Hilary Rosen, Ann Romney and the Dishonesty of the Republican Party
By now everyone has heard of Hilary Rosen and her comments related to Mitt Romney’s touting of his wife Ann as his go-to person on women’s economic issues. The Rosen comment is a perfect example of how the Republican party has devolved into abject dishonesty. After her comment the Republicans immediately extracted it from its context and created a completely new – and false – meaning for it, which they then have been browbeating to death. The goal is to distract from the original point.
So no, Rosen wasn’t saying anything against mothers, women, or any of the other straw men (or straw women) that the GOP has created out of whole cloth. She wasn’t even chastising Ann Romney for her choice to be a full time mom. Her point was directly, clearly, and unambiguously about the hypocrisy of Mitt Romney’s touting of his wife as some sort of mentor on “women’s economic issues.”
That concept is, of course, ludicrous. Mrs. Romney has zero experience dealing with “women’s economic issues.” She has enjoyed an economic life of comfort, attending private schools when young and then being considerably wealthy for most of her adult life (can we say “dressage”). She chose to be a stay at home mom to their five children and has endured serious medical issues, and done so with aplomb. Everyone acknowledges both her contributions and her tribulations. That isn’t the point.
The point is that she has had the major advantage of not having to worry about money while facing these motherhood and medical issues. “Women’s economic issues” were never even relevant to her decision-making or her ability to successfully raise a family. The same cannot be said for the other 99.9% of women and families. For the “not fabulously wealthy” of us, being a stay at home mom is not always a choice; it may simply be that day care costs would exceed the income generated from working outside the home. For most people a two-income family is a necessity, not a choice (even Mitt has admitted this as he sought to restrict funding for young mothers). And as far as Mrs. Romney’s medical issues, most people would have had to worry about both the costs of insurance coverage and the very real possibility that they would be dumped by their carrier for having the audacity to actually make a claim. Mrs. Romney did not have this concern.
In fact, Mitt Romney wasn’t even being serious when he said that he turns to his wife for “women’s economic issues.” He was merely trying to deflect an awkward question for which he knew he didn’t have an answer – why is the Republican party so arrogantly hostile to women? [The same can be said of the party being arrogantly hostile to gays, non-Christians, anyone not the super-rich, minorities, and a whole host of other groups that make up, well, the vast majority of Americans.]
It is this jokingly-offered ludicrous attempt at deflection to which Ms. Rosen was alluding when she made her comment. Romney’s stumbling assertion that a rich woman with no real economic concerns would be his source of insight for “women’s economic issues.”
But not wanting to miss a political opportunity, the Republicans took advantage of Rosen’s statement to create their lie and saturate the media with it. Their goal was to use a dishonestly reinterpreted comment by one of the thousands of self-avowed “strategists” as a means of distracting from the Republican party’s constant attacks on women’s rights.
Remember that prior to this fake controversy arising it was the Republicans who were spending considerable time arguing against something as basic as a women’s right to contraception. It is the Republicans who have been trying to roll back the legal right of women to make their own reproductive choices. It is the Republicans who have gone so far as to pass a law saying that women are pregnant two weeks before they even have sex, and that they must undergo an invasive medical procedure and be forced to adhere to the wishes of politicians prior to making the already difficult choice to do something they have the legal right to do. And those are only the most recent examples. The Republican party has a long history of attacking the very issues that allow most women to participate in the American dream. The very “women’s economic issues” Mitt Romney ridiculously asserted his wife is his source of guidance.
It’s clear why the Republicans have jumped at Rosen’s statement and intentionally reinterpreted it in their usual dishonest way – they recognize that American women are tired of having their rights attacked by Republican politicians and extremist religious zealots.
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