Unless you’ve been under a rock for a week, you’ve heard about Hilary Rosen’s comments Ann Romney didn’t “work a day in her life,” and the firestorm that started.
Ms. Rosen certainly stepped in it. But this post is not about the words she chose. Others have written plenty on that topic. My problem is with what she was really trying to say, which was just as bad, or worse.
Ms. Rosen was unartfully trying to say that because Ann has not held a paid job, or in other words because Ann is wealthy, Ann has no credibility to speak on economic issues. This is wrong. It’s anti-American and undemocratic.
Mitt has been attacked with comments he is “out of touch,” or that he (and now Ann) can’t understand people because of their wealth, or the insupportable statement that he somehow “isn’t connecting.” I could trot out numerous examples of how Mitt’s words have been taken out of context to try and make the point he’s one of “them,” not one of “us,” or, in OWS lingo, part of the one percent.
All of these attacks are meant to create and perpetuate a culture of blame, an us vs. them mentality and to divide us based on our economic circumstances. As pointed out by our own David Parker in another post tonight, they are certainly not in the spirit of Barack Obama’s promise to go above partisan politics as usual and the politics of division. The American dream to me, and I believe to the entire GOP, is that all people should have an opportunity to make of themselves what they will. To point at someone like Ann Romney and tear her down because she is fortunate enough to have had success is clearly what Ms. Rosen was trying to do, and it is just plain wrong. I’m offended because Ms. Rosen’s words try to solidify that economic divide solely to keep a Democrat in the White House. Her comments were mean spirited and misguided. There is no hope in them, only, I believe, a knowing mis-representation intended to solicit the support of the poor, who, ironically, are in the situation they’re in due to President Obama’s failed economic policies.
Mitt has said it very well: if you vilify success, you’ll have less of it. The left has been vilifying Mitt’s success since he started in order to shift the blame from their own failed policies and solidify their hold on power. This just cannot stand.
With those thoughts in mind, here are my top ten reasons why what Ms. Rosen meant was just as bad as what she said:
1. Mitt and Ann Romney have just as much to contribute to the conversation as anyone else, and of course actually have more. Even if Mitt has more money than 99% of the populace, that’s not a disqualifying fact, it’s uniquely qualifying. Being successful means he and Ann likely understand more about the economy than I or another average Joe like me does. I want my president to have been successful in his or her chosen field, and suggesting that one economic class of Americans is not qualified to serve is wrong.
2. Mitt’s father worked himself up from nothing to become the president of a car company. He had no college education. He had been brought by his parents from Mexico, where he was born a U.S. citizen, to start a new life. I don’t expect life was easy on George Romney. And when you grow up in a home like that, especially as Mitt did to a parent that lived through the great depression, I’m pretty sure that being wasteful of money, or being lazy, just was not tolerated in George’s household. I know it wasn’t in Mitt’s. I’ve mentioned before that once in a while I get to observe the Romney family from a step or two outside their central family circle. And I’ve never, ever, observed any wastefulness with money. To say the members of the clan I’ve met are frugal is an understatement. They appreciate the value of money more than many others I know of lesser means, understand their fortunate position and are very, very responsible not to take it for granted. To suggest that Mitt has no appreciation for economic difficulty is just wrong.
3. Ann Romney’s family similarly came from humble circumstances. Ann’s grandfather was a coal miner in Wales, and came to the United States after suffering a significant injury in the mines to make a new life. Upon arrival the family understood that education was critical to success, so the entire family sacrificed to send one member of the family to college by working and pooling their resources. The selected family member was Ann’s father. I imagine that when he attended school, he did so with a special sense of responsibility for the sacrifice of his family on his behalf. As a result of his education, he was able to get a good job upon graduating. Again, sacrifice at that level becomes part of the family DNA, and similarly from what I’ve observed there is no sense of entitlement on the Davies side of the family; on the contrary a healthy respect for what they have. To suggest that Ann Davies Romney knows nothing of economic hardship is also just wrong.
4. Mitt Romney is living solely on what he earned. While people try and say Mitt was born into privilege because of the success of his father, they may not realize that what Mitt has, he earned. It’s not a family fortune that makes up his wealth. Whatever he received from his parents was donated to charity years ago. No, Mitt is an example of the American dream. He had an opportunity to go to college, and made the best of it by becoming valedictorian. You don’t achieve that by having a sense of entitlement, only through a combination of innate ability and a lot of hard work. Mitt then went on to get a joint JD (law degree) and MBA. Having pursued the same path I know it’s not easy. Nothing is given to you. To suggest that Mitt had everything given to him and therefore “can’t relate” is just wrong.
5. Mitt’s and Ann’s charitable contributions are noteworthy. Not only have they given a significant percentage of their income to charity, the sheer dollar numbers are staggering. Their commitment to helping others is worthy of respect. To say they’re out of touch or don’t understand others’ suffering is just wrong.
6. Mitt and Ann have both contributed their time in charitable causes. Mitt has served as a lay minister in his church, counseling those who are facing sometimes severe economic, emotional or spiritual trials. Ann has similarly served in volunteer positions in church and in charitable organizations. Ann has worked with at-risk youth and supports multiple sclerosis research. They have both seen the devastation joblessness can create. To suggest Ann is not in a position to speak on the economy is just wrong.
7. Mitt learned through his profession how the economy works. He knows what a disaster Obama’s economic policies have been and saw it coming. In 2008 he made the comment that electing a Democrat with a Democratic Congress would be like giving the president of a company a blank check, which would inevitably result in overspending. In the case of the country it would be ruinous for the deficit. Now four years later President Obama has added more to the deficit than all other presidents combined, and the Republicans’ unwillingness to go along with these spending habits has led to an unhealthy gridlock in Washington. Mitt saw this coming. To say he has no perspective on economic issues is horrifically wrong. To re-elect Obama with a Democratic Congress would only make things worse. And to re-elect Obama with a GOP Congress would result in continued logjams. The only path to success is to elect Mitt with a GOP Congress.
8. Ann has been WORKING on the campaign trail for about a year now. She has MS. Her efforts are continually a sacrifice. Why does she do it? Because she also saw the effects of Obama’s policies and wanted them undone. As I’ve reported before, she was a catalyst in getting Mitt to run again, even though it’s always an uphill battle to unseat an incumbent. Mitt and Ann want Mitt to win so he can fix the Obama mess, precisely because they do understand economic issues.
9. In the interview in which she got herself in trouble, Ms. Rosen was trying to take issue with Ann’s saying she knows women’s concerns. Ann’s been on the campaign trail for a year, and this special privilege has allowed her to hear the voices of women about the prospects for success for their own immediate families and their children, and the concern that the staggering national debt will cripple our children’s ability to have a better life. Ann has a perspective from being on the trail a year that Ms. Rosen, inside the beltway, can’t comprehend. To discount that because of personal bias is just wrong.
10 Most offensive, Ms. Rosen seems to want us to believe that because Ann has not worked outside the home her views are worthless on the subject of the economy. It’s one thing to slip, if it was a slip, and say stay-at-home moms don’t “work.” Even Ms. Rosen now admits they do. But it’s another thing altogether to truly mean that stay at home moms should have no voice in the democratic process or that their views are worth less than those of working women. This is anti-democratic and wrong.
Hilary Rosen may or may not have meant what she got in trouble for saying. But to me, what she meant to say was just as bad.