LOPEZ: Who are the “Obama Defectors,” and can he win them?
OBENSHAIN: The Obama Defectors were those who supported Obama in 2008 but then abandoned him in the 2010 midterm elections. Obama, for example, captured 56 percent of female voters in 2008, but two years later, Republicans won among women for the first time since 1982. That was a significant shift. The economy was of utmost importance to the defectors, but close behind was the ability to unite people across party lines. Obama had promised that this would be his great strength; yet in 2010 many women were disillusioned toward the president. He had not delivered on hope and change.
Obama’s team is well aware of the polling numbers, and why they lost women voters. They also know that they cannot win them back on the economy, nor can they on unity or “hope and change.” So the division has been ratcheted up. Republicans, the steady drumbeat goes, despise women, want to take away their birth control, and have launched an all-out “war on women.” Though seemingly transparent and cynical, the “master of agitation” knows how to distract from the realities that don’t work to his favor, and how to shut down his opposition. In other words, yes, he can win them. The other side needs to be aware of what he’s doing, and counter it with the facts.
LOPEZ: Is it fair to say Obama has failed women? He stopped House Republicans from defunding Planned Parenthood! He curbed religious freedom for contraception, abortion-drug, and sterilization coverage!
OBENSHAIN: Right. My point exactly. He’s failed women. Abysmally. To Obama, women’s issues run the gamut from A (abortion) to B (birth control) — a rather limited view of women and their interests, but it speaks volumes about this administration.
Women are experiencing the highest poverty rate in 17 years. Of households led by women, 40 percent of them are living in poverty — 40 percent! Women are not getting jobs lost due to the recession back at the rate of men. They are hit particularly hard by gas prices that have doubled under Obama, food-price spikes, and Obamacare costs that are being implemented — such as the “medicine-cabinet tax” and upcoming limits on what individuals can put in their flex-spending accounts.
The patronizing of women that Obama employs — from his White House’s being an acknowledged “good ol’ boy” club, to “The Life of Julia,” to Stephanie Cutter’s suggesting women aren’t concerned about the last four years — is mind-blowing. He gives them a pat on the head and raises issues he sees as involving them when he can use them to his political advantage to divide the public and distract from his economic record.
The other failure would be this president’s refusal to defend conservative women from vicious misogynist speech. Not only does he refuse to defend them, but he takes money, lots of it, from some of the most flagrant offenders. When the president injects himself when women who share his ideology are attacked, but ignores the far more offensive attacks on women who don’t, he implicitly condones those attacks, and makes them acceptable forms of public discord. That tells women they are worthy only of defense if they walk in lockstep with President Obama. And it tells those who would attack conservative women, to divide them from other women and attempt to marginalize them, “Have at it.”