Last night, the GOP's response to the President's State of the Union made history: a woman delivered it. Two women, actually. See? They're not alienating to women at all, unless you count the other stuff they did yesterday, which includes passing a bill that would make it all but impossible for many women to pay for abortions and calling Rachel Maddow a "cheerleader" to her face.
President Obama's State of the Union included several HOORAY FOR WOMEN moments— a Mad Men reference that would have made Roger Sterling so mad he'd throw a pack of cigarettes at liquor cart in humiliated disgust, a call for equal pay for equal work that led to some fists pumping, a shout out to GM Chairwoman Mary Barra, and an appeal for relief to the long-term unemployed, which included one woman who was a guest of the First Lady. Ladies, ladies, ladies. President Obama loves the ladies, say President Obama's prepared remarks.
So, too, does the GOP, according to the GOP, who desperately wants to empower the ladies to vote for them so they can, in turn, empower the ladies to have babies, which will keep them busy for awhile so they stop bothering the government about boring lady stuff like equal pay laws and access to medical care and not being raped.
The woman tasked with conveying this to the American people was Washington's Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who delivered the SOTU rebuttal from what appeared to be the set of a Hallmark Channel original movie called President Mom. The whole thing was very nice and hopeful and not at all manic and hydrophilic/Rubioesque, which was good, but the speech itself was a bowl of Cool Whip sprinkled with just a dash of abortion filmed through a soft-focus lens. Apparently abortion has proven to be such a winning issue for the GOP that they can't shut up about it, even when they're responding to a speech the President makes that doesn't mention abortion at all.
McMorris Rodgers, in addition to being a rare powerful woman in the GOP's overwhelmingly male House leadership, is staunchly anti-abortion, and often uses the fact that she has a son with Down Syndrome as a way to bolster her position with pathos. And last night was no exception. I have a son with Down Syndrome and everything worked out just perfectly for my family, reasons the power woman with the stay-at-home husband who collects a Navy pension, and so therefore no one, anywhere, ever should have abortions. It's some pretty masterful anti-abortion dog whistle talk.
But when we looked at our son, we saw only possibilities. We saw a gift from God. And today we see a 6-year-old boy who dances to Bruce Springsteen; who reads above grade level; and who is the best big brother in the world.
We see all the things he can do, not those he can't.
And Cole, and his sisters, Grace and Brynn, have only made me more determined to see the potential in every human life, that whether we're born with an extra 21st chromosome or without a dollar to our name, we are not defined by our limits, but by our potential, because our mission, not only as Republicans, but as Americans, is to once again to ensure that we are not bound by where we come from, but empowered by what we can become.
McMorris Rodgers' specific set of circumstances, career trajectory, and good fortune have allowed her and her family to provide a wonderful life and tons of loving attention for a special needs child, who they raised into a thriving little boy. It's a sweet story, but the next step in that logical progression isn't Therefore, everyone's personal circumstances must be prepared for all children always. Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — ALSO A WOMAN VOTE FOR US GUYS — gave a version of McMorris Rodgers' speech in Spanish, ostensibly with the details of McMorris Rodgers' life replaced with details of Ros-Lehtinen's life. Two women? Sold. I'm voting Republican.
But wait! Turns out that while the GOP wasn't tapping its thin ranks of women to say Republican-approved talking points to TV cameras, they spent the day busily passing House Resolution 7, aka the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act. HR7, apart from being a waste of time that will never even be up for discussion in the Democrat-controlled Senate, would bar private insurance carriers who operate on the Obamacare exchanges from offering abortion coverage to women who buy policies with their own money. It would also allow women to deduct abortion-related medical expenses from their taxes if and only if they can prove to the IRS that those abortions were the product of incest or rape (And you thought hiring an accountant who moonlights as a gynecologist was impractical). It's a garbage, wingnut pandering, dead-in-the-water bill with insulting implications. But remember: the GOP loves women. They let two women talk last night.
And finally, there's this shiny conservative gem, from Kansas Republican Rep/actual crazy person Tim Huelskamp, whose response to the State of the Union was: BENGHAZI. And then he called Rachel Maddow a cheerleader. The whole exchange is borderline incoherent and stupid in a way that even dwarfs the wingnuttery of Michele Bachmann. If you're pressed for time, fast forward to 4:45.
See? The GOP loves women. They just love em.
Abortion. Benghazi. God Bless America.