Nastiest lead sentence of the day:

The conservative minds of the Heritage Foundation have found a way for Republicans to shrink the gender gap: They need to persuade more women to get their MRS degrees.

That is Washington Post’s columnist Dana Milbank’s takeaway from a Heritage panel to mark the final day of Women’s History Month. I didn’t make it to the Heritage panel, but I know enough about the conservative response to the “war on women” rhetoric to be dead certain that Milbank’s coverage is a caricature. (Here is the video of the event.)

Some of IWF’s favorite women were on the panel, including columnist and author Mona Charen, Mollie Hemingway of the newly-launched The Federalist website, and Karen Agness, founder of the Network of Enlightened Women and an IWF senior fellow.

Of the 749 comments that Milbank’s article garnered, this one is typical:

Interesting that the 2 women on the panel both have jobs one is a writer and one runs a think tank. Appears they are not practicing what they preach.

Actually, all three women mentioned in Milbank's article are employed and are writers. Unless Mona, Mollie, and Karen, all friends, aren't telling me something, not one of them is raising a kid on welfare. Indeed, they all  practice what they preach. Rather eloquently, I'd say.

In an age when the Obama campaign of 2012 proposed “The Life of Julia,” an infomercial advertising “Julia’s” happy life of cradle-to-grave dependence on the government as a model for women, an antidote is required. One antidote is to inform young women that, if they propose to have children, they will be much better off if they first get married.

Milbank wrote this:

As a matter of statistics, this is true: President Obama’s 11-point win among women in 2012 came entirely from his 36-point advantage among unmarried women. But Republicans will be waiting a long time if they think they can improve their fortunes by persuading more women to get hitched. Essentially, they’re saying that Republicans aren’t the ones who need to change — women are.

Actually, inadvertently and nastily, Milbank has hit upon a truth about conservative positions: we believe that we can and should improve our own lives and that in so doing we will improve our own fortunes. Sometimes this requires us to change. That around 40 percent of children born in the U.S. today are born to single mothers indicates to me that, for the health of future generations, something must change.

I do believe that any party that has lost two presidential campaigns against President Obama, whose policies are strangling the economy, needs to change.

But women who damage their prospects and those of their children by having children out of wedlock also need to know that there is a better way.

Many social pathologies can be reduced if women marry before having children. The panelists, rather than asking women to enter into some antediluvian state of dependence on a cave man, seemed merely to be proposing that marriage as the norm for raising children should be restored.

I loved the iconoclasm displayed last night (as quoted by an uncomprehending Milbank):

“We’re gathered to celebrate Women’s History Month, but I don’t celebrate Women’s History Month,” announced writer Mona Charen, one of the panelists. “It doesn’t interest me whether a person who happens to share my chromosomes sits in the Oval Office. It doesn’t interest me how many women members of the Senate there are.”

What interests Charen and the other women on the stage is their belief, as Charen put it, that “feminism has done so much damage to happiness.” And the solution to this damage, it turns out, is matrimony — the same thing that will solve problems such as income inequality and the Republican Party’s standing among women.

Milbank has some advice—and in giving it, he tips his hand as an in-the-bag apologist for the Democrats:

There’s a running debate on the trade-offs of feminism, but this sort of traditional assault on the movement is unlikely to boost the GOP’s standing among women.

If Republicans want to appeal to more unmarried women, they might reconsider the no-exception opposition to abortion and, increasingly, birth control that dominates the party.

Gentle Reader, do you really know any Republicans who "increasingly" want to make birth control illegal?

It is a useful myth that the Republican Party “increasingly” opposes birth control. Except for a few statements of his personal views from former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, you’d be hard put to find a Republican who has said anything about birth control. They don’t care.

What they care about is religious liberty. If the Obama administration would abandon its campaign to force people to violate their religious convictions by paying for something they regard as morally questionable, the contraception “issue” would go away. I rather suspect that the Democrats don’t want it to go away. Nor do they want to be honest about it: it is valuable to pretend that the GOP is dominated by men just waiting for an electoral victory that will allow them to snatch birth control pills from the hands of women. Ain't true, but Democrats know they have a talking point.

Going back to Milbank’s nasty lead sentence, I wonder if we’ll ever see one like this in the Washington Post:

The liberal minds of the Center for American Progress and similar organizations have found a way for Democrats to expand the gender gap: They need to persuade more women to have children out of wedlock and increase their dependence on the federal government.