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Monday, Sep 13, 2004, 6:39 am

Women. That sought after bloc.

By Phoebe Connelly
Ok. So we're back to discussing women as a key voting bloc in this fall election: "What Women Voters Want" But what is eerie about this editorial, published in this Sunday's New York Times is not that it considers this "swing" constituency, or even candidates' late efforts to address it, but that it champions Bush's successful recasting of his political message in ???a way that appeals to women??? as a some sort of victory for women as voters.

To be sure, the president did not erase Mr. Kerry's lead among women with one speech. Yet Mr. Bush's speech was the culmination of a studied, nuanced effort to alter the Republican message to women, and - perhaps more significant - to overhaul the approach of the party in reaching out to the majority of voters.

It's a revision of strategy, and a reversal of fortune, that deserves greater attention. In this presidential election, it is becoming more and more clear that the female voter is the true swing voter.


Isn't it more than a little insulting to women as a whole that all that needs altering in Bush's strategy is the language? After all, as Molly Ivins points out in the most recent Mother Jones:

Even after four years in office, George W. Bush???s record on women doesn???t leap out at you. It???s composed almost entirely of little things, small enough to fly well under the media???s radar screen, so few of us have any sense of their cumulative impact. But when you step back, the pattern emerges, and it is large, ugly, and unmistakable. Behind a smoke screen of high-profile female appointees and soothing slogans, George W. Bush is waging war on women.


Right. So perhaps we could go back to Bush???s position in regards to issues and not just ???his building an emotional connection, humanizing himself and portraying himself as the candidate who can keep America safe????

Phoebe Connelly, a former managing editor at In These Times, is Web Editor at The American Prospect.

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