Like Mel Gibson in that 2000 cinematic masterpiece, Mike Huckabee just wants to understand what women want. The erstwhile Arkansas governor, presidential candidate, and Fox talking head has been trying to change the narrative of the GOP’s difficulty connecting with women voters. His argument: Democrats’ focus on women’s reproductive health is demeaning, and makes them “victims of their gender.”
There’s good reason for Huckabee to have female politicians on the brain. In a recent CNN poll, he led Republicans but trailed Hillary Clinton, 56 percent to 39 percent. In last Saturday’s CPAC straw poll, Huckabee was sandwiched between Condoleezza Rice and Sarah Palin for second-to-last place.
Despite, or perhaps because of, these losses, Huckabee says that female political opponents should be given a lighter touch than man-on-man political wrassling. In an interview with The New Republic, Huckabee speculated on the difficulties of running against a female candidate, and he made a comment reminiscent of this scene from “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”
“I’ve twice run against women opponents, and it’s a very different kind of approach,” he tells [TNR reporter Nora Caplan-Bricker]. Different how? “For those of us who have some chivalry left, there’s a level of respect…. You treat some things as a special treasure; you treat other things as common.” A male opponent is “common,” a woman requires “a sense of pedestal.”
Huckabee is trying to convince female voters that it is Democrats, not Republicans, who are essentializing them by their reproductive organs (never mind that he once argued that women are worse at multitasking than men because of their menstrual cycles). During his speech to the RNC in January, Huckabee went on a doozy of a rant, arguing that Democrats see the government as “Uncle Sugar” and treat women as “hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have a government provide for them birth-control medication.”
Huckabee’s new quest is to protect female voters from Democratic brainwashing, and to defend the honor of his female opponents by giving them “a sense of pedestal.” As Huckabee told TNR: “I treat my wife very differently than I treat my chums and my pals. I wouldn’t worry about calling them on Valentine’s Day, opening the door for them, or making sure they were OK.”
But, while I appreciate a good door-holding-open as much as the next girl, Huckabee’s chivalry argument doesn’t really hold up when you’re trying to win elections. Political campaigns don’t have to be sexist, but they are innately unchivalrous (if they’re run well, at least). It’s disingenuous to conflate every political attack with sexism, and it’s a flawed argument made by both parties — Hillary Clinton’s hard-core defenders will often cry “Sexism!” as a crutch against legitimate criticism. Both sides are trying to convince women that the other party is condescending to them. But only Huckabee thinks it’s apt to compare Valentine’s Day to Election Day.
What We're Following See More »
"The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991...Putting the B-52s back on alert is just one of many decisions facing the Air Force as the U.S. military responds to a changing geopolitical environment that includes North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear arsenal, President Trump’s confrontational approach to Pyongyang, and Russia’s increasingly potent and active armed forces."
"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."
"President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lewandowski is the latest senior official in Trump's orbit who has met with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign."
"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."