War on 
women stays

If there’s one special talent of Republicans, it’s turning a nothing issue into a raging controversy. They’ve done it before: with Van Jones, ACORN and Obama’s birth certificate.

They did it again, with Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney. Judging from the feigned outrage, you’d think Rosen had accused her of being a lazy “welfare queen” — when, in fact, all she did was tell the truth.

Most people don’t realize how this whole flap started. In her job as CNN contributor, Rosen was merely responding to a ludicrous comment by Mitt Romney that, despite being a multimillionaire, he can identify with average Americans because his wife keeps him informed of what working-class women are thinking. 

Are you kidding? Rosen gasped. Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life.” By which, of course, she meant “never worked a day in her life outside the home.” The truth is, as Rosen was trying to point out: Ann Romney, in her life of luxury as a mother of five – with multiple homes, race horses, Cadillacs and nannies — has no more idea what it’s like to struggle as a single-mom waitress in Las Vegas or Kansas City than Mitt does. But, with Ann Romney’s help, Republicans quickly turned Rosen’s comment into an attack on all mommies (including Rosen, by the way, who has two children of her own). 

Clearly, what the Romney campaign was trying to do was divert attention from the Republicans’ war against women. Which they succeeded in doing, but only temporarily. Because the Republican war against women is real, deliberate and ongoing. And there’s no denying it.

In one sense, the war on women is nothing new. You can trace it back to decades of Republican opposition to early child education, child care, family and medical leave, equal pay, family planning and every other government program designed to help women. But the current war on women started with successful Republican efforts, over 10 years, to kill what became known as the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was designed to make it easier for women to sue for wage discrimination — and which President Obama finally signed into law in January 2009.

The war has only escalated in recent weeks. Republicans try to overturn new rules making access to contraception part of basic health insurance. Rush Limbaugh calls Sandra Fluke a “slut.” Rick Santorum wants states to be able to make birth control illegal. Senate Republicans vote to let employers decide which medical procedures are covered for female employees, and are now blocking reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. And Mitt Romney won’t say whether or not he’d have signed the Lily Ledbetter Act.

Republicans might claim they’re not waging war on women, but the latest CNN poll shows they’re not fooling women. Asked which candidate is “more in touch with problems facing women today,” Americans rate Obama over Romney, 55 percent to 27. Too bad for Republicans: Women aren’t stupid.

Press is host of the nationally syndicated “Bill Press Show.”