As always, we are here to bring you the burning questions of the day that nobody else is asking. Today's question: What will we call the 2012 women?
Now, no disrespect is meant by asking this question. The article title refers to a "snappy label" and not "snappy women," just to be clear. We are merely humbly pointing out the coming convergence of two political themes in the days leading up to the election. The first of these is the fact that women seem to be emerging as the ultimate swing group of voters this year, since the polls have shown more movement among their demographic than any other. The second is the media's childlike fascination with slapping a catchy label on the demographic they deem most critical in pretty much every presidential election in recent memory. Perhaps this has been going on since the beginning of time, but the earliest one that springs to mind was "Reagan Democrats," which was admittedly pretty broad. In the 1990s, things became more specific, with the "soccer moms." Then we got the "NASCAR dads," so hubby wouldn't feel left out (we suppose... it's hard to tell...). Next up was "security moms," putting the ball back on the women's side of the net.
Last election didn't really have a comfortable "mom/dad" demographic on either side, at least that I can remember (I might have missed the memo, I fully admit). We had "Joe the Plumber" for McCain, but he was really just one guy. Obama was pushed over the top by "first-time voters," which is pretty generic, we have to say. Some broke this down into two groups: the "youth vote," which got away from the whole mom/dad thing and gave the kids a chance in the spotlight, and "single moms," which got us right back into mom territory. Neither subgroup was deemed as important as first-time voters (or "new voters"), but we have to say that 2008 was somewhat of a disappointment, demographic-marketing-wise.
Which is why we aim to correct this lack by throwing the question open to our inventive readers. What do you think the women voters of 2012 will be called by the media? While pretty much all the other demographics are fairly locked up and stable right now, the polls have shown that women are the most persuadable in the final weeks of the 2012 campaign. Barack Obama had an overwhelming advantage among women, riding the success of the "War On Women" theme from earlier in the year. However, when Obama failed to mention women at all in his first debate, Mitt Romney got a huge boost and has (by some reports) pulled even with Obama among women.
So women may be the spotlighted demographic on election night. Single women, in particular, seem to be mentioned most often in these polling reports. So, the question remains: What snappy label can we come up with for this all-important demographic in the 2012 election? Of course, this could change depending on who wins, so more than one answer may in fact be needed. If Romney wins, what will the swing group of women that propels him to victory be called, on election night and far into the future? If Obama regains his standing and pulls ahead because he convinces women to vote for him, what will the media decide to call the women who made it happen?
I must admit I don't have any bright and spontaneous ideas. Spin off the "War On Women" and call them "Women Warriors"? Um, that just brings up an image of Xena to me, so perhaps not. "Planned Parenthood Women" seems a little too specific and also seems too long to qualify as a catchy phrase (a catchy catchphrase?). Sorry, folks, I'm at a loss -- which is why I'm opening the suggestion box to everyone.
It may seem trivial to ask for suggestions for a snappy media moniker, but then again if you post a comment so brilliant that everyone notices, then perhaps the mainstream media will decide to run with it, who knows? Put your thinking caps on, and coin the "key demographic" phrase of the year! Beat the media at their own game!
[Note: We would run this as a full-blown contest, but we've already run our "Call The 2012 Election" contest this week, and we felt that two would just be too much for one week. If you're an uberwonk and are frustrated because everyone else is wrong in their election predictions, we heartily encourage you to take our "Call The 2012 Election" challenge.]
As with last week, choosing the winner of the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award was pretty easy this week.
Barack Obama's second debate performance on Tuesday night was one whale of a lot more impressive than his first attempt. The president had certainly done his debate prep this time around, and he gave as good as he got. One wonders if, in the near future, we'll be having "ultimate cage match fights" instead of debates to select our presidents, after seeing the direction presidential debating seems to be headed. It's a cable news world these days, and we've now seen two of the first made-for-cable debates (Biden, and Obama this week) in American history. The trend is obvious, for those that can see it, and sparks will doubtlessly fly once again next Monday evening.
Obama is said to disdain Romney, but this isn't really true. Obama disdains the nitty-gritty of politics. You can tell he really isn't the most comfortable candidate in a debate setting. But he overcame this reluctance Monday and turned in a wowzer of a performance, complete with smackdown lines, humor, and the all-important humanizing stories.
For such a stellar performance on stage with Mitt Romney this week, there truly is no other candidate for Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this time around. Obama owned the week, and rightfully so. Let's have another debate like the last one on Monday, Mister President, how does that sound?
[Congratulate President Barack Obama on his White House contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]
In little-noticed news this week, a court case is being heard that challenges the fundamental federal position on marijuana. The group suing the feds is arguing that marijuana should be considered a "Schedule II" dangerous controlled substance, while the feds maintain it should stay as "Schedule I." The only difference between the two is whether the drug has an accepted medical use or not. Got all that? There are more details, but that's the heart of the matter: whether marijuana has medical uses or not.
The strongest argument for medical use is the fact that more than one-third of the United States have approved marijuana's medical use at the state level (most by voter initiative). There is no defensible argument to be made on the federal government's side, in the face of that fact.
But the Justice Department is trying to square the circle. They are arguing that there simply aren't enough properly-run scientific peer-reviewed studies of marijuana's use as a beneficial medicine to prove that marijuana has accepted medical uses. The problem -- the indefensible part -- is that to run one of these proper scientific studies, you need the permission of the federal government before you begin. Marijuana is, after all, illegal, and so any legitimate scientific study has to get permission to administer an illegal substance. However, the process for getting such approval is not only long, difficult, and convoluted, even when a research team attempts to jump over the multiple hurdles set in their path by the feds, approval is almost never forthcoming.
This leaves the Justice Department lawyers to argue the following in court: There are not enough proper scientific studies to determine that marijuana is a valid medicine, and we are not going to allow proper scientific studies to take place, because we are afraid of what they will prove.
For wasting American tax dollars on such "Alice In Wonderland" legal reasoning, we hereby award the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week to the man at the helm, Attorney General Eric Holder. Stop fighting Nancy Reagan's Drug War, and let's all enter the 21st century, shall we?
[Contact the boss of Attorney General Eric Holder on the White House contact page, to let the Obama administration know what you think of their actions.]
Volume 231 (10/19/12)
I had planned to dissect Obama's debate performance today, and highlight the best parts of it, but then I noticed the speech Obama gave this morning, in which he hit the same points even harder. So we're going to use our talking points section this week to excerpt the speech President Obama gave in Virginia this morning. These are the themes for Obama's home stretch, which he'll be hitting right up to the election.
The transcript of the speech is available on the White House website, or you can watch the video of it to see Obama's presentation. I've edited these by removing all the "(Applause)" and "(Laughter)" notations, as well as a few call-and-response lines where the audience boos, Obama stops and interjects "Don't boo..." and the audience yells back "...VOTE!" While it's a good line if you're there in person, these are a distraction when reading a transcript.
Romney's one-point plan
This was a big line during the debate, and we'll be hearing it often from now on.
He wants you to believe that somehow he'll create 12 million jobs, cut taxes by $5 trillion, even though it favors the wealthiest Americans. None of this will add to the deficit.
When folks who don't actually work for Governor Romney start crunching the numbers, it turns out the tax plan doesn't add up, jobs plan doesn't create jobs, deficit plan doesn't reduce the deficit. An economist at the New York Times put it this morning, "There's no jobs plan -- there's just a snow job on the American people." A snow job.
Virginia, you've heard of the New Deal, you've heard of the Square Deal, the Fair Deal. Mitt Romney is trying to give you a Sketchy Deal. A sketchy deal.
And it's really just a one-point plan, not a five-point plan. One point -- folks at the very top play by a different set of rules than all of you.
He refuses to say
Romney has inexplicably been trying to have things both ways on equal pay for women. Obama has pounced on this, as well he should. Note, at the end, a brilliant tactic Obama unveiled in the debate -- "It's not a women's issue, it's a family issue, it's an economic issue." That is an excellent talking point, right there.
He may not have noticed, we're in the 21st century. And in the 21st century, a woman deserves equal pay for equal work. This should be a no-brainer. But no matter how many times Governor Romney is asked whether or not he supports a law upholding that idea, he refuses to say. Why should this be hard? Are you for equal pay for equal work? Are you for making sure that laws enforce that basic principle?
He can't tell you. I can. I support that law. In fact, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first law that I signed into office. And this isn't just a women's issue. No man should want his wife, or his daughters paid less than a man for doing the same job. This is a family issue. This is an economic issue. It's one that we've got to fight for.
The only person who should decide is you
Continuing this line, Obama says something I've been waiting for Democrats to say for a long time: Republicans are now the ones trying to put politicians between a woman and her doctor. Hit this hard, since you get to use a Republican talking point against them. It's petard-hoisting time, folks.
When Governor Romney said he'd have supported an extreme measure in Massachusetts that could have outlawed some forms of contraception, when he joined the far right of his party to support a bill that would have allowed any employer to deny contraceptive care to their employees... What he didn't get is that making sure your insurance policy covers contraceptive care is an economic issue also.
I don't think your boss should decide what's best for your health and safety. I don't think your insurance company gets to decide what care you should get. And I sure don't think any politician should decide. The only person who should decide about your health care is you.
And, by the way, that's why we fought so hard to pass health care reform, a.k.a. Obamacare. That's why we pushed for it.
This has also been a long time coming. Don't apologize for Obamacare, stand up for it! Tell us why it's a good thing. Tell us the good that it's already done. Tell us the good things that will go away if Mitt Romney is elected.
This law has secured new access to preventive care like mammograms and other cancer screenings for more than 20 million women, with no co-pay, no deductible, no out-of-pocket cost, because I do not believe a working mother should have to put off a mammogram just because money is tight.
This law means that most health plans are now beginning to cover the cost of contraceptive care because I don't think a college student in Charlottesville or Blacksburg or Fairfax should have to choose between textbooks or the preventive care that she needs.
And, by the way for all the young people out here, Obamacare has already allowed nearly 7 million young adults under the age of 26 to sign up to stay on their parent's plans.
For all those who are young at heart but not young in years, it's already saved millions of seniors on Medicare hundreds of dollars on their prescription medicine.
Insurance companies can no longer put lifetime limits on your care or discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions. And soon, they'll no longer be able to charge women more for the same care just because they're women. That's what change looks like.
Binders full of women
If we're fighting for women, don't forget the Supreme Court. Obama has reason to brag, here. And since we're on the subject, might as well toss in the "binders full of women," just for a laugh.
I know he's called him severely -- he's called himself "severely conservative," but there's nothing conservative about a government that prevents a woman from making her own health care decisions.
He talks about freedom, but freedom is the ability to choose the care you need when you need it. Freedom is the ability to change jobs or start your own business without the fear of losing your health insurance. Freedom is the knowledge that you'll no longer be charged more than men for the same health care, or denied affordable coverage just because you beat cancer.
When the next president and Congress could tip the balance of the highest court in the land in a way that turns back the clock for women and families for decades to come, you don't want someone who needs to ask for binders of women. You don't want that guy. You want a president who has already appointed two unbelievable women to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Defending the record
This was a refrain of one of the strongest portions of the earlier debate. Barack Obama is finally standing up and saying, "this is what I've done." It's a pretty impressive list, and I've never heard the case made stronger than the president made it today.
Four years ago, I told you we'd end the war in Iraq, and we did. I said we'd end the war in Afghanistan -- we are. I said we'd refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have. Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat. Osama bin Laden is dead.
Four years ago, I promised to cut taxes for middle-class families, and I have. I promised to cut taxes for small business owners -- we have, 18 times.
We got every dime back from the banks that we used to rescue those banks. We passed laws to end taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts for good.
We repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," to make sure that nobody who wants to serve our country gets kicked out because of who they love.
When Governor Romney said we'd let -- he'd let Detroit go bankrupt, we said, we're not going to take your advice. We reinvented a dying auto industry that's come roaring back to the top of the world.
Four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetime, we're moving. After losing 800,000 jobs a month when I took office, businesses have now added over 5 million new jobs. Unemployment has fallen from 10 percent to 7.8 percent. Home values are back on the rise. The stock market has nearly doubled -- 401(k)s are starting to recover. Manufacturing is coming home. Assembly lines are humming again. We've got to keep moving forward. We've got to keep moving forward.
Of course, I saved the best for last. Romnesia? Isn't that a country in the former Yugoslavia? No?
The choice between going backward and moving forward has never been so clear. But now that we're 18 days out from the election, Mr. "Severely Conservative" wants you to think he was severely kidding about everything he said over the last year. He told folks he was "the ideal candidate" for the Tea Party. Now suddenly he's saying, "what, who, me?" He's forgetting what his own positions are, and he's betting that you will, too.
I mean, he's changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping we've got to name this condition that he's going through. I think it's called "Romnesia." That's what it's called. I think that's what he's going through.
Now, I'm not a medical doctor, but I do want to go over some of the symptoms with you -- because I want to make sure nobody else catches it. If you say you're for equal pay for equal work, but you keep refusing to say whether or not you'd sign a bill that protects equal pay for equal work -- you might have Romnesia.
If you say women should have access to contraceptive care, but you support legislation that would let your employer deny you contraceptive care -- you might have a case of Romnesia.
If you say you'll protect a woman's right to choose, but you stand up at a primary debate and said that you'd be delighted to sign a law outlying -- outlawing that right to choose in all cases -- man, you've definitely got Romnesia.
Now, this extends to other issues. If you say earlier in the year, I'm going to give a tax cut to the top 1 percent and then in a debate you say, I don't know anything about giving tax cuts to rich folks -- you need to get a thermometer, take your temperature, because you've probably got Romnesia.
If you say that you're a champion of the coal industry when, while you were governor you stood in front of a coal plant and said, this plant will kill you -- that's some Romnesia.
So I think you're being able -- you're beginning to be able to identify these symptoms. And if you come down with a case of Romnesia, and you can't seem to remember the policies that are still on your website -- or the promises you've made over the six years you've been running for president, here's the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions. We can fix you up. We've got a cure. We can make you well, Virginia. This is a curable disease.
Chris Weigant blogs at:
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Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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