We know what Mike Huckabee meant. Sort of. Kind of. But, really?
Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate, talk-show host and erstwhile Baptist preacher, was trying to demythologize the alleged Republican “war on women” so brilliantly defined by Democrats in 2012.
Speaking at the Republican National Committee winter meeting Thursday, Huckabee said it was time to “no longer accept listening to the Democrats talk about a war on women.” Republicans aren’t waging a war on women, he said. “They have a war for women.”
The alleged war on women was based essentially on the notion that people who think abortion is a bad idea — or who don’t think the government should mandate insurance coverage for birth-control coverage — are anti-woman. Democrats point mainly to new state laws that have limited access to abortion, not to mention the unforgettable observations of a few Republican men about “legitimate” rape and so on.
Whatever one’s own position, Republicans could be characterized as waging a war on women only if no women agreed with the premises mentioned above. Protecting the rights of the unborn and fighting for freedom of conscience are not concerns only of men, nor should reproduction be the purview only of women.
But leave alone for a moment the principles and postulations of the reproductive debate. Most Americans have carved out their positions by now and the arguments are well-enough known. What Huckabee was saying was that women are not just packages of reproductive parts whose lives are circumscribed by access to birth control. This is the thinking he ascribes to Democrats. Instead, he said, Republicans are fighting a war for women “to be empowered to be something other than victims of their gender.”
Not bad so far, but then ... uh-oh.
“And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it, let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.”