John Laird: Frantic finger-pointing in the losers' locker room

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

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C'mon now, let's not be so critical of Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. At least the boys were half-right. They were right about 300-plus electoral votes.

Ah, yes, the GOP blame blower is running full throttle after President Obama's win. We can only imagine the bedlam in the losers' locker room. The grim scene probably resembles the feud between Alfalfa and Spanky in the He-Man Woman Haters Club.

Gingrich croaked on Wednesday: "We have to recognize that, if you're not going to be competitive with Latinos, with African-Americans, with Native Americans, with Asian-Americans, you're not going to be a successful party."

Perhaps, but Gingrich failed to mention the real problem for the GOP. Al Cardenas came a bit closer to describing it. The leader of the American Conservative Union surmised: "Our party needs to realize that it's too old and too white and too male, and it needs to figure out how to catch up with the demographics of the country before it's too late."

As an old white male, I probably should take offense to that remark. But as a connoisseur of accurate analyses, I have to agree with the guy, especially his reference to the gender gap.

The Republicans' colossal cluelessness about women continues to hang around their neck like a testosterone-infused millstone. Yes, the GOP has been shunned more by blacks (93 percent voted for Obama) and by Hispanics (71 percent voted for Obama) than by women (55 percent voted for Obama). But remember three things:

• Women typically make up more than half of the electorate.

• Of all the idiotic statements Republicans made during this campaign -- the kind of bone-headed banalities that send voters fleeing in fright -- most of them were about women and rape. About a half-dozen Republican men swaggered onto the national stage with macho grandiloquence to make Neanderthalian pronouncements about women and rape. And all of them lost last Tuesday. They can spend their new idle hours pontificating about "legitimate" rape, advocating forced trans-vaginal probes and wondering why they lost.

• The GOP hierarchy refuses to realize that ignoring women, Hispanics and blacks not only offends those people, it also offends many old, white men who embrace diversity and who wince at the thought of living, working and playing exclusively among old, white men. Many of us find our own demographic group to be regressive and stale, at times even dour, paranoid and unsociable.

Murray got the job done

In other groups, though, we see hopeful, visionary achievers. One of last week's top achievers was a woman from Washington state who wasn't on any ballot. As chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Sen. Patty Murray faced a daunting task: Try to keep Republicans from seizing control of the Senate. The national mood was careening rightward, and 23 Democratic Senate seats were on the line, with only 10 GOP seats up for grabs.

Republicans were licking their chops. On Wednesday morning, they were licking their wounds.

"Every single Democratic (Senate) incumbent won re-election last night," Murray properly boasted on Wednesday. Democrats now hold a 54-45 advantage in the Senate, and that lead could strengthen if independent Angus King of Maine decides to caucus with the Democrats.

Murray also was understandably excited about the number of women in the Senate increasing to a record 20, including Republican Deb Fischer of Nebraska.

Hanna Rosin made this observation in a piece written for CNN: "Workplace studies from the 1970s showed that, when women reached a third of an office population, their presence no longer seemed unusual. The Senate will be one-fifth female. We're not there yet, but we're getting close."

Which brings us back to the warning by Cardenas, the GOP leader: His party needs to get a clue about the "demographics of the country before it's too late."