Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s decision, on his way out the door, to lift the ban on women serving in combat units has engendered much consternation among traditionalists both in and out of uniform. On a recent visit to Quantico, the base near Washington where Marine Corps University is located, I got an earful from combat veterans who fretted that standards would be lowered to allow women to serve in combat units. The concern is especially acute when it comes to infantry units, because infantrymen have a particularly arduous and important specialty, one that has long accounted for the majority of casualties suffered in America’s wars. I supported Panetta’s decision to lift the ban but I have to acknowledge that the concerns are valid. How they are addressed will determine whether lifting the ban is a success or not.
A New York Times reporter who was allowed to observe the Infantry Officer School at Quantico found out why two recent female candidates washed out—and why future female candidates are likely to face steep barriers. Literally. As James Dao notes: “It all begins with the Combat Endurance Test, a slog through rolling forests that requires physical strength, endurance, military knowledge and willpower. Students must swim, assemble weapons from jumbled parts, navigate from point to point and carry weight over distances.
The Obama campaign released an interactive chart today called “The Life of Julia,” which purports to show “how President Obama’s policies help one woman over her lifetime – and how Mitt Romney would change her story.”
We first see the fictional cartoon Julia at age three, enjoying the Head Start program that Obama says he has “taken steps to improve.” Under Romney, we’re told, budget cuts to Head Start would result in 200,000 fewer slots per year for young children. Thanks to Obama’s birth control mandate, the 27-year-old Julia is able to “focus on her work rather than worry about her health.” Romney, on the other hand, supports legislation that would “place Julia’s health care decisions in the hands of her employer.”
The chart goes on to describe how Obama’s policies would help Julia and Romney’s would hurt her at various ages. As you can imagine, most of it is wildly dishonest. But instead of rebutting all the falsehoods, I’d rather take a look at how Obama’s policies would impact Julia throughout her life, based on another chart the White House released, buried within Obama’s FY13 budget proposal.
Mitt Romney said yesterday that women lost 92.3 percent of all jobs lost under the Obama administration, a claim that earned the suspicious distinction of “true but false” from the Washington Post fact-check team. The reason for this contradictory finding? While WaPo conceded the statistic was mathematically accurate, they added the odd, squishy disclaimer that it “may simply [be] a function of a coincidence of timing — a brief blip that could have little to do with ‘Obama’s job market.’”
But while it might be unfair to say Obama’s policies are fully responsible for the disproportionate impact the recession has had on women, there’s no denying that fact that women have been hit hardest. Even WaPo fact-checker Glenn Kessler notes this in his analysis:
In other words, men did lose more jobs in the recession. Now that the economy is growing again, men are recovering jobs at a faster pace than women. In fact, the latest employment report shows that male participation in the work force was up 14,000 while female participation fell 177,000, in part because women tend to work in retail or government jobs (such as teaching), which have been cut in recent months.
During the past year, opinion polls have consistently shown widespread public disapproval of President Obama’s health care reform law. The Hill has a new survey out reaffirming this, as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the law later today.
The most interesting takeaway from the poll is that the disapproval for ObamaCare is spread across most voting demographics, including two key groups that Democrats have argued benefit most from the law: young people and women. From The Hill:
By a 52-percent-to-39-percent margin women are more opposed to it than men, who oppose it 48 percent to 45 percent, a difference that matches the poll’s 3-point margin of error. …
While even the youngest voters oppose the law (47 percent to 42 percent among those aged 18-39), opposition grows to 53 percent among voters aged 65 and older.
Here’s more evidence suggesting that the New York Times “trend” story on how women are bolting from the GOP and flocking to the Obama campaign was complete fantasy. And the latest contradictions come from the New York Times’ own poll:
In the head-to-head matchups, Mr. Obama also maintained much of the advantage he had built in the last year among important constituencies, including women, although he lost some support among women over the past month, even as the debate raged over birth control insurance coverage.
Mr. Obama appears to be retaining much of his gains among important demographic groups, erasing inroads that Republicans made in 2010, especially among women. But his falling approval rating in the last month extended to his handling of both the economy and foreign policy, the poll found.
Are Republicans losing female supporters because of the Democratic Party’s incessant attempts to smear them as anti-women? Polls say no, but when do liberals ever let statistics get in the way of a good narrative? The truth vigilantes at the New York Times put seven reporters across the country on the case, and, after “dozens of interviews in recent weeks,” managed to track down five female Republicans and one independent who displayed varying degrees of disappointment at the GOP candidates’ recent comments on social issues. The result was this headline: “Centrist Women Tell of Disenchantment with Republicans.”
The Times reports:
In Iowa, one of the crucial battlegrounds in the coming presidential election, and in other states, dozens of interviews in recent weeks have found that moderate Republican and independent women — one of the most important electoral swing groups — are disenchanted by the Republican focus on social issues like contraception and abortion in an election that, until recently, had been mostly dominated by the economy.
And in what appears to be an abrupt shift, some Republican-leaning women like Ms. Russell said they might switch sides and vote for Mr. Obama — if they turn out to vote at all.