These days we hear that there is a war on women, a war on workers, a war on contraception, a war on science, a war on christmas, a war on school choice, a war on religion and on and on...
Last summer at Netroots Nation I watched Kali Joy Gray (a Daily Kos front-pager) interview White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. Her snarky juvenile approach to him and the administration turned me off completely. But during part of the conversation, she made great hay out of berating him because the President hasn't acknowledged that there's a "war on women." You see, it doesn't matter what the President does to actually support women unless he uses those words. It all makes me wonder what's behind the need to hear them.
In the case of what Gray was doing at NN, its all about a loyalty test to demonstrate whether one is a true enough ally. The way to do that is to commit oneself verbally to the battle to defeat the enemy on a particular chosen cause. Folks who do this have already decided where those battle lines lie and what their only concept of victory will look like. The point is that once one agrees to the idea that there is a war going on, your comrades in arms will expect you to adhere to those battle lines to reach the only victory they can imagine. Failure to do so in lock-step means you're a traitor to the cause. Any conversation with the enemy to reach compromise or a solution that leads to anything other than the total defeat of your opponent is considered appeasement.
In other words, governing in a democratic republic becomes impossible. So it should come as no surprise that the Obama administration was never going to sign on to the idea that there is a war on women (or any other war for that matter)...it would hand them the shackles with which to defeat themselves in actually making progress.
If you flip this to a metaphor for the wars the Republicans are identifying these days, you see exactly why they're losing politically. In an effort to determine who their true allies are, they're engaged in purity tests where only the true extremists are acceptable.
In the end, whether its the right or the left identifying new wars to be fought, the real goal in using this analogy is to rally the troops into providing eyeballs and web site clicks. In other words, its a way to ramp up the rhetoric and provide red meat to your base. As such, its effective as a cheap marketing trick. But as a political tool...just dumb.