We’ve all heard that the GOP’s got a problem with women. A CNN poll taken last February found that 55% of all women – and, crucially for the senior-dependent GOP, 64% of women over 50 – said that Republicans just don’t understand women. Many of us also know that the Republican response to their woman problem has been strictly cosmetic in nature, and hinges on the assumption that if they can just express their positions in “feeling” words rather than “thinking” words, all will be right in GOPland. As one writer put it, the “the attitude they’re running with considers women to be somewhat less than human – an inferior species not equipped with the intellectual capabilities of your typical heroic white Republican male.”
The most infamous example of this point of view is Iowa Senator Mark Jacobs who very publicly declared his bona fides by asserting that “I think you have to connect with women on an emotional level. And with a wife of 25 years and an 18-year-old daughter, I’ve had a lot of coaching on that.” Republican women themselves are not immune to this line of thinking. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) went on the record with the observation that in order to connect with women, Republicans need “to speak from our heart and make sure people know that we care,” rather than “speaking from our head about facts and figures.” (Of course credibly making a choice between the two approaches assumes that the GOP has been even mildly competent when it comes to facts and figures, which is in itself a long stretch for the a party now frequently referred to as the “stupid” party.)
An excellent, homegrown example of the new GOP woman-speak has been presented by Missouri Congresswoman Rep. Ann Wagner (R-2) in her most recent email newsletter. Writing about the humanitarian refugee crisis at our Southern border, she touts the bill, HR5230, that the House passed in response to the dire situation created by thousands of children seeking a safe haven from the unspeakable violence prevalent in much of Central America:
On Friday, House Republicans answered the call of the American people to secure the border and compassionately return these children to their home countries. Now it’s up to the Democratic-led Senate to come back from their vacation – do their job – and pass a solution to end this humanitarian crisis once and for all.
This legislation will lovingly and compassionately care for and house these children at the border with a speedy access to a hearing in days – not months or years – and reunite them with their families back home. This bipartisan solution will create a last in, first out policy – that will create a strong deterrent to stop these children from being exploited along this trail of despair.
To give you a little perspective, this bill has been characterized by Kristen Powers in a USA Today piece as “reprehensible.” She backs up her assertion with a statement from a spokesperson for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
This bill guts any real due process for these children and ensures that the vast majority will be sent back to their persecutors. … It would literally send some of these children back to their deaths.
But hey, Ann Wagner wants to reassure all of us emotional women out here that Central American children will be sent back to their particular hellholes “lovingly and compassionately.” We’re supposed to think that makes inhumane policy just hunky-dory? And did you notice the statement about reuniting the children “with their families back home.” Makes it sound like they’re being kept from their families against their will, the very same families who in many heartbreaking cases risked sending their children North to try and save them. Nor does this provision address those children who hope to join parents in the U.S. Are they to be sent back to the wilds they fled from to try to make it alone?
Seriously, is Wagner’s evocation of the warm and fuzzy supposed to allay the reasoned objections of folks like those at the Conference of Catholic Bishops who authored a letter (pdf) eviscerating the assumptions of this House bill which Rep. Wagner esteems so highly that she becomes maudlin when she writes about it. Among the sentiments expressed by the Bishops’ Committee on Migration:
If the humanitarian and refugee crisis posed by children fleeing violence in Central America were happening anywhere else in the world, the United States would appropriately implore nations in that region to protect them from harm. We have done so in the case of Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans fleeing persecution in the Near East; Somalis, Congolese, and Sudanese in Africa; and Burmese, Hmong, and Vietnamese in Southeast Asia.
Sorry, Rep. Wagner, no matter how warm and loving you and your GOP pals feel when you cruelly pander to your dim-witted, latino-fearing base, many of us oh-so-emotional women can still parse the factual context as well as the emotional. And sadly, you all come up short on both counts, head and heart.
* Three last sentences in third from last paragraph restored after being inadvertently omitted.