Imagining the reaction to her "I know what it means to struggle" remark if Democrats acted like Republicans VIDEO
Nicely played, GOP.
Mitt Romney’s “I know you are, but what am I?” strategy, declaring President Obama the real perpetrator of a “war on women,” got an assist from CNN Democratic analyst Hilary Rosen Wednesday, when she questioned whether Romney should use his wife, Ann, as his expert on women’s issues when she “never worked a day in her life.” As feminists have known thanks to the silly Mommy Wars over the last 20 years, every mother is a working mother. Rosen, who is herself a mom who also works outside the home, has now apologized, as has every prominent Democrat from President Obama to Debbie Wasserman Schultz to David Axelrod (and probably FDR, from the grave).
But Republicans still won’t shut up about it. An aggrieved Ann Romney even told Fox News, “I will tell you that Mitt said to me more times than I can imagine, Ann, your job is more important than mine,” and added that as the mother of five grown boys, “I know what it’s like to struggle.”
Well, I’d like to demand that Ann Romney apologize to all women for equating the “struggle” of a wealthy mother who had full-time household help to that of a poor or working-class job-holding mother, who must choose between her job and her children when a child gets sick. How dare you, madam? Have you no shame? I’d like to demand that Mitt Romney apologize for his wife’s remarks, too. I’d like to hear every prominent Republican denounce Ann Romney for her heinous insensitivity to non-wealthy mothers who must work outside the home.
Wait. Ann Romney’s not a Democrat, and I’m not a Republican, so that’s not how the world works. Sorry about that. I apologize.
No, Ann Romney doesn’t need to apologize – but in a grown-up world, Hilary Rosen wouldn’t have had to either. The point Rosen was making was, and is, valid: Mitt Romney repeatedly refers to his wife, Ann, in lordly terms, “reporting” to him what matters to women. Reporting to him, like she’s an employee, or maybe a translator. It’s valid to suggest that he ought to talk about what women believe from his own experiences, or what he learns from women colleagues, co-workers, campaign staff. He should stop referring to his wife’s “reports” about women’s issues, sounding like Thurston Howell III.
And the fact is, Ann Romney’s experiences are not the average woman’s. She is a woman of great privilege. Most mothers don’t have the “choice” to stay home full time with their kids; they need a paycheck. Meanwhile, her husband supports the Paul Ryan budget, which cuts nutrition programs for pregnant women and new moms and their kids. It cuts Medicaid for poor women and children. It slashes food stamp funding, when women and children make up two-thirds of the people who get food stamps. He wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood, which provides not just contraception but breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for millions of low-income women.
In blasting the Obama campaign for the remarks of a Democrat unrelated to his campaign, Concerned Women for America called motherhood “the most important job there is.” Except when poor women do it, that is. Republicans crusaded to kill Aid to Families With Dependent Children (supported eventually by Bill Clinton and other Democrats) to make sure that poor women joined the workforce. Motherhood is “the most important job there is” unless your children are poor. What a bunch of hypocrites.
I’m sure Ann Romney knows what it’s like to struggle. We all do; it’s the nature of being human. But in the political arena we really ought to be able to distinguish between personal struggles, and struggles that have social and political causes and implications. It reminded me of when Bill O’Reilly told Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, “I’m not black so I don’t know your struggle and you don’t know my struggle because you’re not white.” Nobody knows the troubles Bill’s seen, growing up on the mean streets of Old Westbury. I’m not saying that white people can’t face injustice, but to equate the black and white “struggles” is just ridiculous. Ann Romney is smart enough to distinguish between her own “struggles” and those of women who work at low-wage jobs and struggle to raise their children safely.
I debated the faux-controversy over Rosen’s remarks on “Hardball” today with Michael Steele:
Joan Walsh is Salon's editor at large and the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America." More Joan Walsh.
More Related Stories
- Boehner: "Inconceivable" Obama didn't know about IRS targeting
- Obama to announce new effort to close Guantanamo Bay
- House supporters of KXL received $56m from fossil fuel industry
- Judge tells lesbian couple to separate -- or lose kids
- Obama to address drones, Guantánamo
- If Alex Pareene were a cable news executive...
- Portland's senseless war on fluoride
- Graphic video reportedly shows possible London machete attack suspect
- What economists get wrong about the jobs crisis
- Ted Cruz: "I don't trust the Republicans"
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- Glenn Beck: "The American people have just been raped"
- "Original Coca-Cola had a very small amount of cocaine"
- Corporations accused of wrongdoing win battle to keep identities secret
- Weak, incompetent Democrats blow another one
- Lois Lerner, IRS disaster
- Cyber attacks could cause the next world war
- Donald Rumsfeld worried that marriage equality will lead to polygamy
- Experts: Fox News spying scandal a game-changer
- Biden cracks Obama teleprompter joke
- IRS official takes the Fifth: "I have not done anything wrong"
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11