Obama's Own War on WomenBy Edward Olshaker
Is there really a war on women, and if so, who is waging it? Perhaps we can begin to learn the answer from a tale of two congressmen:
October 26, 2009 - The story breaks that Rep. Alan Grayson called a female adviser to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke a whore. Although the slur earns him praise in the progressive media, prominent Democratic colleagues -- including Steny Hoyer and Anthony Weiner -- join Republicans in condemning his remark.
In dramatic contrast, President Obama reacts by fundraising for Grayson in Florida the next day. With Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Kendrick Meek also present, Obama praises Grayson: "We owe you one, buddy[.] ... This is a guy who doesn't back away from a fight, and doesn't back down from what he believes in."
August 19, 2012 - Rep. Todd Akin discusses the odds of conception after rape in a way that is ignorant and offensive, but not malicious. Mitt Romney and other top GOP leaders condemn Akin's remarks as inexcusable and call for him to drop out of the race. Yet, in a truly Orwellian twisting of the story, the media ties the scandal to Romney, aiding the Obama campaign's effort to do the same. On August 20, ABC News reports that the Obama team is "using [Akin's] words to go after Mitt Romney and his running mate."
The Obama campaign decrees -- and the media obediently repeats -- what constitutes a controversy. Thus, while no Obama controversies are part of mainstream media's campaign coverage (try to name one), several hover over Romney, including offshore accounts, Bain Capital's alleged evils, and what CBS News reported as "the controversy over Romney's secrecy about his taxes." And now the newly fabricated issue of alleged insensitivity to the plight of rape victims by the party Romney leads. But if this campaign is to be about rape, voters deserve to learn why rape victim Desiree Washington is infinitely more relevant to this election than insult victim Sandra Fluke.
As Barack Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright were helping organize the 1995 Million Man March that would elevate Rev. Louis Farrakhan to the pinnacle of visibility among black leadership, many African-Americans, especially women, were appalled. In addition to Farrakhan's threatening to murder a reporter, praising Hitler as a "a very great man," forming an alliance with the Ku Klux Klan, and labeling Jews "bloodsuckers" two days before the march, he had also mocked the traumatized the young woman boxer Mike Tyson was convicted of raping. An article about the planned march described women's outrage, of which Obama was surely aware:
The empowerment of Farrakhan by Obama and others who joined him was another punch to the gut for an already devastated young woman. And Obama cannot deny that what he did in 1995 matters in this campaign -- not after insisting that Romney's record at Bain Capital during the 1990s is "what this campaign is going to be about."
A rare follow-up article about Desiree Washington (in 1995, the year of Farrakhan's march) described a shattered victim:
Meanwhile, Farrakhan drew continued adulation and acclaim, including receiving the Jeremiah A. Wright Trumpeter award, because he "truly epitomized greatness."
Perhaps inspired by Farrakhan's example, Rev. Wright mocked Natalee Holloway -- the teenager presumed dead after disappearing in Aruba -- as a slut in August 2005. Nevertheless, Wright was featured on the Obama for President website as a distinguished endorser until March 2008, when he began to turn into a liability.
Fast-forward to 2012: Obama calls Sandra Fluke, the activist sexually denigrated by Rush Limbaugh, explaining in a news conference: "I thought about Malia and Sasha...I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way, and I don't want them attacked or called horrible names because they're being good citizens."
But who believes that Obama -- after displaying callous indifference to the vulgar ridicule of a rape victim and an apparent murder victim by his allies -- really cares about young women being free to speak their minds without being slandered? David Axelrod, for one, doesn't believe it, and thus felt free to publicly call Miss California Carrie Prejean a dog after she hesitantly answered a pageant question on same-sex marriage, prefacing her answer by saying she respects all views. Axelrod knew that Obama would not condemn the slur or even mildly reprimand him, or call Prejean to offer encouragement and empathy.
From his presidential campaign until today, Obama's reaction to supporters' misogynistic assaults has been either to silently assent or actively signal his support. While his mildly sexist remark about Hillary Clinton's claws coming out was barely noteworthy, what was noteworthy was how his supporters -- including members of the media -- pitched in to help with debasing vitriol, including Dana Milbank of the Washington Post calling Sen. Clinton a "mad bitch" and syndicated radio host Randi Rhodes labeling Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro "f---ing whores."
Although they didn't realize it at the time, they were just getting warmed up for the onslaught on Sarah Palin. As Bill Maher continues to attack Palin with the vilest language that can be used against a woman, an Obama super-PAC gladly keeps his million-dollar donation, while the president approves, knowing the mainstream media would never report a story that might damage his significant lead with female voters.
Vulgar insults of Palin and her daughters never stop, and Obama never stops signaling his approval. In 2009, shortly after David Letterman joked that Palin's 14-year-old daughter got impregnated by Alex Rodriguez and labeled Palin "slutty," Obama appeared as Letterman's guest for a full hour, the first sitting president to appear on the show.
To quote Obama, "rape is rape," and that includes statutory rape. Todd Palin said at the time, "any 'jokes' about raping my 14-year-old are despicable." If Letterman had told the same joke about Malia Obama and called the First Lady "slutty," would Obama appear on the show? Would Michelle? Would Letterman even still be on the air?
Not to be outdone, talk show host Jimmy Fallon's band demeaned guest Michele Bachmann as a "Lyin' Ass Bitch." Continuing a pattern that has become predictable, it wasn't long before Obama appeared on the show. Fallon later revealed a little surprise about how the leader of the free world ended up on a very late-night, small-audience show: "The president booked himself on our show."
In the same spirit, the Obamas invited the rapper Common -- famous for lyrics that incite violence against women and white people -- to perform at the White House. Yet in the upcoming debates, while Romney might be interrogated about a remark he condemned, there is no chance Obama will be challenged about his administration's needlessly polarizing promotion of the depraved literary work he sent his press secretary to defend.
Astoundingly, this is the same man who, as a presidential candidate on the day of the Virginia Tech massacre, first unveiled his Civility Lecturer-in-Chief act when he raised an issue that surely occurred to no one else mere hours after 32 people were killed:
Like all the other women and girls targeted by the crude verbal violence of prominent Obama allies and surrogates, Desiree Washington is also a daughter; and, as Obama said of the Rutgers female athletes, is "someone who looks like" Malia and Sasha (although her skin color is irrelevant). The upcoming debates will undoubtedly place heavy emphasis on the fabricated "war on women," because it's a narrative that is helping Obama (and it would not be surprising if Sandra Fluke is seated alongside Michelle Obama in the front row). Perhaps in one of the debates, Romney, a well-prepared debater who has sprung occasional surprises on his less-prepared opponents, will challenge Obama on why he joined forces with the tormentor of a traumatized, forsaken rape victim.
As part of their effort to convince female voters that Romney's candidacy makes this "a scary time for women," the Obama campaign recently sent out a fundraising e-mail from Fluke entitled "Legitimate Rape," continuing to link Romney to a remark he deplored. So let this campaign be about rape. The stomach-turning scene of Farrakhan vilifying Ms. Washington appears in a documentary -- a media critic said "the footage is devastating" -- and needs to be shown in campaign ads so that voters can decide whether a politician who then helped empower Farrakhan, causing profound distress to women in the black community, is sensitive to women's concerns and has the judgment to be president.
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