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November 6, 2012

The president's insulting campaign

It is a mercy that the suffragettes weren't around to see President Barack Obama's campaign for the women's vote. It would have made them weep in dismay.

Almost a hundred years after passage of the 19th Amendment, the president made perhaps the most superficial, misleading, and insulting appeal for the support of women in American presidential politics ever. It's a wonder that his target audience doesn't rise up as one and say, "Please, stop condescending to us."

If David Axelrod is right, what women care about most is making other people, even religious employers, pay for their birth control. They love abortion with a single-minded passion. They are so easily manipulated that they can be motivated to oppose Mitt Romney because he said innocently in a debate that his aides brought him "binders full of women" to consider for his cabinet as Massachusetts governor.

They can be convinced that they are the victims of a "war on women" as long as the slogan is repeated over and over again. They can be made to believe that the Lilly Ledbetter Act is an epochal change in the balance of power between the genders, when pay discrimination has long been illegal and the Lilly Ledbetter Act merely tilts the playing field against employers and toward trial lawyers by allowing lawsuits years after alleged acts of pay discrimination.

The likes of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton argued that women were just as capable of rational deliberation as men. The conceit of the Obama campaign is that, to the contrary, they are quite susceptible to a few powerful dog whistles and unable to see beyond their gender. To paraphrase a notorious post on the Obama campaign's Tumblr page, "ladies vote like their lady parts depend on it."

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