Warren Blumenfeld thinks Rand Paul’s attacks on Bill Clinton are hypocritical.
Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, in his ridiculous attempt to deny and deflect increasing charges of a Republican Party war on women, has taken the tactic of the political turn-around offensive. Apparently, Paul recently visited the burial grounds of dead political scandals by dredging up the remains of the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair of 1998.
Speaking recently at a press conference, Paul demanded that any Democrat who raised campaign funds with help from former President Clinton should return the money to donors to protest Clinton’s sexual actions while in the White House. Earlier, Paul described Clinton as a “sexual predator.”
“If they want to take a position on women’s rights, by all means do. But you can’t do it and take it from a guy who was using his position of authority to take advantage of young women in the workplace,” said Paul.
In truth, Clinton joins a long list of politicians who, either by not using the head above their shoulders or by thinking with their other head, one can definitely argue that they have abused the power of their office and the trust of the public. The list includes, among many many others: Thomas Jefferson, Grover Cleveland, Franklin Roosevelt, the “Johns” (Fitzgerald Kennedy, Edwards, and Ensign), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Weiner, Newt Gingrich, Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy, Senators Gary Hart and David Vitter, Governors Mark Sanford and Eliot Spitzer, Mayors Antonio Villaraigosa and Bob Filner. And we certainly can’t forget the open-mouth-and-insert-footers of Representative Todd Aiken, U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
As offensive and abusive the words and actions of these men may have been, however, these individual instances do not constitute a political party’s war on women. To determine this, we must investigate a party’s overall public policy directives and laws supported.
On one side of the political aisle, through the dynamic leadership of then-Senator Joe Biden, Congress passed the 1996 Violence against Women Act, and the Democrats worked diligently for its reauthorization in 2013. In addition, the Democrats have pushed to eliminate the pay equity gap between men and women in the workplace as highlighted in President Obama’s recent State of the Union address. In fact, President Obama signed as his first piece of legislation the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009. Earlier, while Congress debated passing similar legislation under the George W. Bush administration, the President publicly opposed it, and it languished in Congress.
On the other hand, the concerted effort primarily by Republican national and state legislators has severely restricted women’s reproductive health care options across the country. For example, in Texas, Governor Rick Perry signed into law a ban on abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy. The law also mandates women’s clinics to upgrade their ambulatory surgical centers, it increases restrictions on the use of the abortion-inducing drug RU-486, and it requires all doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges. This latter requirement stands as the cornerstone of a new Alabama law, which opponents view as a measure to eventually restrict all abortions in the state. And who can forget about the Virginia law that forces women seeking abortions to undergo transabdominal ultrasound procedures at least 24 hours before an abortion. The original version of the bill included the even more extreme invasive procedure of trans-vaginal probes.
State legislatures and Governors, primarily led and enacted by Republican majorities, passed 92 abortion restrictions in 2011 alone, and in 2012, 43 restrictions in 19 states.
While the landmark 1965 Griswald v. Connecticut Supreme Court decision invalidated a Connecticut law that restricted the purchase and use of contraceptive devises, Republicans have proposed, and fortunately, the majority Democratic Senate recently rejected an effort to permit employers and health insurance companies the decision to refuse coverage for contraceptives. Actually, the Supreme Court has scheduled to hear a case advanced by the leaders of the national corporation, Hobby Lobby, to circumvent providing employees with insurance coverage for contraception.
Throughout history, examples abound of male domination over the rights and lives of women. Men denied women the vote until women fought hard and demanded the right of political enfranchisement; strictly enforced gender-based social roles mandated without choice that women’s primary option was to remain in the home and not compete with men for jobs; women were and remain by far the primary target of harassment, abuse, physical assault, and rape by men; women were and often remain locked out of many professions; rules once required that women teachers relinquish their jobs after marriage; in fact, the institution of marriage itself was structured on a foundation of male domination with men serving as the so-called “head of the household” and maintaining sole ownership of all property, thereby taking away these rights from women.
In other words, women have been and often remain constructed as second-class and even third-class citizens, but certainly not as victims, because through it all, women as a group have challenged the inequities and have pushed back against patriarchal constraints.
So, is there a Republican Party, a political right wing, war on women? I find it quite obvious. I see a war on women to control their bodies, which is nothing less than the attempt to control, to colonize, women’s minds and their very lives for the purpose of maintaining patriarchal domination.
So, Rand Paul, talk all you want about Bill Clinton. Deny and reject all you want about an attack of women’s rights by your party. The facts, Mr. Paul, however, speak for themselves.
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