Thursday, April 12, 2012


I probably don't have to give you the background on this, but if you've been in a cave for the past 24 hours, here's a recap:

Ann Romney's debut on Twitter couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

Ann's first tweet came just moments after Democratic strategist and DNC adviser Hilary Rosen lobbed an insult at Ann Romney, suggesting that the 64-year-old mother of five and grandmother of 16 had never held a job.

"Guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life," said Rosen, who was being interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper about the "war on women."

And then, just like that, a familiar name popped up on Twitter: @AnnDRomney.

"I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work," Ann tweeted....

I don't care if there's a logic to what Rosen said -- this is American politics, and you can't say, or seem to say, or imply, or hint, that June Cleaver is a bad person. You're just asking for the Marshall stacks of the right-wing noise machine to be cranked up to 11, all describing what you've said as an attack on every stay-at-home mother in America. (And they are cranked up.)

It didn't have to happen -- the campaign message Rosen was responding to was already failing, and was never likely to succeed.

Here's Rosen's CNN quote in a bit more context:

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."

Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of 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 we -- why we worry about their future.

Here's Rosen's defense of her remarks at the Huffington Post:

Why does this even matter? It matters purely because Mitt Romney put the issue of his wife's views squarely on the table.

As Ruth Marcus noted in her column yesterday in the
Washington Post, Romney, when asked last week about the gender gap, twice said he wished his wife could take the question.

"My wife has the occasion, as you know, to campaign on her own and also with me," Romney told newspaper editors, "and she reports to me regularly that the issue women care about most is the economy."

So it begs the question, is Ann Romney Mitt's touchstone for women who are struggling economically or not? Nothing in Ann Romney's history as we have heard it -- hardworking mom she may have been -- leads me to believe that Mitt has chosen the right expert to get feedback on this problem he professes to be so concerned about.

Why even go there? Was there ever any likelihood that people -- even current or potential Romney supporters -- were going to believe that Ann Romney is her husband's great adviser on economics? She's not a pol or a policy wonk, and everyone knows she's rich. I think a great number of Americans don't hold her wealth against her -- but they know she doesn't go through the same economic struggles most Americans do. Usually Romney tries to turn himself into a regular person on the campaign trail, recalling moments of fearing pink slips and the like, and it's transparently pathetic. In this case he was trying to turn his wife into a regular Jane, and it seemed less pathetic because people like Ann Romney much more than they like Mitt. But it wasn't convincing.

It's obvious that Romney is invoking his wife because he's seen gender-gap poll numbers and knows he should invoke his wife as often as humanly possible, using any excuse. It was coming off that way. I don't even think low-information voters would have been fooled. Did I mention that Ann and her husband are rich? Even low-info voters know that.

So Hilary Rosen was addressing a campaign talking point that was dead on arrival. And now other Democratic operatives are distancing themselves from Rosen, and I actually think Michelle Obama's going to have to get involved -- she's going to have to repudiate this or it's going to linger as a story for days.

I get what Rosen was trying to do -- but it didn't need doing. And now she's rescued Romney's female outreach from the jaws of Fail.


UPDATE: As I predicted:

First lady Michelle Obama on Thursday advocated "respect" for women who work as stay-at-home moms, which was seen as a defense of Ann Romney in the wake of controversial comments about Romney's decision to stay at home and raise her sons.

Obama's comments came from her official twitter account.
Michelle Obama

Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected. –mo
Wonder if that'll be enough. I bet she'll still have to make a public statement, now that Ann Romney is on TV returning fire at Rosen, with, no doubt, many more TV appearances to follow.


BH said...

Another example of undisciplined messaging, if you will. Too many talking heads with too little to say, allowed to bill themselves as "Dem strategists and DNC advisers" while being free of any constraints on their utterances.

With all due respect to Rosen, I hope that she's not really a strategist or adviser to anything more important than HuffPo.

Anonymous said...

When the whole "women only care about the economy" tripe is brought up, I do wish someone would mention just how intertwined economic issues and reproductive rights are to most women. As a working mother, why would I want to bring more children into the world I can't afford? If the economy is bad and we're really trying hard to make ends meet and still give our kids what they need, how could I realistically put reproductive issues on the back burner? Their argument just doesn't make sense on even the most basic level, and yet I'm not hearing anyone mention the obvious truth.

Ann Romney can wear the martyr crown til the cows come home but it isn't going to help her husband escape his own anti-women policy preferences/anti-women political party. So some conservative mothers will act hurt on the TeeVee for a week or so, the majority of American women aren't stupid enough to vote for an anti-woman asshole simply because a Democrat was mean to his wife once.

Steve M. said...

Michelle Malkin says Rosen's name shows up repeatedly on White House visitor logs. I don't trust Malkin, but I suspect even she wouldn't just make this up when it's checkable.

Erik A. Prince said...

The biggest mistake Rosen made was in how she put it. She should have said something like: "Look, I have great respect for Anne Romney as a person and as a mother, but she is not the voice of the American woman. Her wealth insulates her from the hardships that most women deal with every day. She also had the option of staying home to raise her sons. Many women do not."

Just my $0.02