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Hilary Rosen and Ann Romney

category_bug_politics.gif What Hilary Rosen said about Ann Romney last week has been ticking at my brain like one of Peter Tibbles' earworms. “Never worked a day in her life. Never worked a day in her life.” And again, “never worked a day in her life.”

The Romneys then cooked up some outrage and tried to show how hard Mrs. Romney worked. Mrs. Romney tweeted, "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work." One of the sons announced to the press they never had a nanny.

All this is par for the course. What I did not expect was how fast and furiously everyone in the Obama administration, from the president on down, pedaled to defend Mrs. Romney.

“Motherhood is the hardest job there is,” chorused everyone as they pilloried Hilary Rosen. The pile-on was so thick that Rosen canceled her scheduled Sunday appearance on Meet the Press and then she “deeply” apologized.

This should never have happened. The attacks on Hilary Rosen are the result of willful, deliberate misunderstanding of what she said - first by the Romneys and then by the idiot Democrats who apparently have so few important issues to deal with that they can't recognize a phony one when it smacks them in the face.

Come on! Everyone knows what Rosen meant - that Ann Romney has never depended on a paycheck to raise a family.

Ann Romney has never run short of rent money because the kids needed shoes. She never had her pay docked for taking time off to care for a sick child. She never stayed up a night in her life trying to figure out to how afford birthday gifts. She has never had to say no to a child for anything, ever, because there was no money for it.

However hard motherhood is in any economic bracket in terms of raising children to become responsible adults, it is infinitely more difficult when holding a job outside the home. That's what Hilary Rosen meant.

In his speech to the National Rifle Association last week, Mitt Romney said in response to Ms. Rosen, “I happen to believe that all moms are working moms.”

And Mrs. Romney likes to tell campaign audiences that her husband told her “more times than I can imagine, ‘Ann, your job is more important than mine.’”

Well, apparently for Mitt, that applies only to wealthy mothers. In case you missed it, Chris Hayes on the Sunday edition of his Up show on MSNBC, tracked down some video of Romney speaking in New Hampshire about his position on welfare when he was governor of Massachusetts:

“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” Romney said in January [2012]. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work.

“And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless,’ and I said ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.”

Noblesse oblige and all that. Chris Hayes also noted that this has been Romney's position for many years:

“As Romney himself put it in a speech to the Burlington Business Council during his campaign for Senate in 1994, the purpose of welfare “is to get people back into the workforce, that work is ennobling, and that we will do everything in our power to make sure that people who are on welfare have an opportunity and an obligation to go to work, not after two years but from day one if we could.”

Fer gawd's sake – is this man running for president or for king? As far as I can tell, neither Romney is the least embarrassed by their doubletalk.

No one – not the Romneys, not the Democrats – comes out of this untarnished. At least Hilary Rosen spoke truth. I wish she hadn't apologized.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Michael Gorodezky: An Important Moment and a Simple Truth

Comments

This is why I love reading your blogs...you state the obvious so clearly. I completely agree with you that Hilary Rosen owed no one an apology and I'm sorry she didn't go on Meet the Press to defend and clarify her remarks.

Finally, someone else who can't understand anyone's apology. Yes, it is exhausting to raise children. But, Ann Romney had a choice. Most women do not have a choice and the one's lucky enough to choose, usually have paid household help. Can anyone imagine Ms. Romney swabbing out one of the toilets in her several homes. What is wrong with the democrats - they can't even explain and defend health care.


Someone said that one of the downsides for Mitt Romney if he wins the Presidency is that he will have to move into a smaller house.

I know for a fact that they have help there, so finally, Mrs. Romney will be able to relax and take a rest from all her duties as a "stay at home" Mom.

In yesterdays NYTimes online Jeff Danzinger's cartoon was titled "Hardest job in the world". The woman comfy against a bedrest pillow with a laptop was giving instructions to five household employees."Jose, you finish the front yard, Maria clean the bathrooms and vacuum...". You get the idea. We should all have it so hard.lol
I think the harder job is taking care of your own children after you've worked all day cleaning someone elses house.

Like Hilary Rosen, I have apologized for nothing I did wrong. Bowing to pressure, wimping out on holding my own in the face of derision, and when sticking with my fact-based information felt harder, riskier than giving into fear of "being wrong" when I knew I wasn't. I can see how she wimped out though, like you and some commenters, wish she hadn't. It reminds me to stay the course unless not doing so would save a life, protect a vulnerable person from harm, or similar reason.

That's funny as I wrote on the same topic for today. Republicans are gleeful and Democrats apologetic. Without a doubt Rosen didn't mean it as they took it but the feminism movement has, mostly when it began, disrespected stay at home moms (with a few notable exceptions) and it's why I think Democrats felt they had to get ahead of this. With a pundit driven world, that's hard to do.

The only thing Hillary Rosen did wrong was to use a poor choice of words. If she had said "Ann Romney never had to worry about losing a paycheck in her life --" there would have been no story.

We all know what Hillary Rosen meant, but the fact that she is a Lesbian working mother added fuel to the fire.

I love the Jess Danzinger cartoon. If only the Democrats had shown the same humor about the situation it would have shown the Republicans up for what they were; a group ready to pounce on anything to change the subject from their lack of ideas.

Oops - that should have read Jeff Danzinger.

Atta girl, Ronni. Thank you for making the obvious clear in a world which seems intent on making the obvious murky.

And, where is all the outrage about the Congressman who called certain Democrats in Congress "communists"? Why is it that we don't have fair and balanced outrage? It all boils down to politics and it ain't pretty!

I'm trying to think back--have the Republicans ever apologized for ANYTHING?

I'm waiting for the day that someone, be it Democratic or Republican, is willing to say," I meant every word."
Golly, that will give the media a field day. It is all soooooooo dumb! Dee

Sorry, but more to the point, it's a non-issue and every broadcast minute and written word given over to it by EITHER party diverts our attention and takes away time that would be better spent on real problems and what's to be done to resolve them!!

We all know what she meant. She meant someone like my daughter who, out of necessity, works full time and goes out of her way to involve herself with her two children when at home.

However, with today’s technology, even when at home, “real” working moms are sometimes still at work.

So sorry she apologized...

The only people who didn't understand exactly what she meant are those running for office.

This already-endless campaign is already nauseating.

Isn't this blog 'supposed' to be non-partisan? I am a life-long Democrat but why is it on here all Republicans are scoundrels and all Democrats
RIGHT! Women have been getting it in the press and nobody loves a good fight better than the media!
Just a note:Ann Romney did suffer from breast cancer and has MS!
On no one's side BUT I do like it fair!

I am glad that motherhood and parenting are coming front and center in this campaign. I don't believe we can talk about them too much. Remember what Hillary Clinton said about how "It takes a village?" As a society we have defaulted on our obligations to children, because we would rather throw the entire obligation for the next generation onto parents and treat parenthood as some sort of consumer decision, which means we are under no obligation to the young, except perhaps for our own children and grandchildren. At the same time, we insist on our entitlements.
If younger people turn on elders, it may be understandable. Although, amazingly, they seem to forgive us, for the most part.
I hope we don't have a generational war break out and a zero sum game about who gets the resources.

The "dignity of work" indeed. Right, let's get all those welfare moms dignified jobs as CEOs, Presidents, Judges, Senators,... we'd get 'em off welfare right quick! And they'd be dignified too!

Once again, Ronni...you hit it right smack on the head! From your sentence that "Ann Romney never had to work for a paycheck to pay the rent", and that is the key. No one that I know diminishes the hard work of motherhood. But combine that with trying to keep a job and pay the rent and buy the groceries.....
I too, wish Hilary had not apologized...though I'm not sure how sincere it was. She was not wrong, only the public pressure I believe.

Ms. Rosen's entire comment is understood by all women who ever worked outside the home: "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."

Knowing the nature of American politics, she could have not said the first sentence or been more careful about it, maybe "His wife has never worked for a paycheck in her life."

Be that as it may, Ms. Rosen said nothing for which she needed to apologize.

The loudly claimed indignation is certainly false. Rosen's critics know darn well that she was right and it is idiocy to try to convince us that Mrs. Romney or Ms. Bachmann has led the life of the average American woman.

Then Michele Bachmann jumps in, professing to be shocked and insulted by Ms. Rosen's comments. If this little kerfuffle shocks and insults Bachmann, it is certainly a good thing that she didn't become the POTUS...she would never have lasted!

As for Mr. Romney's wanting poor mothers to feel "the dignity of work" outside the home for a paycheck, how could he bring himself to deny his own wife that dignity?

The most frustrating part of this for me is the response from Obama's whole team, starting with David Axelrod down the line. Instead of underscoring the real message in Hillary Rosen's statement - the economic privelege that makes Ann Romney out of touch - Democrats rushed to distance themselves from her and issue instead their profuse support for all the moms out there. Once again, I can't believe how inept the Dems are these days at playing the political game.

That may be what she meant but it was not what she said. Words do matter. And saying that someone "has actually never worked a day in her life" is very loose. If Ms. Rosen is as smart as you all think, she needs to think before she blurts out blanket comments like this in what, unfortunately, is STILL a hot-button issue, both for those who stay home, and those who do not - whether through choice or for other reasons, in either case.

I was angry with Rosen because she gave the Romney camp the excuse to trot out the tired old idea that employed women (read feminists) look down on stay-at-home moms and that only conservatives respect women who choose to stay at home.

I know that isn't what Rosen meant, but she should have known her words would be twisted in that way because it happens every time. The so-called "mommy wars" are, as far as I can tell, a pundit and media creation, not a real phenomenon, but they keep talking about it as if it were real.

I agree with Ronni, however, that Democrats spend a great deal too much time apologizing instead of defending their own principles, which is what Republicans do. Obama should have taken the opportunity to point out his record on women's issues vs. those of his opponents.

Ahem...
Linda Riley and anyone else who thinks that Hilary Rosen did not say what she meant and is therefore to be tarred and feathered along with anyone who supports her:

Here is her complete statement which many news outlets, politicians and pundits quoted out of context:

"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 women in this country are facing."

I am in total agreement with you, Ronni.

Was taken completely by surprise at the reactions to Ms. Rosen's statement. And, Like you, I don't really think that many people took the time to read her entire statement. Thanks for repeating it for us.

Is there anyone, really, who didn't know what Hillary Rosen meant? Really? Watching the news media, the Democrats, and others buying into the manufactured outrage from the usual suspects was disappointing, but sadly no real surprise--and not just because it's an election year. The willingness of so much of the vocal nation to respond defensively to rightwing smears and submit is no longer remarkable. Maybe it's the Stockholm Syndrome.

So do I! Hilary Rosen had nothing to apologize for. She spoke the truth, especially when you look at the entire context. All she needed to add to avoid the firestorm of criticism is that Ann Romney "has never worked OUTSIDE THE HOME a day in her life". That's what she meant, and that's what most thinking people realize she meant.

As several other writers have pointed out, Ann Romney had what I call a "genuine" choice. She had the economic means to be a stay-at-home mom, and that was her choice. She had every right to make that choice, and I'm sure she worked hard at being a good mother.

However, the point is that most working class mothers--and many middle class mothers these days--don't have the economic means to make a "genuine" choice. That is what Hilary Rosen was talking about--and what Mitt Romney et. al. just can't seem to get. I also agree that if, as Mitt has stated, work equates with dignity (it has for me personally over the past 50+ years) Mrs. Romney should have been afforded the opportunity to seek some of that dignity for herself.

I was wondering where NWD got the idea that this blog was supposed to be non-partisan? Why would it be?
And it doesn't appear to me that most people think that Republicans are scoundrels and Democrats right...most commenters are complaining about the way that Democrats handled the response.

Both sides are quick to pounce to take a sentence out of context, especially one phrased badly, and ride it to death, even when it is clear the outrage is unwarranted. It is no wonder that most national politicians are so scripted nowadays.

It is one thing to really say something controversial or objectionable, and another thing to have your words twisted to make it seem so.

Rain is absolutely correct that there was some "disrespecting" of stay-at-home moms by a few of the leaders in the early days of the (2nd wave) feminist movement. I always attributed most of that tone-deafness to the fact that a few of those particular leaders themselves never HAD to work a day in their lives--they were from privileged families. The real joys and hardships faced by most mothers were better understood by rank-and-file feminists of the time, because we lived it.

Heaven help us all now if we don't understand that the feminist movement was about opening up the full range of options to women, not glorifying one pathway over another.

One more thing our President did to disappoint me - he should stop apologizing. In this case, a simple clarification that parents do work, but recognizing that most women have to face more than just parenting every day when they get up.

Ann Romney could be a spokesperson for MS, on being a parent with MS, very significant challenges in life. But she cannot understand the financial insecurities or the time conflicts of being a mom working outside the home.

I imagine Hilary was pressured to apologize. I can't say I'm disappointed in the Obama administration for not backing her because - sad to say - I have come to expect that kind of kowtowing from all Democrats. It is most harmful coming from the top, though, where he should be setting an example.

The issue of requiring work for welfare is only a problem for single parents. Single parenthood is the single biggest factor in poverty - and the statistics for the children of single parents are gloomy. The best option for an unwed mother is adoption at birth - there is high demand for babies. Even babies of minority race. (Older children are harder to find good homes for.)

The problem with higher levels of support for single mothers with children is that single mothers effectively get paid more for more illegitimate children. "Workfare" is an attempt to reduce that perverse incentive. It sucks, however, if you are already a single mother.

Stuart, I noticed you referring to single mothers as though they were unwed or had never been wed.

Over the last decade or two I have noticed that mothers who are divorced or widowed are also referred to as single, therefore their children may not be babies or illegitimate.

Single motherhood may also be the result of abandonment or of a deadbeat dad. In effect, the mom is doing the job alone, even though legally married.

Hilary Rosen's comment was a cheap shot and she was called on it. It's that simple.
It defies logic to indicate that you have to directly experience something in order to understand it.
She spoke "the truth" in order to demean someone. And in the process she herself was demeaned - fair play.

You're quite right, Ronni. Any thinking person would know that Rosen's comment about "...not working..." referred to a paying job outside the home.

Clearly in this explosive political atmosphere words are taken out of context and people deliberately misunderstand then demonstrate faux outrage. Anything to make the news and the news media love it!

"Come on! Everyone knows what Rosen meant - that Ann Romney has never depended on a paycheck to raise a family." "Everyone" does not know that this is what Rosen meant. If this is what Rosen meant, this is what she should have said. If Rosen can't correctly state her views in a public forum, she should find another line of work where accurate communication is not so important.

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