September 9 2013
News from Down Under: "War on Women" Rhetoric Not Playing So Well
The incendiary “war on women” rhetoric seems not to have played down under.
(1) The defeat of Statists anywhere on the planet merits attention and applause.
(2) Two of the main issues used by the opposition to successfully bludgeon the ruling party were lax immigration enforcement and public anger over a proposed carbon tax. Abbott’s new government now has a mandate to step up border security (vis-a-vis illegal boats from Asia), and kill the destructive carbon scheme.
(3) Labor went full-bore “war on women” against the Abbott & Co, and failed miserably.
Number three is worth thinking about since the 2016 presidential campaign will likely feature a repeat of the "war on women" rhetoric that helped Democrats in 2012.
In place of Obama campaign heroine Sandra Fluke, who felt aggrieved because the Jesuits didn't want to pay for her birth control pills, the Abbott campaign faced attacks from Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the first woman to hold the job. Gillard attacked Abbott as a sexist in what one newspaper calls her “misogyny speech.” The speech was delivered the floor of the Australian House.
The occasion was that Abbott wanted to sack Speaker of the House Peter Slipper because of “offensive banter” Slipper had used with a female employee. Gillard, who condemned the banter but didn’t want to sack Slipper, used the controversy as the pretext for a fifteen-minute rant against Abbott:
"I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not," she said, pointing at Abbott. "And the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever.
"If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives. He needs a mirror."
One recalls the outrage over Mitt Romney’s famous “binders of women” remark.
Just for the record, I don’t know enough about Australian politics or indeed Mr. Abbott to know if his attitude towards the role of women is so old-fashioned that it would offend many U.S. women, including many IWF women. But I do know this: the Australian vote is a sign that the “war on women” rhetoric doesn’t mean automatic victory.
And it’s not because of a lack of intensity on the part of the “war on women” crowd. A blogger for the U.K.’s lefty Guardian wrote:
After wiping the Krakatoa of tannic saliva from my desktop, I retreated to the office bathroom to ponder what the most appropriate response to “If you want to know who to vote for, I'm the guy with the not bad looking daughters" might be. Abbott may be prime minister on Saturday – should I puke violently? Or throw myself onto the tiles, keening like Hecuba?
If you haven’t seen the footage, I must insist that you do. Bear in mind that if the man flanked with babes like an oily ganglord entering a nightclub wins the election, he will not only set the policy agenda for this country but also supervise the presidency of the United Nations security council, just as war in Syria looks inevitable. Keep a bucket handy.
Abbott, as Guy Benson noted, was propelled to his sweeping victory by his opposition to an economically-damaging carbon emissions tax and his promise to crack down on illegal immigration. Neither of these factors is likely to give solace to Democrats.
The U.S. electorate was persuaded in 2012 that the economy was turning around and that it was only right to stick with President Obama.
Now more people know differently but at the time the argument obviously did not fall on deaf ears.
Maybe the lesson of Australia is that, when real issues are paramount in the public consciousness, the phony “war on women” becomes ineffective.