Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate launched a petition today to encourage voters to tell Terry McAuliffe to “break the silence” when it comes to Democratic luminaries mistreating women: Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Bob Filner. The Cuccinelli campaign argues, “by refusing to speak out, he [McAuliffe] is only condoning the real war on women.”
Certainly this might be a good campaign tactic and one that is likely to drum up support among conservative voters. But let’s be honest, does anyone think Democratic lawmakers are actually going to speak out? This is just plain old political hypocrisy at its worst.
What’s more disgusting, however, is the silence from progressive women’s groups and columnists who have embraced this double-standard.
EMILY's List made one of the most egregious comments: that the "war on women" has nothing to do with philandering pols — and is instead about a policy platform. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, seized on the moment with an almost identical message.
The bottom line is that for Democrats, as long as your politics are correct – meaning you support unfettered abortion rights and big government – you can behave any way you want. And that’s what’s despicable.
But the larger question is how should Republicans like Cuccinelli handle the situation moving forward? How can they use they better use these scandals to their benefit?
My two cents: Trying to play “gotcha” with Democrats on this is useless. The GOP absolutely doesn’t want to get into a tit for tat. They’ll lose every time, because the public perception of the GOP is that they have an out-dated view of gender roles and this is just going to help reinforce that.
The only thing Republicans can and should do is offer a direct, positive economic message that will resonate with women. If you want my opinion, it’s a show don’t tell kind of moment.
The bottom line is if conservatives can’t use these scandals to have a constructive conversation and talk honestly and persuasively to women about the policies that matter to them, they are doomed.