“I guess some women out there probably were wincing when they heard this,” Blitzer said of Huckabee’s comments.
CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger noted that the GOP has recommended its allies get “more aggressive” when combating attacks on them as waging a “war on women.” She added, however, that Huckabee’s remarks were probably “not what they had in mind.”
“It was really the word ‘libido,’” Bash said. “One of his friends actually told me afterword, somebody who’s a very big supporter, ‘Can you text him and say don’t use the word ‘libido’ anymore?’
Huckabee, saying that he has an “outspoken wife” and appointed more women in Arkansas than any other governor, told me: “If people read the actual words I said in context, everyone who wants to understand it will.”
Pressed today about his use of “libido,” Huckabee said by e-mail: “Women (like men) are sexual beings, but they are much more than that. To reduce either gender or any person to one aspect of their being is an unfair characterization. My point was to point out that Dems have put a laser like focus on government funded birth control and given it more attention than cancer drugs.”
As for the word, “never thought about every word parsed apart from the overall message, so not sure why that one word attracts such attention in the context of the statement. It adds color and as a communicator yourself, you probably try to write so as to create vivid pictures. Libido is a normal part of being human. Nothing scandalous about it. But without it, in either women or men, would there be a demand for birth control?”
“Gov. Huckabee has no reason to apologize and if anything the Democrats should be apologizing,” [Allen] West told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.
“[He] is right. Government is trying to be the sugar daddy. Government is trying to … replace having strong male role models together with women, strong women, to have strong families, and the left just got caught guilty as always.”…
“I’m going to be very blunt, the left tries to win the women’s vote by talking from the waist down. What we have to do on our side as conservatives … we have to talk to their heart and we have to talk to their mind and that’s exactly what Gov. Huckabee was talking about drawing that delineation.”
Spicer said that there is more media attention devoted to Republicans who make artless comments than Democrats. “I would caution, frankly, all of the rhetoric is probably not helpful in general, but there is a bit of a one-sided battle when it comes to how Republicans are viewed in the media,” he added.
Witt pressed Spicer again about whether the RNC should disavow Huckabee’s comments. “You can probably look through almost every speech and find something somebody said that probably could have been worded differently,” Spicer replied.
“Look at your own network, frankly, Alex,” he added. “Martin Bashir, Alec Baldwin, Melissa Harris-Perry — this is not something held entirely to the Republican Party.”
“Your own network has problems with communicating itself,” Spicer concluded.
Unless they’re willing to walk away from their conservative or libertarian traditions, Republicans ought to view with deep suspicion any form of political speech that encourages people to conform their thoughts and emotions to the patterns established by the propaganda of crisis. Yet when Republicans are accused of prosecuting a war on women, their instinct is to fight fire with fire…
What, as a human, do you want your relationship with your government to be? It’s a simple question. It’s an open one. And once the conversation starts, the ideological talking points and the lame excuses start falling away. It’s already started to happen, in fact, with pot and gay marriage. The reason why there’s so much movement on those issues isn’t because the partisans of the cult of progress have their opponents on the run. It’s because, on a human level, growing numbers of people are determining that, on those issues, they don’t want their government taking a paternalistic or maternalistic approach to their lives. Pot and marriage are two areas where mobilizing fear around health and safety isn’t really working. So why is health care an area where health-and-safety fearmongering is working for propagandists of crisis? Why are troops so easily mobilized in wars around women?
The answer to those questions would seem to involve a lot of personal fears held by a lot of people. Imagine what might happen if Republicans took an approach to real fears and fake wars that invited everyone to lay down not only their arms but their fears. I suppose Mike Huckabee might be groping toward the claim that too many progressives rely on voters’ fearful sense that their lives will be ruined unless they have a relationship of dependence on the government. If that’s anywhere close to the mark, though, Republicans really have to alter the way they think about inspiring people to explore the ways in which they don’t have to be afraid. And the first order of business in that transformation is to object conscientiously to the rhetoric of pretend wars. Unlike pretend wars, politics — at its best, anyway — helps gives people room to rediscover how they can become what they dream in freedom.
The creepy, condescending-uncle image, the retrograde attitude toward sex: Huckabee managed to illustrate exactly the phenomenon he was trying to decry, the perception that Republicans don’t know how to talk to or about women. Democrats were gleeful. Within hours, liberal groups had bombarded reporters with outraged statements, the White House press secretary had called the remark “offensive,” and MSNBC was playing the clip over and over (chyron: “HUCKED UP”). “If this is the GOP rebrand a year later, then all they’ve gotten is a year older,” gloated the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz…
But while Democrats fixate on what they consider the GOP’s failed makeover, Republicans have moved on. The delegates at Thursday’s RNC meeting weren’t brooding over the party’s lack of reorientation. They were getting upbeat briefings about how far the party has come in the past year and how bright the future looks. As Massachusetts Republican committeeman Ron Kaufman told me, the time for “painful self-examination” has passed. “Now we’re implementing it, and it’s going to pay off. Everything couldn’t be better right now for us.”…
Enough progress has been made, and enough breaks have gone their way, that Republicans feel good about their chances. “That doesn’t mean somebody isn’t going to stick their foot in their mouth from time to time,” Barbour said—like Huckabee did on Thursday. But for 2014 and 2016, he had this to say: “Bring it on.”