No matter who is the Democratic standard bearer in 2016, the “war on women” rhetoric will be a key weapon against the Republican nominee. It worked once, and so why not? If the Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton, rather than celebrating that a woman is leading the ticket, the Democrats will build on the notion that a woman is “owed” the White House. So Abbott’s triumph, despite his having been characterized as a sexist troglodyte, is something Republicans should study.
I have a theory for why Abbot was able to survive this rhetorical: He didn’t get his feelings hurt. You could feel how unfair Romney felt the trumped up “binders of women” controversy to be, as you can feel Republicans at the thought of voting against any legislation that the Left claims helps women.
But Abbott never seemed frightened by the “war on women” hype. He was comfortable in his skin in the same way that fathers in the 1950s were comfortable in theirs. Don’t get me wrong. I love women politicians—or some of them. The irony is that sometimes women politicians are more manly than the guys because they guys are so afraid of the women. Margaret Thatcher, for example, I regard as one of the three greatest figures of recent times (Pope John Paul II and Reagan are the other two). Germany’s Angela Merkel has sometimes seemed to be the only person standing between Europe and financial oblivion. Heck, I even have a soft spot for village-razing Boadicea, who led a revolt against the Romans. But I want men to be less afraid of them. We need more of the decisiveness of the Abbotts and Putins. It was galling to have Czar Vladimir lecture us on American exceptionalism, but you have to admit: the guy is a leader.
One more thing. Abbott was propelled to his sweeping victory by his opposition to an economically-damaging carbon emissions tax and his promise to crack down on illegal immigration. Neither of these factors is likely to give solace to Democrats.
Maybe the lesson of Australia is that, when real issues are paramount in the public consciousness, the phony “war on women” becomes moot. I have a hunch that, after three more years of President Obama, more substantial issues than the war on women will occupy our attention.