Sunday, March 11, 2012


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This week, I'd like to reach across the aisle, as it were, and offer my thanks to a couple of Republicans.I know this might seem shocking, and it does break with the position of many of my fellow liberals, but I'd like to extend the hand of thanks to Rick Santorum and Rush Limbaugh.

Sen. Santorum, as a supporter of this president and someone who'd like to see him win a second term, I'd like to offer my warmest gratitude to you for your complete inability to stay on message.

Oh, I know that, with employment rising and other good economic news, the Republican platform of "everything sucks and it's all Obama's fault" becomes somewhat problematic. It's going to be hard to keep those moderates and independents on your side when you have to keep dismissing, mocking and trying to change the subject when there's any piece of good news. The Debbie Downer character from "Saturday Night Live" may be amusing, but I wouldn't pick her for my communications director.

 Nevertheless, economic gloom and doom is the message the Republican Party has chosen to embrace, and that's the one the candidates are expected to broadcast.

But you, Sen. Santorum - when it comes to any issue involving sex in general and contraception in particular, you're like my dog when he sees a squirrel on our morning walk. He knows he's not supposed to take off running full-tilt after it, but he just can't help himself.

Likewise, whenever the subject of contraception comes up, you may know, somewhere back in the recesses of your mind, that the issue is an electoral minefield, given that polls show three-quarters of American women have used the pill, only 8 percent of them think that birth control is morally wrong, and 89 percent of Catholic women - your own fellow religionists - not only have no problem with birth control, but favor expanding access to it for people who can't afford it. But you can't help but chase that squirrel, can you?

You can't keep from blurting out things like how contraception is "a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be," and that states should have the power to ban it, even for married couples.

Which brings us to Rush Limbaugh. Thank you, Mr. Limbaugh, for your recent comments regarding Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke.

When Republican House members refused to let any women testify at a hearing involving a rule that private insurance plans had to include contraception, the Democrats held their own hearing. Ms. Fluke was a witness.
She talked about the financial hardship some women suffered because the student health plan at her private university did not provide coverage for contraception and related how a friend who took the pill to control her agonizingly painful polycystic ovarian syndrome was denied coverage and suffered as a result.

So you, Mr. Limbaugh, then went off on a bizarre diatribe over three days about how Ms. Fluke was a "slut" and a "prostitute" who "wanted taxpayers to pay her to have sex," even though, again, this was a discussion of regulation of a privately funded insurance plan at a private university and had nothing to do with taxpayer funding.

Further, Ms. Fluke hadn't even talked about her sex life. Nevertheless, in one of the creepiest jokes ever heard on the American airwaves, you demanded that Fluke should videotape herself having sex and post it on the Internet so you, a 61-year-old man, could watch it.

Now, a lot of people have given you grief for that. As of this writing, 45 sponsors have pulled out of your show after a storm of Internet protests. There have been calls to take you off the taxpayer-funded Armed Forces Radio.

But I say, please continue. Keep disrespecting women with whom you disagree in the crudest possible fashion, while positioning yourself as the voice of American conservatism.

And Sen. Santorum, please stay in the race as the "conservative alternative," while uncontrollably spouting off a radical position on birth control that's sure to alienate the vast majority of female voters.

Because pretty much all of the women of voting age that I've talked to recently are as angry and energized as I've ever seen them over these issues. And they're not energized for your party.A recent AP poll showed the president's approval ratings up 10 percent among women since December, beating Romney 54 percent to 41 percent in this key demographic.

Thank you, fellows. And enjoy the second Obama term.