At first I didn't pay it much attention but the dust was so thick that I couldn't avoid it any longer. Hilary Rosen's comment about Ann Romney “never having worked a day in her life” was jumped on by Romney-ites as though Michael Jordan had been given a half dozen free throws after some perceived foul.
Indeed, the Romneys inexplicably and publicly termed the whole event as a “gift” from the Democrats. Roger Ailes and his Fox News Channel, the unofficial voice of the New Republican Party, worked the event over for three solid days, devoting 100% of its coverage to those mean, nasty Democrats and their “insiders” who have no respect for motherhood itself. At last, they had an issue around which they could rally, as well as pillory the opposition which up to this point had been standing on the sidelines watching the GOP tear itself apart. Even the liberal talking heads were saying that Rosen's comment was “ill-advised” and that she had had one of those “Oops!” moments. The Prez himself publicly took her to task, saying spouses should be off limits. But should they be?
If a presidential candidate's spouse takes the podium or hits the hustings in support of her husband, should she be free to say what she wants and not be held accountable? Ann Romney, explaining (in front of a television camera) her “choice” to be a mother rather than a professional of some kind, admonished Democrats to respect a woman's choice for motherhood rather than a more - well - let's say "non-motherhood" lifestyle.
When I heard that comment, it raised my eyebrows a bit, because it begged a huge question: Should a woman's “choice” be respected only to her choice of lifestyle or should the respect perhap even carry over into other areas like, for example, the control of her physical body? Once again, I thought, the Romneys, husband and wife, simply demonstrated how out of touch with ordinary Americans they are; how they just flat got it wrong. They are creatures of ineffable privilege and have been such for their entire married lives. “They,” as Scott Fitzgerald so famously observed, “are different than you and me.” And in gaff after gaff, the Romneys have stepped in pile after pile of political doo-doo, from comments about Ann's Cadillacs to the candidate's enjoyment he derives from firing people who don't perform to his expectations, to his determination to “do away with Planned Parenthood.”
So, at the risk of firing another shot in the “class war” that liberals are always being accused of conducting, let us examine the intent and whether Rosen's comment was germane.
First of all, mothering is hard, starting with the moment a baby slips from his mother's womb and takes his or her first breath. The next two plus decades are totally devoted to the successful upbringing of a child. And if you have more than one, start adding more years to the job. Nevertheless, “hard” is, or should be, a relative word. But conservatives by nature, though, aren't concerned with the grays of life; only the blacks and the whites of it. Nevertheless, dear Annie Romney did raise five strapping young men, all apparently quite successful in their own right, four of the five having gone to BYU, and then grad school, like Dad, at Harvard. They are a doctor, an investor, a music business exec, etc. You know, all the good stuff.
But was it “hard” for Ann Romney? Clearly, the Romneys have done a masterful job with their kids. And I'm sure there were the usual crises along the way but they seem to have dealt with them very well.
But I wondered, in listening to Annie describe her “choice” to be a mom, whether it would have been any less hard if her husband had been a wage earner rather than a takeover specialist and scion of his own father's fortune, and simply left her to raise her children on her own. I wondered how good a job Annie would have done if she had waited tables in a Boston diner, working for tips, rather than tell the servants that it was okay to serve dinner. I wondered, even, if Annie had ever done a load of laundry, or had to deal with a car that needed a brake job and discovered she didn't have the scratch to pay for one. I thought about how well she would have handled having to stand in line at Planned Parenthood so she could get a pap test because she had no health insurance. (Would she even bother?) I wondered if she ever, in her entire life as a mom, worried about making the rent. Had she ever filled out a Form 1040?
I don't think so.
So, you see, the intent of Hilary Rosen's comment, despite her syntax, was spot on. Ann Romney never has had to work a day in her life when she's compared to the 98% of woman who rear children without the benefit of enormous wealth. When you have a $350 million dollar fortune, five luxurious homes scattered around the country, from ski chalets to beach homes, it must be pretty hard to understand the stress of countless millions of women and their families who struggle every day just to get by.
Time after time, the Romneys have exposed their total lack of understanding of the working class. The campaign will go on and they will continue to make off-the-script remarks which will convince no one that they do. Mitt and Annie are unattached to the real world. They live in some other insulated place about which the vast majority of us can only wonder what it must be like to be a part of.
Ann and Mitt may think the Democrats handed them a campaign gift but it probably will not make the papers and news shows that most of us simply agree, quietly, with Rosen.