Democrats were quick to denounce comments made Thursday by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (shown) at the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C. Huckabee, a former GOP presidential contender and current Fox News commentator, charged that Democrats are insulting women with a healthcare program that implies women "can't control their libido" without the government's help. Rebutting the long-standing Democratic charge that Republicans are waging a "war on women" over access to abortion and other reproductive issues, Huckabee claimed it is the requirement for free contraceptive coverage in the Affordable Care Act that is demeaning to women.
"If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are hopeless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them with their 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," Huckabee said, adding: "Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats will play them to be."
President Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney, was informed of the comments during yesterday's daily press briefing at the White House and labeled the remarks "offensive to me and to women."
"Mike Huckabee has no idea what he's talking about," asserted Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the House member from Florida who chairs the Democratic National Committee. The remarks, she said, run counter to plans Republicans announced last year to broaden the party's appeal to women and minorities after election returns and exit polling indicated 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney finished far behind Obama among those demographic groups.
"If this is the GOP rebrand a year later then all they've gotten is a year older," said Wasserman Schultz. ABC News appeared to agree, placing the headline, "Huckabee's Comments on Birth Control a Gift for Democrats" over the Associated Press story that appeared on the TV network's website.
"Mike Huckabee's comments about contraception proved quick fodder for Democrats and a headache for Republicans trying to market themselves as a better choice for female voters who have proved elusive to the GOP," wrote the AP's Phillip Elliott.
In Kentucky, where Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is looking to oust Republican leader Mitch McConnell in this year's U.S. Senate race, the Grimes campaign tried to tie McConnell to Huckabee's remarks. "Mitch McConnell's cringe-worthy record of standing up for Kentucky's women and families effortlessly aligns with Mike Huckabee's extreme, anti-woman rhetoric," according to a statement issued by the Grimes campaign. "As McConnell enthusiastically touts Huckabee's endorsement, he ought to explain to the women of Kentucky why he embraces such offensive commentary."
In 2008, Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses, the leadoff event in the presidential primary chase, and won caucuses and primaries in a total of eight states before bowing out to the prohibitive frontrunner and eventual nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain. He passed on the chance to run again in 2012, but is believed to be eyeing the White House for 2016, keeping in touch with supporters in key states, such as Iowa and South Carolina, and with campaign contributors. An ordained Baptist minister, he has enjoyed his strongest support from among evangelicals and other conservative Christians, and more generally among those who identify with the social conservatism proclaimed in Republican platforms and campaigns on issues ranging from abortion and voluntary prayer in public schools to opposition to the "contraceptive mandate" promulgated under the ObamaCare law, requiring employers, including religious-affiliated non-profit charitable organizations, to make sure coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs is available free of charge under their employees' health insurance program. On his Huckabee show on Fox News last Saturday, he spoke on traditional Republican themes of excessive taxation and regulation.
"Every aspect of productivity in this country, we decide you're going to be taxed" because the government "decides that what they do with our money is more important and valuable than what we do with our money," he said. "That's the government's way of saying that they don't value the work that you do."
Huckabee's voice is also part of a virtually unanimous chorus among Republicans calling for repeal of ObamaCare, passed in 2010 without a Republican vote in either house of Congress. "It was Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama," who pushed the Affordable Care Act through Congress," Huckabee recalled, "and since there weren't any Republican fingerprints on putting it in place, why not give the Republicans an opportunity to put some fingerprints on the plan to replace it, repeal it, and get something that will actually help empower families, empower doctors, empower nurses, and no longer shackle us to a health care system that is unendurable."
Whatever the Republicans might offer as a replacement for ObamaCare, a government program from either the Democrats or Republicans is not what is needed to empower families or unshackle the healthcare system. For that we have the Constitution of the United States, designed to get government "off the backs" of the people, as Ronald Reagan used to say. There is nothing in the Constitution that suggests "We the people" have delegated to our federal government authority to create a healthcare program. Nor did it occur to the Framers of that document to burden either Congress or the executive branch with the task of accommodating the libido of either gender with anything resembling the contraceptive mandate from the Obama administration, or coverage for the testosterone-boosting benefits of Viagra under the prescription drug benefit add-on to Medicare that President George W. Bush pushed through a Republican-controlled Congress in 2003 — at a cost of $500 billion over 10 years.