December 18, 2012 — Recent opinion pieces in the Washington Post and Salon discuss the California Commission on Judicial Performance's rebuke of Judge Derek Johnson's comments on rape and the Republican Party's efforts to re-engage voters through moderated stances on women's health issues.
~ Mary Curtis, "She the People," Washington Post: "Once again, we have a powerful man using his position ... to teach the rest of us what is and is not rape," Curtis, a journalist, writes, referring to Johnson. Curtis asks, "Who would think that in 2012 we would still be discussing what qualifies as rape?" adding that "the urge among some to discount a rape victim's story ... is primal and persistent." She concludes, "Advice to rape victims is always to do whatever you have to do to survive. How sad that in Johnson's court and in the court of opinion of those who would pass judgment, that very survival will be held against the search for justice and relief" (Curtis, "She the People," Washington Post, 12/14).
~ Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon: After detailing Johnson's "less than stellar track record with female victims," Williams satirically defends him, noting that he's "not without compassion." While Johnson thought that "impos[ing] a tougher sentence on a rapist" whose victim "didn't put up a fight" would "be an insult" and "would trivialize rape," Williams notes that the judge is compassionate enough to allow inmates an extra meal in celebration of the "fanciful 'Seinfeld' holiday of Festivus." "That's right," she concludes, "Festivus is real, but sexual assault is still up in the air" (Williams, Salon, 12/14).
~ Jennifer Rubin, "Right Turn," Washington Post: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) recent endorsement of nonprescription oral contraception is one "tidy, common-sense mechanis[m] for extracting Republicans from idiotic positions that give the public the idea [that] the GOP is out to lunch," Rubin writes. She encourages the effort, noting that the GOP's national agenda should "stress opposition to vested special group interests and the cronyism that goes along with it," including "Big Pharm." While the GOP should stop "taking nonsensical positions that are out of touch with the vast majority of Americans," it also has to show "it cares about people, wants to treat citizens fairly" and is "committed" to government reform to win votes, she writes. "That is a big task," Rubin acknowledges, "but then again the GOP is in big trouble" (Rubin, "Right Turn," Washington Post, 12/14).
~ Jamelle Bouie, "The Plum Line," Washington Post: "Smart Republicans realize that they have to improve their standing with women if they want to make their way back to the White House," but "small concessions," like Jindal's endorsement of nonprescription oral contraception, "aren't nearly enough," Bouie, a staff writer at American Prospect writes. Jindal's opinion piece "amounts to little more than a 'rebranding,'" he continues, because Jindal "doesn't try to address" the real problem for women, which was that the contraception debate "was an issue of equity, not access." Since "there's little indication that the Republican Party has backed away from" policies that put "real restrictions" on birth control, Jindal's opinion "rings hollow," he writes (Bouie, "The Plum Line," Washington Post, 12/14).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership