Hilary Rosen, Ann Romney and the Credentialists – UPDATES

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.”

If by “substance” you mean the real phony war, which is the Democrat’s utterly fabricated “GOP war on women”, then I have to say is: Dear Ms. Rosen, You guys, first!

Tina Korbe says Rosen still doesn’t get it

Glenn Reynolds links — thanks, kindly!

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

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • Barbara B.

    I was a stay-at-home mother to five children. We weren’t “rich” monetarily, but the kids are rich in memories of time spent together roaming our rural acreage. My four daughters must have found *something* worthwhile there, as they are all stay-at-home moms, themselves. They tough it out on one income, and make whatever sacrifices that are necessary. Vacations? Uh-uh. Fancy cars? Uh-uh. Well-educated young women? Absolutely. I couldn’t be prouder of them, and love them more for the choices they made in raising their families.

    It is hard staying home to raise your children, but if it is your priority, I believe that you can still make it happen. I don’t think people like Rosen have a clue. The whole comment about “luxury” made my blood boil. Talk about demeaning!

  • richard40

    This is the typical radical feminist point of view. Only women who work at a job outside the home are worth considering. Housewives are worthless, I mean how can they live with themselves just working for a husband and children.

    Fortunately there are still plenty of husewives in this country who might resent that point of view. And even many of the ones that work outside the home, if they also have kids, will never regard raising children as not doing real work.

  • Peggy m

    Oh, thank you for this commentary, Anchoress. You are spot on.

  • Mark Greta

    My recently lost wife Greta would have been boiling over on this topic. She was a mom and also ran a very successful business. But what she would have wondered more about it the Obama comment “And we didn’t have the luxury for her not to work.”

    Now if the White House wants us to believe that they are in touch with the women of this country, I wonder how many working moms have a husband who graduated from Harvard Law and is pulling down over a hundred grand easy a year understands why Michelle did not have the choice to stay at home with her daughters. But even more, it raises the question of why an articulate African American with a Harvard Law degree could not be successful enough to allow his wife this choice. During that time period, about every major company I know was straining to find minorities with this type of background. If they saw being home with their girls as something important for “her not to have to work”, Barrack if he had any skills at all should have been able to make that happen with ease. Since we could then assume he had not skills in making their family economy better, it might explain why he has been so unable to make the countries economy work better. Maybe he ran up family debt so high that they really did not have the luxury as he has done with our debt. Now we should all be able to understand what Michelle found out after marrying Obama, that he is lame at fixing any economic problem or addressing real needs. Seems like this should tee up well for a debate question from Romney.

  • LisaB

    “You have to ask why there are so many more working mothers than there were in past times. Not because they are “liberated”, that’s for sure.”

    That’s the way the Statists like women; how better to take over the children with year round schooling, free breakfasts and lunches, and after-school care. It’s no wonder Rosen is angry Ann Romney didn’t fall in line by making the “right” choice and hand her children over to the State. “Arbeit macht frei”

  • Peggy m

    By the way, Jackie Kennedy did have a paying job—she was the “Inquiring Camera Girl” for the Washington Times-Herald newspaper. Her responsibilities included accosting law-abiding citizens on the streets of Washington, DC, photographing them and asking impertinent questions. She then massaged their answers into a column.

    I disagree with some commenters who say that only well-to-do people can afford to be stay-at-home mothers. Many non-wealthy women do it, willing to sacrifice for years. It can require a truly counter-cultural lifestyle. You have to ask what matters to you. Where are your priorities? We were never materialistic, and that helped.

  • John

    >>> 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.

    Unbelievably well said; the whole thing.

    They can pertend to care about women’s choices all they want, but in the end with the left it’s always a size contest: Whose paycheck is bigger? Whose title is fancier? Respect for normal human beings, like stay-at-home moms, is nowhere on their radar. But they are reminded once every four years that they have to pretend to respect woman’s choices (while snickering with their elitist academia friends the whole time).

    THAT is the real war on women.

  • Peggy COffey

    I was a stay at home mom for our 3 children and when I started making noise about going to work,my then 6 year old son told me he loved coming home and having me there when he got home. He said his friends mothers’ were not there and they were on their own. He liked the idea of seeing me when he got home. His older sisters just thought I should be home for them. I have a masters degree, but I didn’t go back to work until my son was in high school. My husband and I rearranged our priorities so I could stay home with them. I do not regret it. They think they had something great with a mom at home, I think I was the one that had the best deal.

  • Joseph

    Well, I’m not a stay-at-home mom, but I can say from memory that my own stay-at-home mom, with six kids, worked harder than any career woman. It seems the heretofore unknown Hilary Rosen has taken the torch from Rush Limbaugh a month ago. Only Rush was giving his own personal views on his own program, while Rosen was there to represent the Democratic point of view. She has become a campaign cash cow for Romney and Republicans in general.

  • http://www.friendsofportia.blogspot.com Judith L

    Great blog, great comments! Additionally, I’ve been thinking that every nanny, every day care worker should be offended by Ms. Rosen’s remarks. What she said, by implication, demeaned their work, too.

  • Sparkey

    Back in 1993 after my wife completed her PhD she decided to stay home with our then two, now three children. We sacrificed new cars & dream vacations for her to raise our children on my income that is significantly less that what Barack & Michelle felt they couldn’t raise their two on. You can imagine the emotion I’ve listened to tonight.

    It really comes down to this, in the progressive mind you really don’t have a choice how to live your life, they know better than you do. After all, you are not an individual with your own hopes, dreams, and talents. You are a faceless entity in the blob of some identity group that is supposed to behave in accordance to their preconceived notions and dictates.

    Even their supposed campaign for civil rights was really all about set of control.

  • Bro AJK
  • http://www.themommypsychologist.com themommypsychologist

    I want to steer clear of the politics surrounding the statement. However, it has certainly unleashed the age old mommy war of whose job is the hardest. It’s the working moms versus the stay at home moms. I think we need to change our thinking a bit in regard to this debate. It’s a classist problem. What do I mean by this? I go into detail here: http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/04/12/mommy-wars-whose-job-is-more-difficult/

    Feel free to check it out if interested.

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  • fiestamom

    Like others, I think I’m more offended by Obama’s (obviously premeditated statement) that staying home is a “luxury.” I stay home with my 4 children, and we do without a lot of “luxuries”. My kids don’t go to kindermusic, preschool etc. One of my kids had to give up their only extracurricular activity this year b/c with the rising gas prices and groceries, etc. we can’t afford that either. I found a Goodwill store in an affluent area and I buy most of my kids’ clothes there. (I admit I have fun doing that, I love finding deals!) We have been saving for 2 years to go on a family vacation, and not sure if we’re going to be able to with $4 gal. gas. If I worked, it would definitely help financially, but right now my kids need me home. I am so thankful that my husband still has a job, b/c I have stay at home mom friends whose husbands have lost their job(s) recently. I have a niece who is a stay at home mom and her husband’s salary is less than $30K. They struggle, but that’s the choice they made. I’m pretty sure they don’t have *any* luxuries. There are a LOT Of days that I miss working, and contributing financially to our family, it’s just going to have to wait.

    I haven’t noticed any sniping from SAHM’s towards working mothers here, just outrage at another calculated comment from Obama and the democrats meant to divide Americans.

  • doc

    Rosen’s statement can be translated thusly:

    No self-respecting woman can be a Republican.

    That’s it. Just an attempt to shame women into voting for Democrats. It is funny how quickly she got tossed under the bus when the internals showed how her statement played out.

  • David K. Monroe

    Isn’t it ironic that people on the left, who generally disdain capitalism and sometimes work toward its elimination, can only value the experience of women who participate in the “capitalist rat race” of career life?

  • Chuck

    I was wondering does Hilary’s statement includ Ethel Kennedy, or Rose Kennedy?

  • Bertha

    Totally agree with Peggy about Bill Donohue’s comment about adopting children.
    He said: “Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own.” Disgusting. We “had” to adopt kids and it is an insult to suggest that I am somehow not really a legitimate mom because they are not “my own”. Being a conscientious parent is hard work whether you birth the children or not. I stopped listening to the Catholic League years ago because of this kind of stupid commentary from Donohue.

  • http://dailycaller.com/dc-trawler Jim Treacher

    “You need to stop fighting this phony war we started, now that we’re losing it.”

  • One Hand Clapping

    Well articulated, Ms. Scalia!! Am I the only one who thinks that Ms. Rosen’s apology doesn’t sound sincere? When your mission is an “activist” first and a “thinker” second, it’s hard to lose face and sound contrite.

  • KarenT

    I personally believe that the Romney’s devotion to each other gave Ann Romney a far greater sense of security as a mother than her later wealth did. He has stuck by her through serious illness.

    “Mitt and Ann settled into a $75-a-month basement apartment. Studying with new discipline, he graduated at the top of the humanities college. He built wading pools for his wife and son out of rocks in a nearby river.” . . . . http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/15/us/politics/15romney.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all