Over the weekend, Susan Saulny had a report in the New York Times on “centrist women” who are turning against the Republican Party, and I must say, I’m a little disappointed. Not that the article’s a hatchet job, mind you—that’s what I’ve come to expect from the Times. No, I’m disappointed that it’s such a shoddy attempt; I’ve come to expect much more effort and creativity from America’s premiere propagandists.
From a “randomly generated list of voters,” Saulny interviews a handful of self-described moderate or Republican women who claim that the birth control debate currently raging in the media has destroyed whatever intention they have of voting for the GOP candidate in November:
- Mary Russell, retired teacher, “evangelical Christian and ‘old school’ Republican who supported Mitt Romney “just two weeks ago” but is now considering Barack Obama: “We all agreed that this seemed like a throwback to 40 years ago. I didn’t realize I had a strong viewpoint on this until these conversations. 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.”
- Fran Kelly, retired public school worker who voted for John McCain in 2008: “Everybody is so busy telling us how we should act in the bedroom, they’re letting the country fall through the cracks. They’re nothing but hatemongers trying to control everyone, saying, ‘Live as I live.’ If Republicans would stop all this ridiculous talk about contraception, I’d consider voting in November.”
- Deborah Stevens, self-described “dyed in the wool Republican”: “I’m looking for a candidate that will be honest, that will come out and say, ‘Yes, I support women, I want you advanced and not trampled upon.’ I want answers desperately. I want candidates to tell me, ‘I’m not overturning Roe v. Wade.’ It’s there. Leave it there.”
- Jessica Lopez, registered independent who voted for George W. Bush in 2004: “This has really energized me, that I need to get more involved with the Obama campaign. The G.O.P. has never been so clear about their agenda for women. I’m afraid if we get a Republican president, my health will be up to their personal discretion.”
“Randomly generated,” huh? To put this in context, let’s take a look at all the coincidences embodied in this “random” sampling—all of which somehow break in the same direction:
- All of these voters are apparently under the false impression that someone has proposed some sort of legal prohibition on birth control, and none of them can apparently distinguish between birth control access and forcing a private entity to offer it.
- All of these voters are so outraged at the GOP for not fiercely denouncing Rush Limbaugh for insulting Sandra Fluke as a “slut” (here are Santorum, Gingrich, and Romney’s reactions) that it’s enough to get the to switch sides…yet they’re apparently comfortable defecting to Obama despite his continued support for misogynistic comedian Bill Maher.
- Three of these voters consider conservative views on sex-related issues deal-breakers, yet allegedly had no problem voting for Sarah Palin and George W. Bush, both of whom were at the time widely perceived as being more stridently right-wing on such issues than Romney or Gingrich.
- A “dyed in the wool” Republican just happens to consider the preservation of Roe v. Wade a top priority, despite her own party’s “dyed in the wool” position being the exact opposite. The others claim not to be liberal partisans, yet perfectly recite left-wing boilerplate about “hatemongers” and politicians taking over women’s personal decisions.
It strains credibility to suggest nobody from Saulny’s random sampling were more well-informed on the controversy, or happened to oppose the HHS mandate. And, wouldn’t you know it, some women do! Alana Goodman at Commentary decided to take a more analytical look at the Times’ question, and found that as of today, Washington Post/ABC News polling finds “no measurable effect” of the scandal on the political climate; if anything, Romney’s numbers against Obama have improved slightly among women as well as men.
While the public opinion battle rages on, fortunately we can safely say that American women aren’t as monolithic, ignorant, or sex-obsessed as the New York Times would have us believe.