When Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate, after considering what seemed like only men (Christie, Pawlenty, Portman, Rubio, Jindal etc.), there was a sense that the "era of the woman" was over in the GOP. Whether such an era had ever really existed, in either party, wasn't much examined. What's true is that there does seem to be a shortage of GOP women in consideration for national politics.
Well, gosh, why is that?
Sarah Palin was a successful governor of Alaska when John McCain plucked her from near-obscurity to be his vice presidential candidate. She stumbled some in the spotlight and the media crafted the "she's so stupid" narrative around her. I've had arguments with people who still attribute the Tina Fey line, "I can see Russia from my house," to Sarah Palin—and yet she's the stupid one. Joe Biden behaves like our national clown and yet the "stupid" meme hasn't emerged for him beyond the conservative media.
It's not just Palin either.
Nikki Haley is the youngest governor in the country and the first woman governor of South Carolina. A blogger claimed to have had a sexual affair with her while she was married and the story spread like wildfire. News outlets couldn't get enough of the allegations. The New York Times, CBS News, and all the other major outlets who ignored the fact that John Edwards ran for president while fathering a child with his mistress as his wife suffered with breast cancer, suddenly found these allegations completely fair game.
After all, it wasn't a Democratic man whose name was being sullied, it was a Republican woman and they deserve what they get. After a false story alleging Haley was about to get indicted by the Department of Justice was spread on twitter by prominent reporters, Haley commented, "There will be another one," predicting another attempt to smear her online. "I'm not one that thinks this is going to stop."
It's not. Republican women are in a position of being the punching bag for media who love to hit. Michele Bachmann has her flaws but the shots she took during the election would be unprecedented for the men around her, or for the women of the other party.
There's a sense that women "belong" to the Democrats and choosing to be a Republican leads to a level of outrage and accusation that many people can't cope with. There isn't enough money for most people to deal with the destruction to their reputation and the harm to their family that might befall them if they run for higher office. Don't expect more Republican women to step up to the task. With the way things have gone in the last few years, I'd expect less.