Is the GOP ready to see women as equal under God?

“Game Change,” HBO’s move adaptation of the Mark Halperin and John Heilemann book about the 2008 presidential election, has drawn … Continued

“Game Change,” HBO’s move adaptation of the Mark Halperin and John Heilemann book about the 2008 presidential election, has drawn criticism. But I found it quite a good film, and Julianne Moore’s portrayal of Palin, whatever your views, is just uncanny. The politics of Palin’s selection, and her campaign performance, was also believable. In fact, Nicolle Wallace, one of Palin’s main handlers in the film, played by Sarah Paulson, said on a Sunday morning talk show that the HBO film was “true enough to make me squirm.”

Phil Caruso

AP

In this image released by HBO, Julianne Moore portrays Sarah Palin, left, and Woody Harrelson portrays campaign strategist Steve Schmidt in a scene from “Game Change,” a film about Palin and the 2008 presidential race.

I squirmed too, though for perhaps a different reason. The movie forcefully reminded me that picking a woman as McCain’s running mate was not about Palin’s qualifications, but about saving a stalled campaign. As I was watching the movie, I experienced a dawning sense of “déjà vu all over again” in Yogi Berra’s inimitable phrase. McCain’s campaign advisors realized they needed a game changing maneuver because McCain was polling behind with women voters.

Where have we heard that recently? Oh, yes. The current GOP is rapidly losing women voters, especially centrist women and some self-identified Republicans.

That’s not good, because women vote.

It gets worse. The decision for Palin gets made because candidate McCain did not excite the conservative base. Neither does Mitt Romney with his by now well-known “enthusiasm gap.”

Where have we seen this movie before?

I ended up feeling some compassion for Sarah Palin as I watched. Yes, Palin is in many ways her own worst enemy, but she was thrust into national prominence in a negligent fashion and the film shows she is clearly way, way over her head. The McCain campaign picked her for VP with no substantial vetting. As portrayed in the film, after the decision is made to put a woman on the ticket, an aide does a Google search for Republican women. He sees Palin in a YouTube video and becomes fascinated. Palin is plunged, with no real qualifications, on to a national stage because she first looked good to an aide.

Of course, there is the irresponsibility: Even Dick Cheney is appalled, and said picking Palin for VP was a ‘reckless choice,’ a senior aide reports. Then, in what is widely regarded as the funniest line in the movie, this same aide comments, “When you lose the moral high ground of Dick Cheney, it’s time to rethink your entire life.”

But what is most significant about the careless choice of Palin is what it reveals about the attitude of the McCain campaign toward women overall. When polling shows that the McCain is doing poorly among women, the way Palin is picked as a “woman VP” candidate is a Google search for some woman who looked good. Really, it’s insulting.

And this mattered to Republican women. In one of the most poignant moments in the film, Sarah Palin is at a rally. Mothers of Down Syndrome children are moved by her speech and come up to Palin. They tell her they and their kids feel welcome at this rally. Palin, the mother of a handicapped child, matters to them. Palin started to matter to mothers overall. One woman says it best: “I’ve got five kids too. She’s talking to me, and nobody talks to me.”

These Republican women deserved to have a woman candidate who was better prepared for the job.

So, I started to worry. If ever there were a party in need of a “Game Change,” it is Republicans in 2012. Mitt Romney inspires no enthusiasm, and is still stalled by challengers Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. This slow-moving train wreck will continue until the convention, when it is likely that Romney will emerge the nominee. Romney’s vacuous response to Rush Limbaugh’s attacks on Sarah Fluke will continue to haunt him unless there is a change.

Clearly the GOP needs to get women back, but how? The current mindset that dominates the GOP, revealed in the attacks on birth control and women’s right to privacy, is a gross miscalculation about women today and their view of themselves. This becomes clear in a recent interview with a self-identified “old school” 57 year-old Republican woman who is a Christian evangelical. This GOP attack on birth control seemed to her “a throwback to 40 years ago.” This is a new realization for this retired teacher regarding the Republican presidential candidates. “If they’re going to decide on women’s reproductive issues, I’m not going to vote for any of them. Women’s reproduction is our own business.”

Many women, including this Christian evangelical woman, don’t want to go back to a time when their self-determination was subject to someone else’s control. In 2012 there’s a line in the sand emerging for women voters.

So the question for this presidential year is this: Will the GOP leadership be able to actually see this line in the sand and pull back? Can they start to respect women as self-determining, equal American citizens and voters who care about issues like the economy and health care? In faith terms, will they be able to see women as equally created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27), women who have religious freedom and can equally exercise religious conscience? Unless they do, the risk is the current GOP could once again regard a woman VP choice as just an attractive pawn to be manipulated in the game of politics.

I actually became concerned, in watching “Game Change,” that with the current GOP leadership seemingly unable or unwilling to see women as fully equal either in politics or in faith, another effort to “appeal to women” on the presidential ticket could produce another gross miscalculation in picking a VP. I hope not.

  • tonyr4096

    Perhaps the reason that McCain was losing the female vote had more to do with him being perceived as a Beltway insider and member of the GOP “old boy network”. Considering the direction the country has been going in the last 20-30 years, it’s enough to disgust anyone, including male voters. I realized in the 1980s that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties: The Democrats are driving us over a cliff in a Chevrolet Impala at 75 miles per hour while the Republicans are driving us over that same cliff in an Oldsmobile at 50 miles per hour. Take your pick; you’re just as dead in the end either way.

  • ccnl1

    Why should the GOP or for that matter why should Christianity treat woman as equals under god or anyone else?

    To wit:

    Anti-female comments in “Pauls” epistles.

    8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

    9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

    10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
    11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

    12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

    13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

    14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

    15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

    ( Timothy 2:8-15 KJV)”

    “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)”

    “He (Paul) feared the turn-on of women’s voices as much as the sight of their hair and skin….. At one point he even suggests that the sight of female hair might distract any angels/ “pretty wingie talking fictional thingies” in church attendance (1 Cor. 11:10). (from Professor Chilton’s book Rabbi Paul).

  • scottsimik

    I was a McCain supporter and also did know Palin. but when they announce, I looked at everyone and said he just lost the election, She is a nice Women but there are a few screws missing. Now back to the Republicans and Women, The Republicans have no respect toward women, Listen to the front runners and how they treat women, Can they pull the women back into the party not with the front runners the only one who has shown respect to women and the republican hate with a passion and that is Ron Paul.

  • ohioan

    This movie is just another reminder of how Democrats verbally-abused Palin,
    for years. Democrats would never do this to a male candidate either.

    Democrats have a history of verbally-abusing women, Hillary Clinton is another
    example.

  • 1shykitten

    Wow, the one thing this election cycle has proven to me is the utter bias of the mainstream media. In this reality, conservative women must be destroyed. Black conservatives must be destroyed. Hispanic conservatives must be destroyed – all in the name of retaining the Democratic Party’s exclusive franchise on these groups. That a woman (or Black, or Hispanic) might be conservative is so incomprehensible that they are dismissed as freaks, and calling them any sort of despicable name is perfectly acceptable. But that’s just the milieu against which your blog is set: reading this, one would think that a Republican candidates was actually opposed to birth control! NO candidate has suggested banning birth control. They may not believe in it as a matter of personal conscience, but none are going to “decide on women’s reproductive issues” or do anything that resembles “going back forty years.” What we raised our voices for in the 1970′s had everything to do with proving that we were responsible and competent to make our own decisions and care for our own bodies. There was no whining that an all-powerful, paternalistic State/insurance complex should take care of us because we were too befuddled to do it ourselves (yes, Ms. Fluke, I’m referring to you). If anyone is setting the women’s movement back forty years, it’s Ms. Fluke and her classmates, helpless in their quest to understand and care for their bodies without the intervention of the all-powerful State. So thank you, Ms. Thistlewaite, for your patronizing concern about conservative women. We’ll take it into consideration. Meantime, go back to worrying about the whales and the harp seals. They need you more than we do.

  • Kingofkings1

    A+ professor.
    Your point is entirely legitimate relayed in an excellent manner: There are bound to be smart women in a country of over 300 million. The McCain camp underestimated the intelligence of women. Sarah Palin may be good for Alaska, but we needed someone better for the nation. We can learn from our mistakes. All is not lost, since we don’t have a dictatorship or lifetime political appointments. The position of president and vice president is vacant every 4 years

  • EuroAm

    Uh, which GOP leadership? The Loony-Tunes Fanatically Conservative GOP leadership or the Republicans Of A Sane And Rational Intellect GOP leadership? The later, I like to believe, in the context of women is rational and intelligent but why they are so silent during the primary – only time will tell.

    Note to today’s Ultra-Conservatives-
    What the Liberals & Moderates shoved down the throats of kicking and screaming Conservatives during the 50′s, 60′s & 70′s is now accepted in the older and entrenched in the younger generations of the more-reasonable Conservatives.

    Leave it alone, you’ll only lose…again.

  • EuroAm

    Transference, avoidance & distraction…interesting.

    Guess your too young to remember Ross Perot & his grand selection for VP.

  • irvnx

    Are politicians ready to see the people as their betters is more the relevant question—
    given their arrogance, especially from such aristocrats such as McCain & Obama, I think not…

    PS That someone would think Republicans are different than Democrats is your erroneous presumption.

  • lastmogul

    Good comments on Game Change at Turtle Pond Cinema http://www.lastmogul.com.

  • Carstonio

    I suspect that the choice of Palin was not just because of her gender or appearance, but also because of her position on the legality of abortion. At the time the GOP had several female governors and senators who were better known nationally than Palin, but they all favored keeping abortion legal. My chief complaint about Palin, then and now, is her demagoguery.

  • ccnl1

    Why should the GOP or for that matter why should Christianity treat woman as equals under god or anyone else?

    To wit:

    Anti-female comments in “Pauls” epistles. (Paul by the way is one of Susan T’s favorite “saints”.)

    8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

    9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

    10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
    11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

    12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

    13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

    14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

    15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

    ( Timothy 2:8-15 KJV)”

    “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)”

    “He (Paul) feared the turn-on of women’s voices as much as the sight of their hair and skin….. At one point he even suggests that the sight of female hair might distract any angels/ “pretty wingie talking fictional thingies” in church attendance (1 Cor. 11:10). (from Professor Chilton’s book Rabbi Paul).

  • cricket44

    Palin let her ego and ambition get in the way of what was best for the country and what was best for her family. Male politicians do it, too.

    I vividly remember the day she was announced. I was raised by a Republican woman and there are many I respect and it *stymies* me that so many could not recognize the condescension and cynicism behind the picking of SP. It wasn’t the Democrats looking down on GOP women, it was their own party.

  • Georgetowner1

    Ask Hillary Clinton just how fair she was treated by the Democratic Party when she ran for President. She was clearly a superior candidate in terms of experience but, then again, she wasn’t The Man that Obama was (or they thought he was.) It’s a load of hooey that the Democratic Party treats women equally (unless they are a “woman” who “used to be” a man).

  • James210

    And the Blonde wars continue…

    what is ann coulter professor brooks?
    please inform hismajesty? thAT , i love blondes throw dirt at each other.
    buy a ticket if you don’t know?

    ample written evidence supporting claim of count 1 and count two with regards to presentation of cause.
    tell pops to look at the outgoing in initiating (office), pattern of false statements (?)in signature by court (employee) officer? what?
    she’s use to doing it

    i bet she’d say “she never knew”

  • jeb_jackson

    I suspect, Carstonio, from all your other posts, that your chief complaint about Palin, if you were honest with us, is her Christianity.