I was out of the office on a reporting trip yesterday when the comments about Ann Romney by someone named Hilary Rosen morphed into the ludicrously named “mommy wars.” I call the appellation ludicrous for a couple of reasons — in part because it’s condescending, but chiefly because my reporting trip concerned programs to help soldiers returning from combat who are physically wounded or struggling to reconnect with their families. So, I’m less patient than ever with phrases such as “mommy wars” and the “war on women.”
Rosen has apologized for saying Ann Romney “hasn’t worked a day in her life” and said, as a mother, she can appreciate the work involved in being a stay-at-home mom. I have no reason to doubt her sincerity about that particular point — if only because, it seems obvious to me, the work ethic of stay-at-home moms wasn’t her real point. Her real point remains unretracted, and it is also repugnant.
The key part of Rosen’s original point can be found in the lead-up to the sentence that caused the controversy:
With respect to economic issues, I think actually that Mitt Romney is right, that ultimately women care more about the economic well-being of their families and the like. But he doesn’t connect on that issue either. What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues and when I listen to my wife that’s what I’m hearing.
I don’t think Rosen was trying to trivialize the work of stay-at-home moms. She was arguing that the Romneys, because they’re wealthy, aren’t capable of understanding the concerns of women, regardless of their vocation. She sure as heck hasn’t apologized for that. In fact, it was seconded by the president of NOW last night.
The obvious implication is that Ann Romney isn’t a Real Woman, which is of a piece with the prevalent liberal belief that the only authentic belief for Real Women is that abortion should be legal — and, since January, that contraception should be completely and universally subsidized. Or similar thoughts concerning what Real racial and ethnic minorities believe. But here’s how Mitt Romney recently spoke the thought that Rosen paraphrased:
My wife has the occasion, as you know, to campaign on her own and also with me, and she reports to me regularly that the issue women care about most is the economy.
So, while I presume Mitt Romney would argue his wife does in fact understand women’s concerns on her own, all he was really saying was that his wife talks to other women, and they tell her they’re concerned about the economy. Shocking!
But Rosen either a) believed this “reporting” beyond Ann Romney’s capability (hey, she’s never worked a day as a journalist, either!) or b) thought it would be good politics to misrepresent what Mitt Romney said about his wife in order to take yet another Democratic shot at the Romneys’ authenticity.
I think we can safely assume the answer is b), in which case we can also safely say that — despite the immediate efforts of the White House and Obama campaign officials to distance themselves from Rosen’s “never worked a day in her life” remark — her underlying point was entirely consistent with Democratic talking points.
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– By Kyle Wingfield