There has been some surprise that the Republicans and movement conservatives let themselves get dragged down by the whole contraception ‘controversy’*. But this shouldn’t have come as a shock at all: the Republicans have never been especially clever. Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, or, yes, Rush Limbaugh are not subtle. What they are is utterly unconstrained by what most people consider appropriate.
Imagine you’re walking down the street, and some guy punches you in the face and takes your wallet. Suppose the next time you see him, he does the exact same thing. So the third time you see him, you might want to do something. Cross the street. Call the cops. Or perhaps do unto him before he does unto you.
Regardless of your choice in strategy, I don’t think anyone would consider the strategy of punching people in the face and stealing their wallets to be the sign of a criminal mastermind. It’s actually a pretty stupid strategy, unless people don’t do something about it. Then it works like gangbusters. This strategy, such as it is, does require a certain willingness to do something awful (actually, two somethings, the violence and the theft). Most people thankfully wouldn’t do this.
In other words, the whole birth control idiocy is par for the course for Limbaugh et alia. It’s just that it’s so obviously mean-spirited and stupid–most women have used birth control (and their partners are often thankful for that)–that there’s no ignoring it. It hit too many people too close to home. But in terms of the viciousness, and in this case the misogyny, it’s not any different than what Limbaugh or any of the other component of the Mighty Conservative Wurlitzer have been playing for the last two decades (or longer).
It’s just this time enough people finally are doing something about it.
*The need for contraception is no more controversial than evolution, which is to say, not at all.