The Democrat's 'war on women' in Oregon
The continuing saga of Oregon Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby is illustrative of what Democrats do to women who threaten one of their incumbent.
Wehby's boyfriend problems two years ago have been splashed all over major media over the last few days in advance of the GOP primary on Tuesday. Wehby's timber magnate boyfriend, Andrew Miller, called 9/11 to report her harassing him and "stalking" him during a difficult break up. But Miller, who told police he would file an order of protection, never did. The two eventually parted as friends and Miller has donated to her campaign and is running an outside PAC, funding an attack on her more conservative opponent.
But how did the story surface in the first place? Apparently, Politico published the story first. How they got a hold of it is anyone's guess, but it is not beyond imagining that Democratic incumbent Senator Jeffr Merkley leaked the story. The day after Politico broke the story, The Oregonian released a tape of the 911 call from Miller.
Coming as it did less than 4 days before the pirimary is suspicious indeed - especially considering the ideological bent of The Oregonian. Politico's John Bresnahan is one of the most plugged in journalists in Washington and it wouldn't be hard for a campaign to slip word to him about a juicy, gossippy story about a Republican woman running for Senate.
But the provenance of the story is less important than the reason for leaking it.
The Daily Beast's Patricia Murphy:
The National Republican Senatorial Committee pushed back against the stories Friday afternoon, labeling the entire episode a Democratic effort to destroy Wehby ahead of Tuesday’s primary and accusing Democrats of waging a war on women of their own against Wehby.
“In this situation, the person who filed the police report admitted that they overreacted, that they were responsible, that he was responsible, and that the couple ended their relationship on an amicable note and remain friends to this day,” said Brad Dayspring, communications director for the NRSC. “The insinuation that a respected professional woman who has performed over 7,000 surgeries on children is somehow less of a professional or a candidate because of this kind of petty tabloid story is ridiculous.”
Dayspring also called the stalking story “a shining example of why talented, intelligent women often are reluctant to run for public office.”
Of course, feminist organization leaped to Wehby's defense, right?
But as salacious as the stalking angle to the story is, no national women’s groups have come to Wehby’s defense to call the story sexist or even unfair, including the National Organization for Women, which once criticized Newsweek for running an extreme close-up photo of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) on its cover. The Women’s Campaign Fund and Name It. Change It., a group founded to highlight examples of sexism in campaigns and campaign coverage, did not respond to a request for comment.
Jennifer Lawless, the director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University, said that at this point in political campaigns, just about anything in a person’s past is fair game, no matter the candidate’s gender.
“When you are heading into Election Day, to the extent that your opponent has any information that would lead voters to question your leadership, your competence, your integrity, or your empathy, it’s fair game,” she said. “And although this particular case makes Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction look particularly salient, if a male candidate had engaged in behavior that could potentially be used to make him look unstable, we’d be just as likely to see that in the news.”
No doubt that's true. But would feminist organizations take a back seat and remain silent if a Democratic woman was the target? The question isn't would we "see it in the news," the question is what kind of outcry would there be if the target had been a liberal Democrat?
Merkel may be innocent of leaking the story. But as a means to destroy a strong Republican woman running neck and neck in the polls with the incumbent, you couldn't find a better way to do it.