I enjoy Molly Ball’s work normally, but this piece from her about how social conservatives need to get with the times is uncharacteristically naive.
Ever since Republicans got clobbered in the last election, some have suggested they dial back some of their hard stances in the culture war. The College Republicans, for example, commissioned a study that concluded that young voters see the party as fusty and old-fashioned, and urged it to get with the times on issues such as gay marriage. America may not be keen on free love and abortion on demand, but neither are voters clamoring for a party that wants to restrict access to contraception and keep women out of the work force.
And yet Republican politicians do not seem to have gotten the message.
I’m pretty sure that no one who actually understands politics finished watching Mitt Romney job-jobs-jobs–we’re talking about jobs!–campaign and came away thinking, Yup; Republicans lost because they wouldn’t stop with their crazy Bible thumpin’ again. But don’t take Romney’s word for it–look back at the contemporaneous reporting from the Obama campaign. Obama made a couple tactical war-on-women stands, but for the most part his campaign consisted of hammering Romney over income inequality. In fact, you might remember 2012 as the least culture-war presidential campaign of modern times.
Except, perhaps, for 2008. When Republicans nominated another candidate who had absolutely nothing to say on social issues and intentionally stayed away from them for the duration of the entire race. Which, by the way, turned on the collapse of Lehmann Brothers. Not gay marriage. I know, I know–it’s hard to remember that just five years ago gay marriage wasn’t the single most important issue in the history of the Republic. Weird, huh?
Also weird–if social conservatives are so dominant, why did the GOP nominate Mitt Romney and John McCain to be their standard bearers? And why is everyone so hot for Chris Christie in 2016? And why . . . oh, nevermind.
Look, this isn’t to say that double-barreled conservatives would have fared better in 2008 and 2012. Would Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum have beaten Obama? I wouldn’t have taken either of those guys without getting odds.
But the foundation of Ball’s argument–that the GOP is in thrall to the women-hating mouth-breathers–is such obvious silly, progressive CW, that I’m kind of disappointed to see her falling for it.