by Randolph T. Holhut
Chief of AR Correspondents
March 1, 2012
THE NEED TO BEAR WITNESS, NO MATTER THE COST
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- It shouldn't come as a surprise that that the far right is not just opposed to abortion, but contraception, too. Allowing women to have control over their bodies has never been allowed in their universe.
The surprise is that this policy stance has gone from far right lunacy to an issue that Republican candidates are campaigning on, and trying to cloak that lunacy behind the cry of "religious freedom."
You think this would have been settled by now. The birth control pill has been in use for more than 50 years. Abortion has been legal in the United States for nearly 40 years. Sex has been successfully decoupled from procreation, and most men and women are happy about that.
But the noisy claque who hates women, hates the idea of sex for pleasure, and hates freedom of thought and action is back with a vengeance. And, once again, we have to mobilize to fight for women's health and reproductive rights - a fight that in a rational world wouldn't be taking place. It's the one fight where Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the GOP are on the same page.
To me, the amazing thing is that the beatdown that the Susan G. Komen Foundation got for cutting off its funding for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics should have served as a warning to the far right that this is not a strategy that will win elections.
Instead, conservatives are doubling down on their attacks against Planned Parenthood and birth control in their never-ending struggle to refight the culture wars and hate on women. Both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney vowed not fun Planned Parenthood during the Feb. 22 Arizona GOP Presidential Primary debate.
"Planned Parenthood should get nothing!" Rep. Ron Paul exclaimed at one point.
Again, why are Republicans doing this? The answer is that they have little else to run on.
Republicans certainly can't campaign on the economy.
In the past few months, new housing construction is up. New auto sales are up. Consumer spending is starting pick up. At the same time, new unemployment claims have declined to their lowest level since the recession began in early 2008. The overall unemployment rate, while still way too high, is slowly falling. And the number of long-term unemployed is slowly falling too. Even the Republican stock market has hit 13,000, the hoghest level sincxe May 20, 2008 - near the end of the Bush Administration.
All this is happening despite the best efforts of the Republicans in Congress to sabotage the economy to try and make Barack Obama a one-term president. Plus the Occupy movement has successfully changed the conversation from obsessing over budget deficits to spotlighting the greed of the richest 1 percent of Americans and how economic inequality threatens our democracy.
Republicans can't campaign on national security, either.
Osama bin Laden is dead, and the U.S. is on the offensive fighting terrorism in more ways and in more places than the Bush Administration ever dreamed of. And President Obama has expanded the national security state beyond the fondest desires of the Bush team. The Republican claims that Obama is weakening America ring very hollow.
So, if you can't effectively attack the President on the economy, and you can't effectively attack him on national security, what's left?
You attack Mr. Obama and the Democrats on religion and so-called "family values." You accuse Obama of waging a war against religion. You talk piously about "faith" and claim the Obama Administration doesn't respect the views of Christians. You talk about a twisted definition of morality, and glide over the morality of taking health care away from the poor and elderly to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.
And so on. And so forth.
Don't think that Rick Santorum is an aberration. A wide swath of the Republican Party share his beliefs. They don't believe in evolution or man-made global warming. They don't believe in the separation of church and state, and think their interpretation of the Bible trumps any law. They don't believe in using tax dollars to maintain a public education system. And they don't believe a woman has a right to control her reproductive organs.
In a civilized nation, women would have access to all aspects of health care, including reproductive health, without argument. But our nation is no longer civilized, and no longer believes in reason and logic. This is why we have a political party who wants to turn the clock back a century or two, and subscribes to ideas that were once beyond the political pale.
And, unfortunately for the few sane people that might still be in the Republican Party, the anti-reason, anti-science, and anti-woman faction of the party has put all this reactionary nonsense on the table for the whole world to see. The worst instincts of humanity have now become virtues, and the eventual Republican nominee will have to hew to them.
There still is a lot of time between now and November, but if this is what the Republicans want to be running on, President Obama will win a second term by a huge margin.
AR Chief Correspondent Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org./i>