Speaker Boehner takes small step in right direction on women

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Speaker of the House Republican John Boehner reacts

Speaker of the House Republican John Boehner reacts to an unshaven member of the news media, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. (Dec. 5, 2013) Photo Credit: EPA

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Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and

Freud asked, "What do women want?" John Boehner has a follow-up: What do women want to hear?

Apparently, "legitimate rape" isn't too high on the list.

Those two words sunk Todd Akin's Republican Senate bid last year in Missouri. And before you knew it, "Republican War on Women" had become a potent Democratic slam almost everywhere.

Now Boehner and the National Republican Congressional Committee are offering remedial courses for their 2014 male candidates in Talking Across the Gender Line.

"Gentlemen!" the speaker of the House seemed to plead. "Quit shooting yourselves in the same foot you just put in your mouth!" What he really said was, "Some of our members just aren't as sensitive as they ought to be." But no one missed his point.

Of course, cross-gender communication wasn't easy in high school. And Republican politicians aren't the only ones who stumble in adult life. Just ask any man who's ever been asked by a woman: "Haven't you been listening to a single word I said?"

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The tutoring session won't be easy. A lot of this stuff works by instinct, not rule. Despite Boehner's finest efforts, sounding smooth around the opposite sex requires more than a few key phrases and a stack of index cards.

It takes a heart that is open and flexible. It takes tone that isn't overtly Neanderthal. And it takes a roster of candidates and policies women might actually support.

But at least the speaker is trying now.


1. "I'm contra contraception."


2. "The whole glass ceiling? How 'bout we just replace a couple of tiles?"

3. "Don't be Ms-erable!"

4. "Roe v. Wading into Dangerous Waters"

5."Legitimate Deadbeat Dad"
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THE NEWS IN SONG: A man might get confused: "What a Woman Wants" by Lari White, tinyurl.com/freudboehner





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Here's what's most admirable about Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, regardless of the votes she casts or the segments of the electorate she pleases or not. Twenty years and one day ago, her husband was killed and her son wounded by a maniac on the LIRR. She didn't get bitter. She got busy, devoting her life to changing a world that had visited such a horror on her. Whatever the feisty LI congresswoman might do or say, no one can ever take that away.

Email ellis@henican.com

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