In 2012 Republicans nominated a presidential candidate who had blatantly violated Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment.
You know it: Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.
As mentioned yesterday and many times previously, Mitt Romney found that he only people he could speak ill about were his fellow Republicans. No wonder so many of them did not show up to vote for him.
When Republicans noticed the falloff in votes from its base, it decided to alienate it even more by supporting immigration reform. Even after Nate Silver explained that Romney would have had to receive over 70% of the Hispanic vote to tie Barack Obama, Congressional Republicans seemed convinced that the solution to their electoral problems was to win more Hispanic voters.
Since Republicans have not quite grasped their Eleventh Commandment, it is risky to add a twelfth, but still.
The Twelfth Commandment: Thou shalt never, ever talk about sex.
Whenever a Republican ventures forth into that uncharted territory, it comes back to haunt him. Part of the problem is sounding anti-women. The larger part of the problem is sounding like an ignoramous.
Take Todd Akin, Senate candidate from Missouri, who lost a highly winnable election he because chose one day to offer his views about “legitimate rape.”
As I mentioned at the time, many candidates have been successful running on a pro-life platform, even a modified pro-life platform, but no one ever succeeds by running on stupid.
Seeing the damage that the remark did to Akin’s candidacy, Indiana senate candidate Richard Mourdock echoed it in the course of his own election campaign and lost a senate seat that had been his for the taking.
Mourdock doubled down on stupid. Is there a lesson there?
Today’s Republicans are more intelligent about their comments, but still, they should know by now that they should, never, ever talk about sex.
Witness presumptive presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. At a meeting of the Republican National Committee Huckabee threw down the gauntlet:
If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.
Strictly speaking, Huckabee was attributing thoughts to Democrats. He said that Democrats had promoted policies that were based on the supposition that women could not control their libido or their reproductive system without the government’s help.
Unfortunately, no one heard it that way. Huckabee’s effort to stand up for women’s freedom looked to just about everyone like Republican meddling in women’s reproductive choices. After all, if Huckabee wants government out of the reproduction business, one imagines that he would be opposed to most restrictions of abortion.
Quite frankly, politicians should not be opining about anyone’s libido. Period. End of story. It’s a losing game. Women do not want their libidinous urges to be part of the political dialogue.
And then there was Rand Paul.
Last week, looking for a wedge issue against Hillary Clinton, Paul declared that her husband, former president Bill “Horndog” Clinton was a sexual predator. You recall, Bill Clinton had a dangerous liaison with an intern named Monica Lewinsky.
For his pains Rand Paul was slapped down by Wall Street Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz.
In her words:
A striking argument, that, considering the nature of the charges Mr. Paul was making. Namely, that Bill Clinton had "taken advantage of a young woman in the workplace," a charges he repeated three times with some variations: The victim was "a young girl" that was "20 years old" and an "intern." "Bosses," the senator summarized, "shouldn't prey on young interns."
When the matter of bosses taking advantage of young women—preying on them—comes up, most of rational society understands the action involved. The women are threatened, implicitly or explicitly, with loss of their jobs, or chased around the office, or pursued with offers of dinner, pleas for assignations, told suggestive jokes.
Mr. Paul, perhaps busily immersed in his Ayn Rand studies in the 90's, may not have noticed who was chasing whom during the Clinton intern scandal. He seems not to know today that his picture—that of a hapless young girl of 20, victimized, honor despoiled by her boss, the president, preying on her—bears no resemblance to reality.
The starry-eyed Monica Lewinsky had made no secret of her determination to get to the head of the rope line to make herself and her availability known to the president at every one of his public appearances she could get to. She worked hard getting to him. She lost no chance to make it clear that she was ready and willing to offer sexual service to him at any time.
Rabinowitz finds it all to be rather discouraging. She sees it as a bad omen for a potential Paul candidacy:
Mr. Paul's conversion of these facts into a story of innocence betrayed by Mr. Clinton doesn't bode well for a national candidate who is, we keep hearing, a savvy politician careful not to sound extreme—sound like his father, Ron Paul, that is—or make mistakes. Flailing away now at Mr. Clinton's disgraceful past, and in the way that he has, suggests a serious kind of tone deafness in this likely candidate for the Republican nomination—a kind that has always been there under the spiffed up surface, and one likely to emerge again.
Had Rand Paul been willing to mention Juanita Broadderick, it might have been another story, but, even then, the Clinton sexcapades are by now common knowledge. No one wants to revisit them. No one wants to have to think about them again. If you bring them up the public will blame you for forcing it to think about things it does not want to think about.
Good Republicans should ask themselves how that one worked out the first time. They might have impeached Bill Clinton, but it was, at the least, a Pyrrhic victory.
Today, the nation lionizes the horndog president, to the point where it seems poised to put his enabling wife in the White House.
Does that look to you like a winning issue?
So, Republicans should start respecting the Twelfth Commandment:
Thou shalt never, ever talk about sex.