Speaking truth to Power
On Women, Work and Shameless Hypocrisy
I have long argued that leaders of the Grand Obstructionist Party calculate the ignorance of their constituents into their formula for victory. Their latest shenanigans around the factual comment of Democratic Party strategist Hillary Rosen, who pointed out that Ann Romney is a housewife who has never held a job in the workplac in her life, exposes both their venality and their hypocrisy.
After all, Mitt Romney publicly proclaimed that he understood what women wanted because his wife Ann has been out talking with women and “reports” back to him. In the language of CEO speak that means he has delegated the responsiblilty of interpeting the aspirations of women to her.
Thus it was he that introduced his wife as an advisor to his campaign. That makes her fair game for criticism, and her judgment open to question; since we are told that she is an advisor on critical issues to a man who is running for the presidency of the United States. Hence what Hillary Rosen said is beyond appropriate: it is fitting….spot on!
I am referring to what she actually said; not the transparent lies and gross distortions of her comments presently being circulated by media shills of the GOP at WABC – “White Apartheid Broadcast Company” – and the FOX network. Although the leadership of the Democratic Party, including President Obama and the first lady, are running over each other to distance themselves from what they know is a bogus interpretation; they are just playing politics.
Understandably they don’t want to get bogged down in an argument trying to explain what Ms. Rosen meant when they are already leading the Republican challenger by almost 20 points with women voters. Hence their decision to heap denunciations on Ms. Rosen is politically smart but unprincipled alas. Since I am not in the habit of confusing politicians with saints, and would much prefer Machiavelli as an ally to Mother Theresa, I am not shocked at the demagoguery and opportunism of both the Democrats and the Republicans on this issue.
The Republicans are desperate to find an effective route into the hearts and minds of women voters, but President Obama has such a formidable record of support for women they are like drowning men grasping at straws. What is obvious about their strategy is that the GOP strategists think women are stupid….and they have millions of women whose political choices prove it. After all, they are passing laws all over the country that limit the life chances of women in this society, while Barack Obama’s first act was to sign the Lilly Ledbetter law, making it illegal to pay women less than men for comparable work.
And when he got the chance to appoint justices to the Supreme Court, one of the most consequential and enduring exercises of presidential power, he appointed two women to the Supreme Court over vociferous Republican opposition. There are many more instances of dramatic support for women on the part of President Obama, like provisions in the Affordable Health Care Act, which Ann’s husband has vowed to scrap.
In view of these facts, to think that a comment about Ann Romney’s qualification to speak on behalf of millions of working women, when she has never held a job, will reduce the dramatic gender gap between Mitt and Barack, is a blatant insult to the intelligence of women. But this issue could easily backfire on the Grand Obstructionist Party, because the Democrats can win this argument.
There are so few women who can identify with the plush life of Ann Romney that any gain the Republicans can get from this line of argument will prove insignificant. I am convinced that intelligent working women will immediately recognize this Republican contrived kerfuffle for the bogus bullshit that it is.
What is puzzling is the way the chattering class in the media, the pundits and bloviators who comment on the news, have jumped on this issue. Thus far they have shed far more heat than light. Since it is hard to believe that they are as uniformly stupid as they sound, frankly I’m at a lost to explain their bizarre behavior.
All of them genflect before Ann Romney, bestowing a gravitas on her mutterings that I fail to see. The only explanation I can conjure up is that producers in cable television with a news cycle that runs 24/7 jump on any issue that can attract viewers, even if they all know the controversy is bogus. Ms. Rosen went so far as to apologize for an insult she did not make in order to put an end to this distraction. It is a telling comment on the state of news commentary that it was left to comic Stephen Colbert to treat the controversy as the joke that it is.
The FOX NEWs and WABC radio crowd are doing what they were created to do…defend the Republican line no matter how absurd and inaccurate. Alas, they thrive on this kind of hypocrisy; it is their stock in trade. But the mealy mouth drivel coming from others in mainstream media, especially the liberals, is puzzling. Why don’t they just tell the truth and point out that this is a manufactured controversy?
What Ms. Rosen was actualy saying is that Ann Romney, a woman who has never worked for her daily bread outside of her home, but has spent her life as the pampered wife of a multi-millionaire, is not a reliable reporter on the problems of women who must daily engage in a Darwinian struggle for bread in an economy where good jobs are becoming harder to find, real wages are stagnant or falling, and women are still discriminated against. And many of these women are supporting several children on their own.
All most women will need is to see is that stupid FOX interview where a clueless Ann Romney talks about how much trouble she had raising five rambunctious boys in a fabulous mansion, and able to afford all the help she needed. When they witness this pampered priviledged woman suggesting that her ordeal is comparable to working women trying to raise children on non-union jobs who, if left to her husband, would be denied union representation, and even work, if Mitt thought he could make more money for his fat cat friends by eliminating her job; I am convinced that they will conclude that Ms. Rosen was right! Ann Romney is clueless!
Ann Romney: Clueless, Pampered, Housewife…..
……and transparent demagogue.
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
April 13, 2012