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Mon Nov 26, 2012, 03:54 PM

John McCain realizes GOP can’t win war on women

As the GOP senator shies away from his remarks on abortion and Susan Rice, Patty Murray emerges as a Senate force


John McCain sounded awfully chastened yesterday. Gone was the bluster of doing “everything in my power to block” Susan Rice from a position she has yet to be nominated for. He didn’t question her competence. The rage gave way to this Sunday morning walkback: “I think she deserves the ability and the opportunity to explain herself and her position, just as she said. But, she’s not the problem. The problem is the president of the United States.”

I doubt McCain is done being an angry, bitter man who still hasn’t forgiven Rice for her attack on him during the 2008 presidential campaign. But someone must have told him that trashing an accomplished, relatively young woman of color who wasn’t even remotely responsible for what happened in Benghazi is just not a good look these days. Maybe McCain underestimated how many people had Rice’s back, from the Congressional Black Caucus to the president himself — just as his fellow party members had underestimated the power of the voting bloc they commanded on Nov. 6.

Similarly, McCain has never been much of an enthusiastic culture warrior (derisive air quotes around women’s health aside) but it was still striking how he basically suggested his party should cede the abortion issue after getting widely rejected by unmarried female voters. “As far as young women are concerned, absolutely, I don’t think anybody like me — I can state my position on abortion. But to — other than that, leave the issue alone.” It might not sound like much, but plenty on the right haven’t quite forgiven Mitch Daniels for suggesting a “truce” on social issues back in 2010, and some of them still think Mitt Romney lost because he didn’t talk about abortion enough.

Obama’s firm defense of Rice and, at least during the campaign, of reproductive rights, are welcome signs of backbone among Democrats. Even before this month’s electoral victories, the party seemed better organized and less apologetic than in recent memory. And no one better exemplifies the virtue of this moment than Sen. Patty Murray, a far less bombastic presence than her colleague McCain who has nonetheless managed to get lots done behind the scenes lately.


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DonViejo Nov 2012 OP
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Mon Nov 26, 2012, 04:24 PM

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