Marybeth Hicks

In 1968, cigarette maker Philip Morris launched a brand of smokes just for women. Marketed with the provocative slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” Virginia Slims offered an elegant profile and an image that suggested freedom, empowerment and equality.

Unfortunately for women, “Skinny Ginnys” were not a cultural or political statement, they were just cigarettes. The brand caused nicotine addiction and lung cancer but also was responsible for a rapid increase in smoking among teen girls.

Nonetheless, sales of Virginia Slims made buckets of money for a whole lot of savvy men in sales and marketing. Chalk one up for the boys in the backroom.

Turns out women still haven’t come a long way. In this election year, they continue to be manipulated with tactics that make them feel good, even if the result will be bad.

According to the latest data from the Pew Research Center, women are ready to return President Obama to the White House later this year by a margin of at least 20 percentage points over either Republican candidate Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum.

This is a drastic change since February, when both potential Republican candidates were running about even against the president in tracking polls.

Then, in a bizarre — almost surreal — turn of events, the fight against an insurance mandate that violates tenets of Catholicism became a controversy over whether Republicans want to ban contraception. (They don’t.) What should have been an all-out battle to protect our nation’s heritage of religious liberty has become a phony “war on women.”

Some women may believe Democrats are looking out for their best interests, but they ought to remember the old saw, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on the Democrats.”

Oops. That’s the new saw.

Just as Virginia Slims used savvy marketing tactics to foist an unhealthy addiction onto a generation of unsuspecting and gullible women and girls, the political left continues to manipulate women with strategies that make them think their “issues” are being addressed and their interests are being protected.

Thus, the hysterical response about birth-control pills to the serious subject of insurance mandates. No one is suggesting that female contraception be banned. It’s just not a responsibility of the American people to provide free birth control to their fellow citizens, and it’s especially not the responsibility of religious employers or others of faith who object to providing such coverage on moral grounds.

Marybeth Hicks

Marybeth Hicks is the author of Don't Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left's Assault on Our Families, Faith, and Freedom (Regnery Publishers, 2011).