Rowdy With a Chance of Screwballs

From Betsy Reed at THE Nation:

In the media spectacle that is the 2010 midterm elections, women of the GOP are playing starring roles. They have figured prominently in nearly every plot and subplot that holds any real interest or potential for debased amusement: from Indian-American Nikki Haley’s triumph over her mudslinging male rivals for the GOP gubernatorial nod in South Carolina, to Carly Fiorina’s catty open-mic swipe at her opponent Barbara Boxer’s hair in the first-ever contest between two women for a California Senate seat, to WWF founder and Connecticut Senate hopeful Linda McMahon’s gifts to oh-so-lucky Democratic ad firms (including video of the candidate physically attacking a buxom, scantily clad woman purporting to be her husband’s lover), to the daily dose of clips revealing Christine O’Donnell’s youthful preoccupations with witchcraft and masturbation. Remember when politics was boring?

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As Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a 2012 presidential aspirant, proclaimed, “It’s going to be a new day, a new era in terms of the face and voice and tone of the Republican Party, and I think that’s really good.” A movie just released by the conservative group Citizens United tells this happy tale: Fire From the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman features Michele Bachmann and Ann Coulter, among others.

The “GOP Year of the Woman,” a label tossed out by pundits in the wake of some primaries in June, has been zestfully adopted by party operatives. “I like strong women,” wrote strategist Mark McKinnon in The Daily Beast. “Agree with them or not, it’s the women of the GOP…who are tough enough to say exactly what they think. And their words are resonating with an increasingly vocal electoral bloc.”

But are they?


[I]f 2010 is the year of anything other than antiestablishment rage, it is the year of the right-wing woman, a type that has prospered at the expense of moderates, male and female alike. It is true that a record number of women filed to run for office this year as Republicans—some of whom may have been inspired by Sarah Palin’s example. But it is also true that a record number lost: of the 128 women running for the House, eighty-one were defeated in their primaries, leaving forty-seven still in the running. In the Senate, seventeen filed to run, but only five won. That’s a much higher rate of primary loss for Republican women than in the previous six election cycles. With some exceptions, the female candidates who survived are very, very conservative. Debbie Walsh, director of the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics, says, “This is something quite far from a year of the woman. From the past, I would have assumed that the Republican women who are elected tend to be more moderate than Republican men. In this crop, we saw some very conservative women running and winning.” It may well be that the Tea Party, with its bottom-up structure, provided an opening for ultraright women, like Christine O’Donnell, who had been grassroots activists but were hungry for a larger role in the electoral arena.

But to understand where GOP gender dynamics really are, it’s important to consider not only the women who won this year’s primaries but those who lost, and why. The picture that emerges is one of a national party that, at best, takes its women candidates for granted even as it plays up its new female-friendly image. Take Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Colorado’s Jane Norton, both mainstream Republican women who saw little support from the party as they struggled to fend off their hard-right male challengers. While the party whacked away at O’Donnell in its futile attempt to save moderate Mike Castle in Delaware, it failed to respond with such alacrity when the Palin-endorsed Tea Partyer Joe Miller took aim at Murkowski—emphasizing her relative liberalism on abortion rights—in the Alaska Senate primary.


When, after her primary loss, Murkowski launched a write-in campaign targeting Miller—a climate change denier who favors abolishing Medicaid and Social Security—as an extremist, the party’s wrath was unleashed upon her, with minority leader Mitch McConnell threatening to strip her of her position as ranking member of the Energy Committee and declaring that she “no longer has my support for serving in any leadership roles.” As Senate vice chair, she had been the party’s sole female in a top leadership position. Karl Rove called her a “spoilsport” and her write-in campaign “sad and sorry.”

As for Norton, the GOP establishment candidate for Senate in Colorado, after being recruited by the party she was largely on her own in a nasty contest with Tea Partyer Ken Buck—who opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest along with many forms of birth control and asked for voters’ support because “I don’t wear high heels.”


Among the very few institutional forces dedicated to fostering Republican women’s leadership is the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund. (It was at an SBA breakfast that Sarah Palin gave the Mama Grizzlies speech heard round the world.) But the fund, which says it promotes prolife women in politics, allotted 25 percent of its Congressional endorsements this cycle to antiabortion men, highlighting how several such candidates could unseat prochoice women in Congress.


Then there are groups like the Republican Majority for Choice, which are facing a tough slog right now. “I would be very careful marketing all Republican women candidates as Sarah Palin. I actually think that’s insulting to these women—they should be seen on their own terms,” says RMC co-chair Candy Straight, who observes how rough the electoral environment is for moderate women, who are seen as more ready to collaborate than convey the voters’ anger to Washington. (Moderate GOP women running in governor’s races appear likely to fare better in November, perhaps because voters are more apt to support a perceived problem-solver in an executive role.) To put the “GOP Year of the Woman” in further perspective, keep in mind that some of the most conspicuous Republican women candidates, like Carly Fiorina, Linda McMahon and Meg Whitman (who has spent a record-shattering $119 million), are self-funders—meaning that their campaigns do not reflect any significant investment of resources by the national party.


The gender gap, in which women voters consistently favor Democrats, is holding steady this year, at anywhere from 16 to 20 points, depending on the poll. Says a high-level Democratic operative working on the midterm election campaign, “Do we have a battle on our hands? Yes. But am I concerned that in particular we have the Mama Grizzlies, lots of really conservative women, coming to the polls? No. That is a branding strategy, not an electoral strategy.”

Although the electorate in general is more conservative this year, and conservative voters are more energized, there has been no relative growth in the proportion of women who describe themselves as conservative—it’s around one-third, compared with 44 percent of men. That doesn’t mean that the passionate female following described in so many breathless stories about the Mama Grizzlies is imaginary, just that its size and significance have been inflated.


No doubt the “babe factor” has something to do with it: Palin’s sex appeal is a frequent topic of right-wing male talkers like Rush Limbaugh, and similar voices in Delaware waxed on about Christine O’Donnell being “easy on the eyes”; one even issued an “Alert” for the “Major Babe.”


More substantively, government-bashing, a favorite pastime of many ultraconservative female candidates, goes over much better with men than with women, who are more likely to support an active government role in the economy, education, healthcare and environmental protection. After all, women benefit more from government policies like childcare subsidies and family leave, and they are disproportionately reliant on Social Security to protect them from poverty in old age, so it is only logical that they look askance at politicians of either gender who make careers out of demonizing government.


Michele Bachmann provides a vivid example of how right-wing female politicians div


Filed under abortion, Alaska, Barbara Boxer, California, Congress, Democrats, Harry Reid, humor, Karl Rove, Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski, Medicaid, Mitch McConnell, movies, parody, politics, Republicans, Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Senate, snark, South Carolina, Wordpress Political Blogs

31 responses to “Rowdy With a Chance of Screwballs

  1. lindsey graham??hahahahahahahaha!

  2. you are amazing!!! i’m still laughing!

  3. Spanx made a killing on that photo op. 😀

    Nice picture! I can say I marvel at the diversity of meanness and the inclusiveness of lunacy.

  4. They ARE multiplying!

    And look Ms Sarah has gone on a shopping spree.
    I’m guessing god told her to.

  5. Must be quick, last load of furniture. See You guys in a week.

  6. Pingback: Tweets that mention Rowdy With a Chance of Screwballs « HYSTERICAL RAISINS --

  7. Cottonmouth

    A female grizzly bear is also known as a “sow.” So does that also mean that Palin could correctly be refered to as a “sow?”

    • hello cottonmouth,

      welcome to the raisin! 😀

      sow would be a much kinder word than the one i usually use to refer to princess sarah (and quite a few of the others, too).

  8. Great job nonnie. Was this a scene from a movie?

    • thanks apples! 🙂 it’s a scene from stage door. when i first found it accidentally, i thought it was from the women, but i should have realized that katherine hepburn was not in that movie. when i posted it over at the big orange, i was surprised that so many people identified the movie immediately.

  9. Joanaroo

    Year of the Woman? BWAH! HAH! HAH! HAH! If these represent what the woman of America is supposed to be, then the Woman must be resigned to be a lying, conniving, subservient, appearance-priority, childbearing (barefoot & preggers), Bible-spouting, hypocritical bitch. No thank you. America can do without these loads of bullshit.

  10. this may be your best (and you have so many bests)

    • awww,thanks dcAp! i was very surprised at the reaction to this one. it was so much fun to work on, so it was nice that a lot of people appreciated it. i love the old movies.

  11. This Jerry you speak of, is he that fool that thought a full gas tank would get him all the way to Amarillo? (-17 miles) Was he that guy I saw swaying in the New Mexico winds? Surely he wasn’t the fool involved in the great Arizona standoff with the kitten police! And only a total moron would try to drive a 15 year old Ford van laden with books and electric guitars while towing a Ranchero over a 8627 foot summit of a mountain range. I’m telling you, a guy with judgement like that won’t last.