Women as Wedge Issue
Posted on Apr 6, 2012
It’s high election season, and that means the leaders in this year’s presidential battle need a good wedge issue or two to get voters all exercised and in touch with their innermost convictions (read: Get them to the polls). Why not seek that in the collective form of roughly half the nation’s population?
Yes, we’re talking about women—and whether that means trotting out the trusty Trojan horse that is the reproductive rights debate, at least as it is often misused in these contexts, or conjuring up poll data indicating this or that candidate isn’t connecting with female-identified Americans, suddenly the image-conscious campaign teams from both Democratic and Republican ranks are all about the ladies.
But lest we misunderstand him, President Obama wants us to know that “women are not an interest group.” That’s settled, then. —KA
In the thick of a battle over women, the White House is seizing on the Republican Party’s struggle to woo female voters by inviting scores of them to Washington to tell the administration what they want.
The White House’s overture included President Obama himself, who told his female supporters today that they mean more to him than just some “monolithic” interest group; Attorney General Eric Holder, who empathized with women who are working to help victims of domestic violence; health secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who talked to women about health care; and a host of female advisers like Valerie Jarrett and Cecilia Munoz who promised that the administration has their back.
But it was Republicans who struck first in the morning, as the monthly employment report showed that 120,000 jobs were added in March, fewer than expected. Sharon Day, a cochairwoman of the Republican National Committee, tied the number to women’s issues explicitly.
President Barack Obama speaks at the White House Forum on Women and the Economy on Friday in Washington.