Roll Call‘s Shira T. Center is covering Arizona’s tight CD2 race and sees a formidable candidate in Martha McSally:
Operatives couldn’t make up a better candidate résumé if they tried: retired Air Force Colonel, first in her class at the U.S. Air War College, the first female fighter pilot in combat who flies the very plane — an A-10 Warthog — that’s economically essential to the 2nd District.
At a time when Republicans wrangle with messaging to female voters, this 48-year-old’s spunk and articulate bite is made for television — and unlike anything the House GOP Conference has seen in a while…
…McSally doesn’t talk like the average congressional candidate, instead dropping phrases like “awesome,” “dorked up,” and “bad-ass airplane” before crowds and in conversations. During a live appearance on Fox News Channel in February 2012, she said she wanted to kick former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., “in the jimmy” for his position on women serving in combat…
…“I consider myself a feminist Republican, and that’s not an oxymoron,” McSally tells CQ Roll Call in an interview over a vegetarian burrito slightly smaller than a bowling pin.
McSally is definitely impressive on paper. When pressed for policy details on the campaign trail, however, that “articulate bite” is not evident. McSally seems to struggle to express clear positions on a variety of issues, including reproductive rights, often taking different stances depending upon whom she’s talking to:
When Cathi Herrod of the right-wing Center for Arizona Policy asked Martha McSally her position in 2012, McSally was pro-life in all cases with one exception: when abortion is “necessary to prevent the death of the mother.” [Center for Arizona Policy, 3/25/12]
Fast forward to 2013, when McSally told Tucson radio journalist John C. Scott (and former moderate Republican lawmaker) that she supports three legal exceptions for abortion: cases of rape, incest, and to protect the life of the mother. Further, she stated that the most important aspect of the issue, in her view, just concerned the federal funding of abortion, which she opposed. [John C. Scott Show, KVOI, 7/12/13]
And now, in 2014, Martha McSally told reporter Ashley Parker of the liberal New York Times that she supports FOUR exceptions to her proposed ban on a woman’s right to choose–not the three exceptions she laid out in 2013. McSally’s newest answer is that she would allow a woman to choose an abortion if not doing so would negatively impact the health of the mother–an exception she never mentioned to the Center for Arizona Policy or John C. Scott. [New York Times, 2/25/14]
Under the charitable assumption that McSally’s opinion on abortion access has evolved over the years, it still leaves her with terrible views on reproductive rights. (And Republican politicians have a way of claiming to be for certain exceptions during interviews, and then turning around and voting for abortion restrictions without those exceptions once in office.) McSally’s praise of the Hobby Lobby decision* is instructive in understanding her (very narrowly tailored) brand of feminism:
I agree with the majority of the court that the Obamacare mandate and penalties are not the least restrictive means of providing women access to contraception. Health and Human Services already identified a work-around for religious non-profits and I agree with the court that this work-around can apply in these narrow circumstances as well. But now we need to be focused on how we ensure more women have access to health care. The fact that we’re in this position shows exactly what’s wrong with Obamacare. It tries to force individuals and business owners into compliance through mandates and penalties, and, as we’ve seen, has actually hurt women’s access to health care through cancelled policies and reduced choice. I support patient-centered reform that ensures all women have access to affordable health care.
In case it isn’t obvious by now, “health care choice” is a right wing buzzword designed to appeal to white people who really resent the idea of sharing the waiting room with “Obamacare” recipients. McSally is for repealing the Affordable Care Act, which means that she is not for all women having access to health care by any stretch. If she had her way, millions of women would be stripped of their health coverage and given a meaningless “choice” in its place.
If McSally is elected, she will caucus with the GOP and vote to harm women in myriad ways. She may not vote with them every time, so as to keep up that “moderate” image for the gullible pundits, but enough of the time such that she should never be considered a champion of women. She is to be commended for her military career, during which she helped to break the glass ceiling for military fighter pilots, but a feminism that mainly concerns itself with empowering privileged women with resources to be “awesome” is no feminism I care to be associated with. I’d say McSally’s feminism has much less to do with lifting women up than it has with reminding certain voters how tough and strong she is, unlike all those other bimbos who depend on the government for everything**.
*Does McSally really think that Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor didn’t read the Hobby Lobby majority opinion?
**Really tired of Dems not calling them out on this bullshit. Women work and pay taxes too! It’s not a “handout” for us to get the health care and other public services we pay for.