Frank Bruni doesn’t “get” Hilary Rosen

Frank Bruni started off his article by writing that “by the standards of Hilary Rosen…my mother also never worked a day in her life…Like Romney, Mom didn’t punch a clock or get a paycheck or any of that.” He goes on to write that Mrs. Bruni dealt with “the bill paying, the checkbook balancing, the wrangling of the roofer, the wrangling with the electrician, the car selection, the school selection, you name it.”

I also will assume that Mrs. Bruni managed to do this while operating on a budget much more limited and constricted than the Romneys….And that was Rosen’s point.

I hate repeating this but the issue isn’t that Mrs. Romney was a stay-at-home mom, because really who cares? Hillary Clinton was a stay-at-home mom for a while, and let’s face it: Michelle Obama’s become one, too.

The issue was that Mitt Romney used his wife to shore up some imaginary allegiance to working women. What Rosen said was this:

“With respect to economic issues, I think actually that Mitt Romney is right, that ultimately women care more about the economic well-being of their families and the like. But he doesn’t connect on that issue either. What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, ‘Well, you know my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues and when I listen to my wife that’s what I’m hearing.’

Guess what? 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 in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and  why do we worry about their future.

No one is saying (Rosen included) that stay-at-home moms don’t “get” work – what she’s saying is that fabulously wealthy women like Mrs. Romney are clueless… To suggest otherwise is pretty specious…

Bruni also goes on to write that Rosen’s words “reflect the way partisan sniping aims too broadly and claims needless casualties.”

Mrs. Romney is a casualty? I’m sorry, but she got off really easy – just think back a few years to remember the kind of crap Clinton or Obama had to endure because of their choices in careers. Even Sarah Palin, a darling of the anti-feminist Right endured more than Mrs. Romney…Also, we have to point out that it was Mitt Romney who brought up his wife first, not Rosen – he introduced her into the conversation and so he made her fair game for the pundits and talking heads.

And Bruni goes on to write that “tagging Ann Romney as sheltered and old-fashioned is such an obvious, facile and reductive putdown.” It would be if it wasn’t true. There have been wealthy women who have pushed for better access to gender parity – it’s the Romneys themselves that are getting trashed, not the class they represent. Liberals don’t mistake for one moment that the Obamas aren’t wealthy – but their political ideology includes holistic approaches to the welfare state than the Romneys.

Bruni got it right when he wrote that Romney had a hand in the image of him being out of touch because of his “near-pathological knack for awkward invocations of wealth.” He asks if privilege equals an inability to relate – no, it doesn’t – but again, we’re not attacking the Romneys just because they’re rich – we’re attacking them because they’re rich and out of touch.

Finally, Bruni pulls out that old song about how feminism is about choices  and allowing “everyone along that spectrum to walk successfully down the path of his or her choosing” – this really gets me peeved because politicians like Mitt Romney aren’t interested in choices. And there’s a big, flashing news flash: most women don’t have the “choice” that Mrs. Romney had; and most women who stay at home don’t have the financial freedom that Mrs. Romney has.

What people are forgetting in all this mess (which is purely manufactured, by the way – trust me, if the Right really cared about women, its record on women’s rights, equal pay, reproductive freedom, healthcare and education would be a lot stronger) is that Mrs. Romney, the person, is not being attacked – none of us know who she is – as far as I’m concerned, she’s probably a really nice lady. It’s the hackneyed “just folks” version of Mrs. Romney served up by her husband that’s being critiqued.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t be wasting precious time talking about Ann Romney. She’s not running for president, nor does her personal views on the economy matter. But unfortunately, her husband decided to insert her into the debate. So, sorry to all the Romney defenders, but because he decided to do that, Mrs. Romney becomes fair game.



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