Back for 2008: Paternalistic Presidential Candidates

(Caption: Huckabee loves babies. The women who give birth to them? Not so much.)

Feministing‘s Jessica Valenti has snagged a guest-blogger gig at the Nation, and she’s making the most of it in her first post, taking on Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s views on women and abortion. She writes:

Papa Huckabee is on one heck of a sexist roll.

Just this past weekend Huckabee said, “I think if a doctor knowingly took the life of an unborn child for money, and that’s why he was doing it, yeah, I think you would, you would find some way to sanction that doctor…I think you don’t punish the woman, first of all, because it’s not about … I consider her a victim, not a criminal.

Now, you have to love that Huckabee assumes abortion providers are men (I suppose that makes it easier to paint them as taking advantage of poor widdle women), but even worse is the assumption that women don’t realize that when they get an abortion, they’re getting an abortion” (emphasis in original).

Paternalism like this from the men in positions of power in the U.S. is nothing new. But it kills me that the more Huckabee says stuff like this, the higher he polls in Iowa and other places. He is ascendant even as he is increasingly public with his antiquated and evangelically-motivated views of women (and gay people, and people who are HIV-positive). All this despite the fact that it turns out that Huckabee has accepted over $50,000 in speaking fees from groups that support stem-cell research and increased access to emergency contraception.

This tactic of blaming the doctor and excusing the woman as not accountable for her own actions is old hat for the anti-woman anti-abortion brigade. It’s a hypocrisy they don’t often address. So perhaps we should give Huckabee props for coming out and saying what his fellow misogynists think: the reason we shouldn’t punish women for seeking abortions but should punish their doctors is that women are not sound moral actors while doctors are. Shocking and saddening that in the year 2008 this notion still gets so much traction…but it does.

All that said, the Iowa caucuses tonight and the primaries that follow over the next month or so will be at least in part a measure of what’s more important to Republican America: culture-war type misogyny and closed-mindedness or real-world credentials and plans to deal with the mess of a situation the Bush Administration has left. I don’t want any of the GOP candidates as my President, but I’d certainly be more disgusted and less hopeful about the coming years to see Huckabee’s name on the ballot than some of the others.

[Note: the political opinions discussed in this post and on this blog are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of LSRJ, which is a non-partisan nonprofit organization].

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