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War on women: GOP backtracking

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in 2010, it gave them power to halt people-helping Democratic proposals. For example, they spent a year and a half blocking renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, which protects American females from battering, stalking, date rape, even domestic murder.

Obstructing VAWA was part of the GOP's much-discussed "war on women," which also includes attempts to cut family nutrition programs, prevent girls from ending pregnancies, slash birth control, reduce day care, and the like.

No wonder that U.S. women lean Democratic and helped return President Obama to the White House last fall. However, the GOP election defeat forced the party to rethink some of its intransigent positions. So Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, finally let the House vote on renewal of VAWA -- hurrah.

In the showdown last week, most Republicans voted no, but a breakaway group of 87 defied their party and helped House Democrats renew the woman-protecting law. We're pleased that West Virginia's two GOP members, Shelley Capito and David McKinley, were among those crossing party lines.

In contrast, every Democrat in the House voted yes (except one who was absent).

Why did the House block the Violence Against Women Act until now? The Kansas City Star says it was because of "Republicans' regrettable tendency to demonize too many issues backed by President Obama and other Democrats."

The Los Angeles Times commented: "There is no rational explanation for why lawmakers took so long to reauthorize this legislation." Maybe Republican leaders switched course as part of "a political strategy to improve the GOP's tarnished image with women voters," the paper said.

Columnist Timothy Egan wrote:

"Until about, oh, just a few hours ago, the Republican House of Representatives had taken the side of the wife-beaters and cowards . . .  . But behold and hurrah: sunlight has found its way into the Neanderthal cave of the Republican House after more than a year and a half of needless delay."

Egan said the GOP has been bound together by half-truths "one crazy idea at a time" -- such as denial of global warming and opposition to gay marriage -- but common sense finally may be penetrating the party.

We're glad that McKinley and Capito jumped to the other side on protecting women.


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