"Attack their strength" is the signature - it's been the core of Rovian strategy through the W years. Kerry didn't see it coming, never came up with an effective response - his campaign considered his credentials as a principled war veteran as unassailable. Kerry's 2004 defeat is probably the best illustration of the "Attack their Strength" tactic, but Rove put it in play repeatedly during the W presidency.
I don't think that Rove was very active during the 2008 campaign, when Republicans were trying to get some distance from the W brand. But I know Rove's going to be politically active in 2012 - Romney's probably keeping the W cabal at arm's length, but Rove's got the Crossroads SuperPac TM.
So when I see a strong pushback from Republicans on the "war on women" meme, that's entirely based on insubstantial frothery, my first thought is that this is another Rovian "Attack their strength" campaign...
Obama's a much stronger campaigner than Kerry, and I think he's handling this pretty well. The absurdity of Republicans critiquing President Obama's support for issues that are relevant to women (granted, I'm speaking as a man) is disorienting, but the "Attack their Strength" tactic has been in play for so long now that Democrats and Progressives are able to respond effectively.
We've seen remarkable pushbacks on women's issues recently - eg Limbaugh, Komen. From a rational perspective it should be the norm that when someone attacks women for asserting the importance of supporting women's health issues, they are informed by everyone who cares about women's health issues that they are malicious, uninformed, cynical exploiters, or ideological sociopaths.
Liberal/progressive supporters during the W years lacked champions. Some took principled stands that were politically risky, but not enough, and those who did, often took hits, based on the "Attack their Strength" tactic. I watched the pattern occur over and over again, and it became infuriating.
Reince Preibus and all the rest of them are trying it again. They'll keep trying it until we train them out of it, just like we still have politicians and their lackeys dog-whistling race issues, and fulminating about the Commies/Socialists/Islamofacists/Gays/Atheists, and so on. They're going to keep doing it for long after it works, kinda like a dog humping your leg. That's how you push the Overton Window.
If you're a dog, and all you've got in your tactical warchest is leg-humping, well that's what you're going to keep on doing. And if you're a human being who doesn't appreciate your leg being humped by obsessed, delusional beings that have no regard for your well-being, you set firm boundaries, you push back, and you stop that dog.
Apologies if I got caught up in the metaphor there, but I can only see a Republican campaign asserting their support for women's issues as a desperate act of leg-humping by an aged, ill-trained poodle that wants to continue getting away with truly unacceptable behavior.