preacher, was trying to demythologize the alleged Republican “war on women” so brilliantly defined by Democrats in 2012.
Speaking at the Republican National Committee winter meeting last week, Huckabee said it was time to “no longer accept listening to the Democrats talk about a war on women.” Republicans aren’t waging a waron women, he said. “They have a war for
The alleged war on women was based on the notion that people who think abortion is a bad idea — or who don’t think the government should mandate insurance coverage for birth-control coverage — are anti-woman. Democrats point mainly to new state laws that have limited access to abortion, not to mention the unforgettable observations of a few Republican men about “legitimate” rape and so on.
Republicans could be characterized as waging a war on women only if no women agreed with the premises mentioned above. Protecting the rights of the unborn and fighting for freedom of conscience are not concerns only of men, nor should reproduction be the purview only of women.
Most Americans have carved out their positions by now and the arguments are well-enough known. What Huckabee was saying was that women are not just packages of reproductive parts whose lives are circumscribed by access to birth control. This is the thinking he ascribes to Democrats. Instead, he said, Republicans are fighting a war for women “to be empowered to be something other than victims of their gender.”
Not bad so far, but then uh-oh.
“And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it, let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.”
That is one long sentence, punctuated with several highlight-worthy words — “helpless,” “libido,” “Uncle Sugar” and, never far from the male Republican mind, “reproductive system.”
Paging Dr. Freud....
As Republicans can’t seem to learn, it’s all in how you say things. Even if Huckabee was only describing how Democrats think, he may have parted the curtain on his own unconscious processes. Who, really, is worried about women’s libidos?
Sadly for Huckabee, his introduction of the libido and all subsequent mental associations not only distracted from his message but placed him squarely in the frame with Rush Limbaugh. One is justified in wondering: Why do these men concern themselves so much with what women do with their, ahem, “reproductive systems”?
Does Huckabee really think that Democrats are wedded to the idea that women can’t function without “Uncle Sugar” offering medications to thwart ovulation and fertilization? Even Uncle Sugar is creepy. No doubt intended as a clever twist on Uncle Sam, he sounds like the lurking uncle who trades chocolate for a smooch on the upstairs landing.
Huckabee is usually better than this.
Rather than end the idea of a Republican war on women, Huckabee has provided fresh fodder to Democrats, while reminding women why they don’t want to associate with this crowd. Clue-less.
To his credit, Huckabee wrapped up with sage counsel that he might redirect to his brethren: “Women across America need to stand up and say, enough of that nonsense.” Tell it, preacher.