Leave it to Barney Frank to perfectly characterize the recent McCarthyesque remarks of Allen West, Republican congressman from Florida. West had this exchange at a town hall event:
Questioner: What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists?
Allen West: It’s a good question. I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party…It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Barney Frank told The Huffington Post:
Not even Joe McCarthy would have said anything so stupid and dissociated from reality. It’s an indication of the significant deterioration of the Republican Party as a responsible entity that an ignorant, mean guy like Allen West is considered one of their stars.
“Stupid” and “dissociated from reality” is just about right. And Frank is certainly right that today’s GOP is not your father’s GOP.
Or, for that matter, Mitt Romney’s father’s GOP. Despite his reputation for gaffe-making, does anyone believe that George Romney would have said this:
There’s been some talk about a war on women. The real war on women has been waged by the Obama administration’s failure on the economy. Do you know what percentage of job losses during the Obama years of have been casualties of women losing jobs as opposed to men? Do you know how many women, what percent of the job losses were women? 92.3 percent of the job losses during the Obama years have been women who’ve lost those jobs.
That was not a Romney family gaffe. It was pure deception. Mittens made that statement on Wednesday as a way of improving his miserable standing among women voters. And in a way, it is sort of sad that a man who will be the Republican candidate for president has to resort to such dishonest tactics. Doing so is, well, if not technically “stupid,” at least “dissociated from reality.”
The Romney campaign is counting job losses that occurred literally the day Obama took office, which is a bit like blaming the fire fighter for not traveling back in time to stop the fire. It also ignores the fact that, before women started losing work en masse, millions of men had already been handed pink slips. Between December 2007 and January 2009, about 3.3 million men lost their jobs, versus 1.2 million women. Was President Bush waging a war on Y chromosomes? Hardly. That’s just the natural pattern of a recession. Male dominated fields like construction and manufacturing are more sensitive to the ups and downs of the economy, so when times get tough, their jobs tend to disappear faster, and in larger numbers. Women, who are concentrated in fields like healthcare, government, and education, tend to feel the pain less severely.
Weissmann makes an additional point, a point that Democrats should make to women at every campaign stop:
Romney should be careful with his talking point. All those women who lost work? About two-thirds of them were laid off from government jobs. And a lot of them lived in states governed by Republicans.
It is no secret that state and local government employment has been shrinking. And it is no secret that women make up a disproportionate part of that work force. Weissmann offered this graph:
The Taxed-Enough-Already Republican Party has argued for smaller government, and smaller government means fewer government employees, and fewer government employees means greater job losses among women.
From January 2009 to March of 2012, there was a net job loss of 740,000, most of which (683,000) were jobs held by women (this is the basis for the Romney near-lie). But of those 683,000 lost jobs, most of them were lost in the public sector.
Here’s Weissmann’s pie chart:
Now, given that Romney is convincingly running as a small-government teapartier, he should applaud these job losses, at least 64% of them. But as Weissmann points out, there is more to it. Here is another pie chart:
You can see that most of the job losses—at least 72%—occurred in states that have been under Tea Party control since 2010. And yet Mittens incredibly blames Obama for it! And one must keep in mind that these job losses at the state and local level happened despite the fact that Obama’s stimulus plan kept some states from laying off even more workers.
So, Romney’s deceitful play for a bigger chunk of the female vote will, if Democrats can make the case effectively, backfire on him. Just like Allen West’s attempt to become a hero of McCarthyite Republicans has made a fool out of him.