A Healthy Dose of Straight Talk About Hilary Rosen and Ann Romney

Thanks to Linda Hirshman for some plain truth about the extremely loud but totally phony Republican outrage that greeted Hilary Rosen’s statement, in the context of commenting on Mitt Romney holding his wife up as his expert on what American women are thinking, that Ann Romney “has actually never worked a day in her life.”

Rosen was 100% correct, writes Hirshman (emphasis is mine):

Of course stay-at-home moms ”œwork,” women from Barbara Bush to Michelle Obama quickly asserted. All that housekeeping and child care is a lot of work. President Obama, apparently needing more distance from Rosen’s comments, suggested Thursday that candidates’ spouses should be ”œoff limits” altogether.

And surely, taking care of a family is hard work. In Ann Romney’s case, managing the very elaborate Romney establishment ”” five children,three or four houses and two Cadillacs ”” probably takes as much labor as most jobs in the market economy. Within 24 hours, Rosen was apologizing to all those women laboring in their homes for implying that they don’t work.

In the furor, everyone seemed to forget that unpaid mothers and household work are not what the discussion is about. Republicans are not talking about how jobs for stay-at-home moms have decreased under Obama.

They are talking about how paid work for women has suffered. Mitt Romney said this past week that 92 percent of the jobs lost under Obama were lost by women. Erick Erickson, a Republican commentator who joined Rosen on Cooper’s CNN show, argued that the president is responsible for the decline of women’s jobs in the paid workplace.

And work as she may, that’s one place Ann Romney has never been. She has spent her life in the private precincts of the marital workplace, where emotional ties replace the financial norms of the factory or office.

Now, she has emerged to campaign for her husband and to explain to him what women want. ”œI’ve had the fun of being out with my wife the last several days on the campaign trail,” Mitt Romney told Fox Newsthis month. ”œAnd she points out that as she talks to women, they tell her that their number one concern is the economy.”

At a recent campaign event, Romney said he wished his wife were there to help answer a question about female voters. ”œShe says that she’s going across the country and talking with women, and what they’re talking about is the debt that we’re leaving the next generation and the failure of this economy to put people back to work.”

When Ann Romney’s husband, who faces a gender gap in some polls, uses her experience and insight as a megaphone for women’s concern over fewer paid jobs, he mistakenly assumes that all women are fungible. Which was, I take it, Rosen’s original point.

Obama’s assertion that “family should be off-limits” is just as misplaced. Ann Romney made herself a legitimate target for political criticism when she agreed to allow her husband to use her in his public campaign for President of the United States as his expert consultant on American women and the issues they care about. That is a subject Ann Romney is completely incompetent to address — she has no qualifications for claiming expertise or understanding of what American women think and care about.

It’s really unfortunate that Pres. Obama and Democrats in general felt it necessary to accept Republicans’ totally phony, false framing of Hilary Rosen’s comments.

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Kathy Kattenburg

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • you’ve already lost the argument. That’s how the Rightwing has gotten this far – build a straw man and demolish it.
    It’s time for the Left to stop apologizing and refocus the discussion on real issues.

    It is worth remembering that the Founding Fathers were all traitors.

  • …sucking the oxygen out of the debate, keeping folks from addressing more tangible, relevant issues.

    Everything I know about labour dynamics in the United States over the last goodly period says that Romney’s stat is pretty much guaranteed to be “truthy” at best (I rather suspect it’s much more on the bullshit end of the spectrum). Funny how I don’t see in the many thousands of words devoted to the issue any discussion of this – or any other actual policy for that matter.

    The surest way that I know to ensure that the policy that you get sucks – even if your candidate wins – is to let them know that you’re not focusing on it and can be distracted by “reality TV” approaches to politics.

    And folks wonder why the get more of the same.” ~ an actual policy guy

  • Does Obama have the qualifications that Ann Romney doesn’t?

    I’d say that we clearly don’t elect presidents based on their qualifications. Reagan?, Bush (probably did have the qualifications), Clinton?, Bush the Lesser?, Obama?

    We elect based on them saying what we want to hear, and then we make excuses for their lies. Ann Romney has been “talking to women” and they’re concerned about the economy. Maybe Obama should do the same because he doesn’t seem to be concerned about women’s concern over the economy. Which isn’t to say that Mittens will actually help matters as President, because he won’t.

    JPD is right. We get shitty policy because we’re more concerned with who should be saying what and how than actual policy.

  • If I may paraphrase: “How weak must the feminist and liberal movements in America be if they become completely consumed in a debate about the meaning and implications of an offhand comment made by a random person on TV?”

    Seriously, it’s like a cat and a laser pointer–instant, undivided attention on an ultimately immaterial distraction.

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