The most striking thing about the video above is how brief it is. Typically, a two-minute-plus political ad, even when it's a web video, is thought to be too long. When its score is a grating, hokey brand of Muzak that feels reminiscent of 1980s public-service announcements, that doesn't help, either. But still, if Republicans are going to brag about their Congresswomen and use them as attempt to win back women voters, you'd hope they'd be able to produce a longer video -- especially since, by these standards, a video of Democratic women would be more than twice as long.
The brand-new Women's Policy Committee that House Republicans have formed released this yesterday, ostensibly, because they're proud of the only 24 women in their 242-member majority caucus. According to a press release, Republicans created this "with the goal of raising the profile of GOP women in their roles as lawmakers, highlighting their diverse achievements and providing a unique, unified voice on a wide range of critically important issues." Interesting that that is the goal, given that not one of them notes any of their actual achievements in Congress. So why are they really doing this?
We hear a lot in the video about how many of them are mothers, grandmothers, farmers, the first to do this and that, and how they're fighting, as Rep. Virginia Foxx, said, "to get the government off your back, and out of your checkbook." How about out of your bedroom, or out of your uterus?
I'll bet that these 24 Republican women understand precisely why they're suddenly forming a Women's Policy Committee to spotlight themselves and their talking-points principles, but they're do so without being fully honest about why. They might have gotten away with it, if it weren't for those meddling facts -- some of which Steve Benen pointed to yesterday on The Maddow Blog:
The "war on women" didn't catch on as a national phenomenon because GOP officials are invariably men; it caught on after Republicans in Virginia decided to mandate medically-unnecessary, trans-vaginal ultrasounds for women who want to undergo a legal medical procedure...
And in nearly all relevant instances, every member of this new Women's Policy Committee voted with their far-right, male counterparts.
On last night's edition of "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" (embedded at right), guest host Martin Bashir had what I felt was the perfect description for this new Women's Policy Committee effort: "cosmetic." Melissa added to that as his guest last night, making the point that this is the kind of "base-level identity politics" that the GOP has said that they don't agree with, and that:
Not only don't they support sort of a progressive agenda on, for example, equal pay or reproductive rights, but even on the base-level identity politics, when Republican women had the "year of the GOP woman" in 2010, we actually lost seats for women for the first time since the 1970s.
And at the risk of repeating the obvious, Republicans not only seek to maintain a slippery grip on their majority in the House; they want the White House, too. And Mitt Romney, who took heat on his lady issues from the Vice President yesterday, is not making up his massive deficit amongst women voters, according to yesterday's NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, trailing President Obama 53% to 38%.
So real talk, Republicans: no one will hate on you for wanting to spotlight gender diversity within your ranks, limited as it may be. Just be honest about why you're doing it, why you're so desperate to do it, and then understand that even that's not enough when your regressive policies speak even louder than your '80s public-service-announcement Muzak.
Postscript: Not all of the women voting this fall are mothers and grandmothers; Republicans will have to win over young women voting for the first time, also. Melissa hosted an incredible panel of three such young women this past Sunday: Leslie Cardona of Young Women Creating Change, Emily Carpenter of Girls for Gender Equity, and feminist blogger and author Julie Zeilinger, all whom are pictured below after making their television debuts on our show. Click below the jump to see their conversation, which later included Salamishah Tillet, University of Pennsylvania professor, Nation writer, and co-founder of A Long Walk Home, Inc.
Melissa Harris-Perry outlines the evolution of feminism - that does not include burning bras - and as it turns to the modern-day so-called "war on women," Harris-Perry invites Emily Carpenter from Girls for Gender Equality, Leslie Cardona of Young Women Creating Change, and Barnard College undergraduate Julie Zeilinger to her show to discuss the next generation of women's issues.
Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel of young women are joined by University of Pennsylvania professor Salamishah Tillet, as they continue their conversation on how feminism is taking different forms in 2012.