Some of the Republicans in Washington missed the birds-and-bees lecture at daddy’s knee. Their leader was puzzling Monday over a libido — what it is, who has one and what to do with it — on the eve of President Obama’s State of the Union address, when he is expected to elaborate on his scheme to suspend the Constitution.
There’s lots to say about Mr. Obama and his plot, unilaterally lifting the threat of deportation of an entire class of illegal aliens, bypassing Senate confirmation of his most egregious appointments, altering work requirements under welfare reform and announcing that the federal government will recognize homosexual marriages in Utah no matter what the courts say about it.
This was after he changed the Obamacare law as passed by Congress. Someone forgot to tell him that presidents don’t have a line-item veto, that he has to live with laws he doesn’t like, just like the rest of us.
But sex, as it always does, gets in the way of everything. Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, where a healthy libido is not unknown, started the libido talk in a speech to the Republican National Committee. Mike got started on the Democratic canard that Republicans are fighting a “war on women.”
“If the Democrats want to insult women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido[s] or their reproductive system[s] without the help of the government, so be it.”
Feminists and their liege men were outraged, accusing Mike of the mortal sin and high crime of treating women as feminists say women want to be treated, grown-ups as rough and tough as any man.
It’s not clear, however, why “libido” is an indelicate word. Feminists and their liege throw other words of far less delicacy about with gay abandon. Not so long ago, the desperate pursuit of the multiple orgasm was a topic of polite discussion in family newspapers, much like the pursuit of the atomic bomb during World War II. The “Vagina Monologues” are holy writ in certain precincts.
Right on cue, the Republicans bowed to feminist outrage. Reince Priebus (not to be confused with Regis Philbin), the chairman of the Republican National Committee, lectured Mike sternly to watch his language. Mike apparently had not heard that in modern America vulgarity, bad taste and indelicacy is much frowned on.
Mr. Priebus first said he didn’t know, exactly, what Mike was talking about, but he urged Republicans to be “very conscious of the tone and choice of words.” This is only good manners.
In the days of yore, this was sometimes called “gallantry,” the deference men cheerfully pay to women, inculcated in little boys from the time they first feel an urge to pull a little girl’s pigtails. But gallantry is sexist, and the modern woman never wants to be regarded as someone special.
Mike forgot all that, so on Monday Mr. Priebus reminded him again. A television interviewer asked whether his rebuke of Mike was a rebuke of Mike, and he replied that yes, it was, but unfortunately he didn’t leave it at that. Palavering on, using a dozen words to say nothing when a word or two would have sufficed, the mouthpiece for the party was quickly befuddled by all the sex talk.
“And the reason is that, you know, you have to accept the political world we live in, in the sense that you cannot offer up words like ‘libido’ — wherever that came from — you don’t offer up these sorts of lobs and set up passes and serves that allow the Democrats to spike the ball. It’s not where our party stands. It isn’t really even what Mike Huckabee meant to say. I mean, he had a pretty good message, and it was overshadowed by a choice of words that was just a little bit off, that’s all.”
Shorn of the bloviation and the tangle of sports metaphors — lobs, passes, serves and spikes — Mr. Priebus concedes that Mike’s point is a good one, and he agrees with it. This could have been the occasion to lob the “war on women” back at the Democrats, exposing it as the phony accusation that everyone knows it is. But Mr. Priebus, like so many Republicans who flinch at the sound of the guns, used the occasion instead to show that he’s housebroken, even if Mike is not.
But enough of the sexy stuff. We’re ready now for the master’s speech about the state of his party’s disaster.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.