Former Clinton administration press secretary Dee Dee Myers says that in the 2012 presidential election, women are largely a sideshow. But that's only true if you focus on the presidential candidate; as this legislative season has demonstrated all too well, a female candidate isn't the only "women's issue" at the ballot box.
In the absence of a serious figure, like [Hillary] Clinton, the women getting attention as the campaign season begins fall into two categories: provocative but unelectable and provocative but who may render their husbands unelectable.
She's right about Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin if she runs (though the political and gossip press, and their intersection, are bored with her), Callista Gingrich, and Cheri Daniels. ("The sheer volume of wives makes this group newsworthy," she declares. Alas, she lost Trump's count of three.)
None of these women are going to become president, so they function as mere entertainment or "fodder for debate." But anything interesting that could have been said or learned about these conservative women (the ones who aren't wives of), or their entanglement with the Tea Party, or their lack of intellectual mettle, was likely raked over in the 2010 election or around Sarah Palin's vice presidential candidacy. The 2008 election was a far more stimulating set of political and philosophical arguments on these grounds.
But we don't need to have a theoretical debate about a significantly less "entertaining" turn of events that affects women: The radical anti-choice agenda that's being pushed in the Republican-controlled House, and in statehouses across the country. Let's remember that it's not just the president voters will decide upon in 2012; Republicans are "optimistic" about retaking the Senate, which has been a partial bulwark against that agenda.
More broadly: Did voters elect those Republicans out of dissatisfaction with Democrats or the economy, or were they really signing up for a litany of pseudo-science, draconian restrictions, and defunding of women's health services? There's a question that deserves to go beyond the sideshow.
Women 2012: Sideshows [Politico]
Related: Republicans "Optimistic" About Retaking Senate [NYT]
Earlier: What Exactly Did The Presidential Election Change For Women?