The classic example of our time is the “Bush doctrine” question Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin in 2008. In Palin’s defense, President George W. Bush’s approval of pre-emptive warfare hadn’t even earned the capital “D” of the “Monroe Doctrine” yet. So no matter how unprepared she was, Palin was justified in asking which Bush doctrine.
A particularly bitter partisan is trying to score points on Mitt Romney now over a similar question. In a conference call with reporters, some of Romney’s campaign advisors were asked if the candidate supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act.
Romney’s campaign advisors didn’t know. They offered to get back to the reporter on that.
“It took more than 20 years to get an answer for the injustices I suffered as an unfairly paid worker, so I know what it’s like to wait,” Ledbetter wrote for CNN.com this week. “But the six seconds of silence from Mitt Romney’s campaign recently seemed like forever.”
Do you know what the Lilly Ledbetter Act is? If you do, go to the head of the class. It’s a law, signed by President Barack Obama in 2009, concerning equal pay lawsuits. It changes how the statute of limitations for filing such suits works. The statute of limitations (180 days) now resets with each “discriminatory paycheck,” rather than starting at the date of the initial discriminatory wage decision.
It’s an important change, but it’s not by any stretch a ground-breaking advance for women’s rights.
Yet those “six seconds of silence” on that conference call is all Ledbetter needs to condemn Romney as a misogynist.
“What an insult,” she wrote. “While Romney decides whether he opposes gender discrimination, here is an important reality he should consider: This isn’t just about women. It’s about all families and their economic security.”
Ledbetter quickly turns it into a straw-man political attack on Romney, blithely misrepresenting his positions while extolling Obama’s.
She wrote that Romney would “repeal Obama’s health reforms and bring back the discriminatory days when being a woman was considered a pre-existing condition, which means insurance companies could charge us more than men for the same coverage or deny it to us altogether.”
Lilly Ledbetter’s CNN.com column is merely the latest salvo in the trumped-up “war on women” supposedly being waged by Republicans.
There are plenty of solid criticisms that can be leveled at Romney and other Republicans. Their economic premises differ vastly from those of Democrats; let’s discuss those.
But can we, please, set aside the gotcha questions and fake indignation?