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?"
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.
PHRASES TO AVOID
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"
ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Did anyone hear a gunshot? No? Then why did a student find an empty shell casing in the hallway at Commack Middle School? . . . Have we finally found graffiti worth cheering for? East End artists are turning leftover campaign signs into snarky guerrilla canvases, asking questions like, "Why are your monstrous signs OK?" . . . Now that Billy Joel's announced he's "coming home" for monthly shows at Madison Square Garden, how 'bout performing a little closer to his actual home? Does The Paramount have any free nights? The Stephen Talkhouse? . . . Can you hear me, New Hyde Park? Well, what did you expect after Andrew Cuomo vetoed a Port Authority noise study for the neighborhoods around JFK? . . . Has demolition really begun at Inisfada, the 87-room Gatsby-era North Hills mansion and then-Jesuit retreat house? Now we're all supposed to cheer while a developer throws up another 33-acre subdivision? . . . Have you registered your vacant home in Brookhaven? Supervisor Ed Romaine has 270 on the boarded-up roster. Who's he missed? . . . An anesthesiologist from Jericho won a $6.2 million Lotto jackpot? Wait, he's an anesthesiologist? What does he need $6.2 million for? Ask the charities about to share in his windfall . . . Are Hercules and Leo "legal persons"? That's at the core of an animal-rights lawsuit involving two young male research chimps at Stony Brook University. Scientists say we shared ancestors 5 million years ago.
THE NEWS IN SONG: A man might get confused: "What a Woman Wants" by Lari White, tinyurl.com/freudboehner
LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK:
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.
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