Much of what is in the headlines today won’t be what will shape the general election in the fall. The candidates, the macro themes, the contrast and the political environment will be very different in November. However, there is one issue set and block of voters that Republicans need to pay attention to immediately. A big problem with women voters is developing that could make the difference in the election.
A confluence of issues, gaffes, lightning strikes and deft management by the Democrats has put the GOP off-key and on the brink of alienating women voters, whom we must have on our side. Every Republican should study, not just read, Kathleen Parker’s March 10 column, “The GOP Made This Bed,” in The Washington Post. But Republicans should avoid using the word “bed” while we are in this mistake-prone, fragile position. In fact, Parker’s column is a useful glossary of words and phrases Republicans should avoid. Contraceptives, slut, sex tapes, sex, transvaginal probe, birth control, purity tribunal, pagan women and many more. We need to stop talking about social issues until we know why we want to say it, what we want to say and whom we want to say it to. We should be hypersensitive to our language. No Republican should even talk about the recent solar storm, the sun flares and the “coronal mass ejection” that resulted.
Where is the savant wordmeister Frank Luntz when we need him?
It is easy to dismiss my alarm by saying that women’s issues are pocketbook issues and it is all about the economy. That might have been true, but as Parker makes clear, we have gotten off the economic issues and strayed into the bedroom and personal matters that turn off a lot of women. We have done some damage, and some restorative work must be done. The best way to start our rehabilitation is to quit doing harm. Let's all take the “Daniels’ pledge,” named after Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, call a truce on social issues and stick to an economic message. And let’s not deny the obvious or hide behind the righteousness of our cause. When we stray into these issues, we get burned.