Shrill for the Women’s Vote: Ann Romney and Hilary Rosen Go to War

BUZZFEED: This is what a Twitter firestorm looks like.

WASHINGTON – The graphic above is from Buzzfeed, a favorite daily stop of mine. It says a lot, especially how Hilary Rosen’s comment turned Ann Romney into the Romney campaign’s reluctant heroine at a time when the candidate himself is sucking wind on women. That the cultural collision ignited by Rosen brought back a favorite Republican talking point, to which I’ve never related, about feminists and liberals paved the way for the trend shown above.

Hilary Rosen stepped out on a ledge this week and discovered she was all alone.

My Twitter feed was on fire after an appearance last night on CNN’s AC360, where I said that I thought it was wrong for Mitt Romney to be using his wife as his guide to women’s economic struggles when she “had never worked a day in her life.” – Hilary Rosen

It was seen at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as a May Day alert, Obama reelect jumping into damage control by sending in their strongest weapon First Lady Michelle Obama.

It moved Ann D. Romney to join Twitter and respond for the first time.

I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.

I chose not to have children, not because of the hard work, but because of the type of hard work children require. So, I’m not going to doubt Ann Romney. I’ve seen it in friends and in my own family. Motherhood is a full time job.

Rosen also used her CNN talking head perch to declare there was no war on women, simply because the bluntness makes Obama reelect nervous. This is your Democratic Party, always parsing.

Partisanship doesn’t help women, but neither Ann Romney nor Hilary Rosen care. They’re out for their side, which is why women still don’t have full employment equality and are on their own, because it’s all about political parties and not you. Both Rosen and Romney miss the larger issue.

It’s about what women need today in the 21st century, which revolves around reality that goes well beyond Ann Romney and Hilary Rosen’s 20th century partisan talking points.

From The Shriver Report, back in 2009:

As women move into the labor force, their earnings are increasingly important to families and women more and more become the major breadwinner—even though women continue to be paid 23 cents less than men for every dollar earned in our economy. Nearly 4 in 10 mothers (39.3 percent) are primary breadwinners, bringing home the majority of the family’s earnings, and nearly two-thirds (62.8 percent) are breadwinners or co-breadwinners, bringing home at least a quarter of the family’s earnings. What’s more, women are now much more likely to head families on their own.

Does Ann Romney know what this statistic means to women? More importantly, does her husband, which is the whole argument for 2012?

Hilary Rosen chose to serve up Ann Romney instead of her husband, which set the trap she walked into herself. It was an amateur partisan mistake that has in the short term resounded to Romney’s benefit.

I could care less as long as women come out on top. But we all know you won’t. Not in this food fight.

This is not the fight Obama reelect wants to have, because Mrs. Romney has framed it beautifully for the ideologues, using the age old argument of stay at home mom working for her family vs. working mom outside the home trying to make ends meet.

“Women are not only the CFO in the household, but they’re the chief purchasing officer.” – Lisa Caputo, former aide to Hillary Clinton

When my dad died, my mother had to figure out how to make a living with an ambitious 11 year-old daughter with gigantic dreams. But first she had to find the checkbook, because she’d never seen it before. She went to work at a retail outlet called Famous Barr for an hourly wage. The only raises she would ever receive were a nickle every few months. We’d celebrate every time, but we couldn’t have made it without the help of my siblings.

Does Ann Romney know what it’s like to not be paid the same as a man doing the same job? Does she know the struggles of women like my mom? Does she know the struggle of a single mom? Not in practical terms, though Ann Romney is absolutely capable of feeling a working mother’s pain and struggle, because she’s wealthy and knows the daunting task of motherhood, so she certainly can appreciate a mother with no help has it worse.

This is a no brainer, unless you want to play ideological one-upsmanship that pits stay at home moms vs. working moms vs. single moms vs. gay moms vs. BLAH-BLAH-BLAH-BLAH-BLAH.

Just stick a laced sock in it, ladies.

If this is what women are going to do with this debate, get the hook and book the men.

Both David Axelrod and Jim Messina chimed in via Twitter, Messina saying Rosen should apologize. (She eventually did.)

“I could not disagree with Hilary Rosen any more strongly. Her comments were wrong and family should be off limits. She should apologize,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a tweet.

Top Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod also tweeted his disapproval: “Also Disappointed in Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney. They were inappropriate and offensive.”

This is how a turn-around can begin.

The White House went into damage control and eventually Pres. Obama spoke on record, too, that’s how bad they deem the potential damage.

Romney’s website said that women account for 92.3 percent of jobs lost under Obama. … There is a small amount of truth to the claim, but it ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False. – Politifact

Mitt Romney’s problem with women makes Ann Romney’s role more important, the need to have her up front critical to his candidacy. The sacrifice to her health and longevity for over-extending will be an issue she and Mitt Romney struggle with throughout the 2012 campaign. It’s another job she’s taken on for which she’ll only get grief.


Taylor Marsh is the author of The Hillary Effect, which is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, where it was 1 of only 4 books in their NOOK Featured Authors Selection launch. Marsh is a veteran political analyst and commentator. She has written for The Hill, U.S. News & World Report, Zocalo Public Square, among others, and has been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her new media blog.