A new breed of Dixie chicks

September 07, 2006 by barbara

by barbara

There's a crimson tide rising. It has absolutely nothing to do with football, and it's trending blue.

According to an AP story today, "President (George) Bush's once-solid relationship with Southern women is on the rocks."

Just for starters, Georgian Barbara Knight, who has been a life-long Republican (she's 66), proclaimed that "history will show (Bush) to be the worst president since Ulysses S. Grant." See, even after all these years, Grant is still the South's number one poster boy for perdition. Nationally, he is arguably among the U.S. presidents most likely to be voted off the island. But his stock in trade is rising as George moves to the head of the line.

Looking ahead to the election of a congressman in her district, Knight says, "I'm going to go for the moderate, and these days that tends to be Democrats." And she's not alone.

Sandy Rubin (age 39), another Georgian who voted for Bush, said she, too, is likely to vote for the Democrat in her area's congressional race. She said the GOP's focus on issues that appeal to social conservatives, such as gay marriage and abortion, have turned her off.

This trend away from Bush and the GOP is something for women north of the Mason-Dixon line to celebrate. Especially those who cringe at the mere mention of George Bush's name (did I ever mention that I'm one of them?).

Turns out that anger about George's war in Iraq and the whole direction of this country has drifted into Dixie. According to the AP story, Knight said, "I never did understand why we went into Iraq and didn't instead clean up the mess in Afghanistan first." The story goes on to say:

The movement of some Southern women away from the Republican Party tracks with national poll results showing that women have become more disillusioned with the war and were more likely than men to list the conflict as the important issue facing the country.

Nationally, the AP-Ipsos poll found that only 28 percent of women approve of Bush's handling of the war. Bush did better in the South, but only slightly '" just 32 percent of women in the region said they approve of his handling of the war.

Recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll results showed that three out of five Southern women surveyed said they planned to vote for a Democrat in the midterm elections. With control of the Senate and House in the balance, such a seismic shift could have dire consequences for the GOP. Woo hoo!! Bring on the dire consequences.

The news is not uniformly good, however. There's still the matter of the 40% who have not yet crossed over. Here's what AP has to say about that:

Teresa Cranford, 39, also of Macon, said her support for Bush was lukewarm in 2004, but she ultimately voted for him so he could finish the job in Iraq. As the death toll has risen, so has her discomfort. "I'm a mother and that makes me think differently about it," Cranford said.

Lynn Hamilton, 44, said she still supports Bush even though her backing for the ongoing war has waned. "As a mother you worry, 'Am I going to lose my baby boy?'" said the Gray, Ga., resident. "A mother's view about war is often going to be a lot different than dad's is."

Neither Cranford nor Hamilton has decided how they plan to vote in the midterm elections, although neither ruled out voting for a Democrat.

"I'm not a straight party-line Republican anymore," Cranford said.
Still, some Southern women remain stalwart supporters of the president and the Republican Party. At a watermelon festival in Chickamauga, in the mountains of northwest Georgia, substitute teacher Clydeen Tomanio said she remains committed to the party she's called home for 43 years.

"There are some people, and I'm one of them, that believe George Bush was placed where he is by the Lord," Tomanio said. "I don't care how he governs, I will support him. I'm a Republican through and through." (BIG sigh '" mine.)

All right. I'm not going to get into Flawed Theology 101 here. Suffice it to say, there are minds forever closed to fact. Let me just mention that the place where George Bush dwells right now is a boatload of trouble. For himself, for this country, and for Clydeen Tomanio. I think we are not called to go down with his ship of state, such as it is.

Maritime metaphors aside, I am growing more hopeful. The GOP (warning: bird metaphor incoming) has fouled its own nest so completely that many of its partisans can no longer endure the stench. They may not love Democrat candidates, but they view the alternative with growing discomfort and skepticism. With good reason.

You know, it would be nice if Barbara Knight and Sandy Rubin really, really liked us. Maybe in the fullness of time.

Meanwhile, welcome, sisters. Welcome.

Posted in