For the record, here’s what Huckabee told the assembled at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting:
“Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war on them. It’s a war for them. And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.”
To Democrats, this was one more demonstration that high-profile Republican men don’t know how to properly address women’s issues.
The defense from Huckabee and his supporters was: No, no, it’s not that we believe women are helpless sluts. It’s that we’re saying Democrats treat women like helpless sluts.
Not sure that’s an awesome defense for a creepy and confusing comment that included the words “libido” and “Uncle Sugar.”
Somewhere there must be a Republican consultant who’s begging Huckabee and others to speak more carefully lest they give the wrong impression. Actually there is. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus Monday clarified that these comments are “not where our party stands, it isn’t really even what Mike Huckabee meant to say. I mean he had a pretty good message, and it was overshadowed by a choice of words that was just a little bit off, that’s all.”
Or is that all?
Maybe Huckabee, speaking on the week of the 41st anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision, was sending a more subtle message to his conservative audience. Perhaps the key meaning was in the section referencing “Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control.”
While the Roe vs. Wade decision divided and continues to divide the nation, a 1965 Supreme Court decision regarding the regulation of contraception isn’t nearly as contentious.
In Griswold v. Connecticut, the court ruled a state cannot ban “any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception,” as Connecticut had done since 1879.
While Roe stirs passions of opponents and supporters of abortion rights four decades after the court’s ruling, very few Americans are so stirred by Griswold. Said differently, while many conservative states are comfortable chipping away at a woman’s right to have an abortion, very few are willing to restrict the sale of contraception.
Huckabee says he sees a mindset among Democrats that use the government to provide “them a prescription each month for birth control.” If his intention is to deny this prescription or other methods of birth control to Americans, then Huckabee is way off base.