Well, for one thing, if the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars, and mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we have problems with caterpillars. — RNC Chairman Reince Preibus
The Republican Party knows that its war on women is turning into a huge electoral disaster. The proof is in the polling: Obama’s previous slight lead among women has mushroomed into a significant double-digit lead. Even more troublesome for Mitt Romney and down-ballot Republicans, this lead is especially prominent in the swing states that Romney would need to win to have a realistic chance at ousting President Obama from the White House.
The Republican Party’s solution—as expressed by its best-named chairman in history, Reince Preibus—is to claim that its war on women is a figment of the imagination: a sinister and fictional conspiracy dreamed up by Democrats and further propagated by a compliant mainstream media. It’s a rare example of the conservative movement being outflanked not just on facts, but on messaging: Republican policies are being woven into a consistent, well-messaged, easy-to-articulate narrative that is causing significant damage to their electoral prospects. Chairman Preibus’ exasperation led him to do something rash: in his attempt to accentuate the supposed fabrication he claims the war on women to be, he seemed to dismiss women in the process by comparing them to insects. Specifically, the larval form of the lepidoptera order.
Now, it would be a major surprise to everyone who has ever complained about Democratic messaging and lack of media accountability that Democratic activists would be capable of fabricating a story out of thin air and have the so-called traditional media regurgitate it wholesale with no accountability. Conservative ideologues find themselves quite capable of doing exactly this, in no small part because they have their own entire propaganda network waiting to spread disinformation. Hence, an entire swath of the country now “knows” that the Affordable Care Act will somehow create death panels, or that President Obama is a Muslim, or that he was not born in the United States.
If you remove all the vowels from the name of RNC Chairman Reince Preibus, you are left with something amazingly coincidental: “RNC PR BS.” And not surprisingly, that’s exactly what his assertion regarding the substance of his party’s war on women comes down to. So in order to remind Chairman Preibus about why media figures and women’s rights activists are claiming that his party is waging a so-called war on women, we should perhaps provide a helpful illustration of what a war on caterpillars might look like in this context.
- If Rush Limbaugh had spent three days of airtime singling out a younger tomato hornworm for advocating for a hatch control mandate, calling it a slut and saying that it had male hornworm moths lined up around the block, that could theoretically be evidence of a war on caterpillars. This, of course, presumes the fact that the hornworm in question pupated into an adult female, because otherwise those male moths would just be gay and we can’t have that. Even if the RNC wants to claim it doesn’t have a war on women, it most certainly does have a war on gay people.
- If a County Commissioner in North Carolina had claimed that if all these caterpillars would stop having all this sex, we wouldn’t have this problem to begin with, well, that could sort of sound like a war on caterpillars. Not that it makes too much sense, because as we all know, caterpillars don’t have any sex organs.
- Let’s say Mitt Romney had been asked about, say, the Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum here in Los Angeles. Let’s say, for the sake of example, he said, “yeah, we’ve got to get rid of that.” Caterpillars are the larval form of butterflies. That would definitely be a war on caterpillars.
- If Republican legislators in multiple states had pushed legislation requiring caterpillars to get a trans-abdominal ultrasound before molting into their next instar, that would seem quite hostile to caterpillars. Maybe even war-like.
- And lastly, let’s say that a Republican politician had compared caterpillars to a life-form obviously far beneath them in complexity and stature—perhaps a slime mold, or even a single-celled eukaryote. In the context of all the other Republican attacks on caterpillars, this might lend more fuel to the fire of a hypothetical war on caterpillars.
None of these things, of course, ever happened. Consequently, no matter how much the DNC attempted to construct a Republican war on caterpillars out of thin air, it would have been impossible: there isn’t one. But Rush Limbaugh did spend three days viciously attacking Sandra Fluke for daring to speak out on contraception. a county commissioner in North Carolina did say that it’s all the womenfolk’s fault for having all this sex (no word on whom they’re having it with). Mitt Romney did say that he wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood, where so many women of lesser means go to for health services since they can’t afford to go anywhere else. Several states have indeed pushed rape-by-wand bills for women seeking access to legal medical services. And yes, a Republican legislator in Georgia compared women to farm animals in suggesting that since pigs often have to carry dead fetuses to term, women should too.
Chairman Preibus claims that his party’s war on women is fictional. But if it’s not a war on women, then what is it exactly? Inquiring minds want to know.