Although I use it during the day mostly to promote Patheos writers, after hours I consider Twitter to be something of a virtual pub; it’s a place to wind down, engage in some casual conversation, yell about baseball and then say goodnight.
Last evening, I tootled in to find the tweets flying fast and um, furiously. “Wha’d I miss?” I asked someone.
It seems lobbyist and Dem operative Hilary Rosen had gone on CNN last night and spoken unwisely not once, but twice, first declaring that the Democrat party had never, in any way, ever said that the GOP had declared a “war on women”, and that the GOP had just made that up (a statement so patently and demonstrably dishonest that I couldn’t stop myself from asking Rosen, “no, really, you said that? You really did?”).
Then Rosen, noting that Mitt Romney had referred to his wife Ann as someone whose opinion on women and economics he trusted, said:
What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, “Well, my wife tells me what women really care about are economic issues.” And, “When I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.” Guess what? His wife has never actually worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing—in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and how do—why we worry about their future.
There is irony in Rosen sneering that Ann Romney knows nothing about working women, while she, Rosen, supports an administration that pays its female employees less than men. But I digress.
Rosen seems to truly not get why people, especially women (both working and at-home) took offense at this. In Rosen’s shallow world, where formal credentials matter to an excessive degree, and “what you do” matters far more than the person you actually are, Rosen’s remarks were seen for the rather elitist, class-warfare cues they were, (those rich Republicans are so out of touch with the struggling proletariat) but more importantly they brought back memories of Hillary Clinton saying she wasn’t “some little woman standing by her man, baking cookies…” and of Teresa Heinz-Kerry’s wondering if Laura Bush had ever worked a “real” job and the understanding that Michelle Obama had a $300,000 a-year job created for her out of whole cloth, and then discontinued when she left for the White House.
One highly doubts that if either Bill Clinton, or John Kerry or Barack Obama had suggested he looked to his wife to get a sense of women’s economic concerns, Rosen would have for a moment thought those women lacked expertise in the realities of raising a family and earning a paycheck. And yet, Hillary Clinton, while she surely worked, had a governor’s mansion and a lot of help; she was never driving kids to soccer in a beat-up car; she probably never had to figure out how to stretch a pound of chopped meat through supper and the next day’s lunch while wondering if she had enough gas — at $4 a gallon — to get to work the next day; Teresa Heinz Kerry, of course, also had the help — the servants, cooks, chauffeurs — and Michelle Obama’s paychecks and circumstances hardly relate to the realities of most working women.
None of these women have lived the “reality” of most working mothers, any more than Mrs. Romney has. None of them.
Defending herself on Twitter, Rosen wrote:
“I’ve nothing against @AnnRomney. I just don’t want Mitt using her as an expert on women struggling $ to support their family. She isn’t.”
Well, excuse me, but I really must ask, how the hell does Rosen know what Ann Romney does or does not know? Does Mrs. Romney staying home mean her curiosity and intellect were drained from her, and she therefore reads nothing, explores nothing, studies nothing?
Ann Romney has at her disposal precisely the same economic records and reports that the privileged Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Kerry or Mrs. Obama would use to educate themselves on the issue, of “struggling working moms”. For all Rosen knows, Mrs. Romney has, through observation and study, become a freaking genius on the economic realities of working women, because learning is not confined to classrooms (in only the “correct” schools) and human people have the capacity to understand a great deal, and even to become wise on some issues, because they are interested and curious, and because they think.
Of course, I don’t know what Ann Romney knows or doesn’t know, either — but as a woman who preferred to give up a salary in order to stay home with her kids, even though it meant rolling coin for haircuts, I’m willing to give her a benefit of a doubt. I’m willing to actually find out what Romney knows before sneering at her.
Because — unlike Rosen, or her favored women – I’ve actually lived the life of both struggling at-home mother and struggling working mom, I am inclined to take offense at the notion that a woman who finds her first vocation in child-rearing has surrendered her intellect, and therefore has nothing to say to the room. And make no mistake, that is precisely the sentiment that rests at the heart of Rosen’s remarks — an ugly disdain wholly at odds with the standard feminist rhetoric about the dignity of women and their choices.
The truth is, for women like Rosen, increasingly beholden to a utilitarian point of view, a woman’s worth is predicated on her title, her accomplishments and how far she has penetrated what used to be masculine strongholds; there is no real respect, no authentic valuation for women — either the well-off or the struggling, the well-educated or not — who have judged full-time motherhood to be a job equal in importance (and more necessary and socially relevant) than being an attorney or a lobbyist. Rosen betrays the truth of it in a hasty clarification written last night:
I have nothing against Ann Romney. She seems like a nice lady who has raised nice boys, struggled with illness, and handles its long-term effects with grace and dignity.
The breathtaking condescension! “A nice lady who raised nice boys…grace and dignity.” Let’s just pat Ann Romney on the head and then get back to talking about real women, shall we? M’kay?
As President Obama might say, “let me be perfectly clear”: Hilary Rosen may not formally work for the Obama campaign, but last night she was shilling for it. Days after our insecure narcissist-in-chief felt compelled to do he-man pushups on the b-ball court, Rosen tried to verbally emasculate Mitt Romney by suggesting he is “hiding behind his wife’s skirt”. Because, again, empty Ann Romney can’t possibly have anything to offer the world but her baby-maker.
Rosen wants to serve the Obama campaign’s determined efforts at class-warfare. She wants to portray Ann Romney as out-of-touch and elitist — a woman who could luxuriate in staying at home to raise her own children because she’s rich — but in doing so, she completely denigrates those of us who sacrificed in order to raise our kids; she denigrates all the at-home mothers whose names are on file with the school nurse as the “Emergency Contact” for the kids with working/traveling moms. She denigrates the at-home mothers who often — while driving a van full of kids, not all her own, to and from practices and lessons — act almost as part-time wives for the likes of Rosen. What a bunch of “nice ladies” with “nice children” and empty pretty heads. If Rosen were a man, she’d be a chauvinist pig.
Last night on Twitter, it seems the at-home mothers and their husbands, and many working women who are tired of “sisterhood” being revealed as something narrow, provincial and closed, signaled that they’ve had enough of the fakery and disdainful condescension from their elite “betters.” Like Ann Romney, they rejected it.
And the Obama administration noticed.
There is an art to good politics. We’re not seeing much of it, these days.
As I noted in the combox, below, while I was writing this, I kept thinking about Jackie Kennedy — now there is a woman of privilege (and a Democratic heroine) who probably could not relate to the concerns of the working class, but she was appreciated (and is still appreciated) precisely for the qualities of grace, elegance and class that have become so rare in our political folk. Jackie’s qualities were understood as valuable, and Jackie’s example was considered worth imitating. And recall, Jackie Kennedy had this to say about parenthood: “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much”
I wonder if, in our harsh, crude times, we don’t need another Jackie Kennedy. Would Mrs. Romney maybe fit the bill? Discuss!
It seems Mrs. Romney has, in fact, worked outside the home, though perhaps not for real money:
As an adult, Mrs. Romney turned her talents as a chef into something of a small business in Massachusetts. She and a friend held cooking classes for local foodies, according to her son Josh, who described the sessions in a 2007 interview with The New York Times.
Beyond that, Mrs. Romney has held a number of posts with Boston-area charities and advocacy groups. She was, for example, a director at Best Friends, an organization focused on inner-city girls, and a volunteer instructor at the Mother Caroline Academy, a multicultural middle school in Boston.
Those stints, however intensive, time-consuming or lucrative, appear to belie the sweeping declaration by the Democratic operative, Hilary Rosen, that Mrs. Romney “never worked a day in her life.”
Rosen makes apologetic statement and writes: “Let’s declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.”
Tina Korbe says Rosen still doesn’t get it
NY Daily News: Who is Hilary Rosen
Legal Insurrection: Legal Insurrection: Consistency: Rosen on Romney, Sarah Palin and Sandra Fluke
Ann Althouse: Who is more out-of-touch?
Hot Air: More Rosen Consistency
Good analysis from Tina Korbe
Breitbart: Rosen Doubles Down
Ed Driscoll: with a roundup!
Instapundit: Dems waging war on everyone?
Obama 2008: “Lay off my wife” (and he was right)
Romney Campaign: Demands correction on women’s job losses