A lucid and passionate insider's indictment of the Republican party's misogynist political strategies and, even more valuable, an explanation of how they evolved.
Political consultant Melich is one of a dying breed of battle- weary Republican feminist activists. Here she describes Republican women's struggles to keep their party open to women and isues such as child care and reproductive freedom. Melich also recounts the party's calculated far-rightward move. Republican male leaders initially held widely divergent views on these issues (Goldwater's 1964 platforom even included a women's rights plank), but two events--the backlash against Roe v. Wade and the failure to pass the ERA--gave momentum to antifeminist forces; by the 1980s, antifeminism became such an important part of Republican strategy that it was virtually impossible for moderate opinions to get a hearing. All this despite the fact that polls repeatedly showed Americans moving to the right on economics but remaining moderate on social issues. Melich's discussion of how prominent women with feminist views were edged out of Reagan's and Bush's administrations is powerful, as are her descriptions of moderates selling out to extremists, first on ERA, then on abortion rights. Particularly insightful is her analysis of the infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad campaign; aside from race-baiting, she points out, the Bush campaign was also trying to appear pro-woman by making Dukakis look weak on rapists. The puzzling thing is that, though Melich writes articulately about her dedication to the women's movement, she is far less specific when she describes her Republican commitment. Though she implies that she has moderate conservative views on fiscal and foreign policy, readers will find inexplicable Melich's dedication to a party unresponsive to some of her most deeply held convictions.
Nevertheless, Melich's history is thorough and her rage well substantiated at every turn.