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Posted by on Apr 12, 2012 in Politics | 100 comments

Controversy Over Verbal Attack on Ann Romney (UPDATED 3)

UPDATE 3: How nice: Hilary Rosen has apologized for her comments about Ann Romney and some conservatives now attack her for raising children as a lesbian. This is a classic case where a Democrat put her foot in her mouth, gave an issue to GOPers and some on the GOP side overreached and undermined an issue handed to them on a silver platter. It’s another example of how partisans and ideologues escalate verbiage — and how the side that escalates it the worst is going to lose swing voters in the general election. On the other hand, Rosen has activated the GOP’s “secret weapon” (Ann Romney), caused Barbra Bush to come to Mrs. Romney’s defense, and inspired a big debate on The View. You can’t say Rosen helped the candidate she is trying to elect.

Our original post:

Here’s more proof that partisans on both sides simply can’t control themselves when they get into attack mode. Uh, oh, here come the “false equivalency” comments, and emails and blog links. But all you have to do on this comment is change the name and it’s something that sounds like it comes right out of right wing or left wing talk radio or an ideological cable show guest on MSNBC or Fox News:’

Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen stirred controversy Wednesday evening when she criticized Ann Romney for having “never worked a day in her life.”

During a discussion on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 of the so-called war on women, Rosen said she agreed with Mitt Romney’s claim that women care more about economic issues than reproductive rights. But Romney’s use of his wife Ann’s perspective shows how poorly the former Massachusetts governor connects with voters, Rosen said.

“Guess what?” Rosen said. “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.”

Rosen continued, “There’s something much more fundamental about Mitt Romney. He seems so old-fashioned when it comes to women, and I think that comes across, and I think that that’s going to hurt him over the long term. He just doesn’t really see us as equal.”

Rosen’s comments provoked a quick response from the Romney campaign, as well as from President Barack Obama’s reelection team.

Ann Romney, who previously was not on Twitter, sent her first official tweet in response to Rosen’s comments.

“I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys,” she wrote.

“Believe me, it was hard work.”

So this suggests the only people how who can enter into this debate are women who worked at regular jobs? The others have viewpoints that don’t count?

Will we next hear that some jobs don’t qualify?

And now, suddenly, raising a large family (even with lots of money) is just a lark?

And here come those “false equivalency” charges. But a phrase aiming at discrediting a criticism doesn’t erase the validity of the criticism.

UPDATE: Washington Wire offers this little tidbit:

“You know essentially, you’ve taken on sort of the most sympathetic person in the candidate’s realm, the wife, who is taking care of the children, supporting the husband, doing everything she can because she loves him. Michelle Obama is a pretty terrific woman I have to say, and I think that attacking her is a dumb strategy on the Republican’s part.”

— Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen, quoted by the Washington Examiner, on CNN on May 19, 2008.

I used the word “d-u-m-b” in discussing this on my Twitter page.

This is yet one more — rpt more — example (I have given many over the years) of how partisans on both sides (uh, oh here come more false equivalency charges) go into outrage mode over something the other side says then say the same thing when they want to try and discredit the other side.

Which is why some independents remain and will remain independents.

Rosen won’t apologize, suggesting it’s the Romney camp trying to take attention off Romney’s record. Another politically ill advised response. In reality, her response is her trying to take attention away from her comments on Ann Romney.

Firstly, as you can see above she made comments about Michelle Obama that will allow GOPers and others to argue that she says one thing about a D woman and another about an R woman. But the bottom line is she now keeps this line open — which will be repeated and rerun on talk radio and ideological cable shows where they can easily fill time with outrage and talking heads who will beat their chests (and they say the things about the other side later when they feel it helps then politically).

You wonder when you watch politicians and those around them if they read anything on damage control. (Perhaps only when it comes to storm damage on their property.)

If this is the political smarts of team Obama then I suspect this election will be even a lot closer than some experts expect. On the other hand, I am not one who has felt that Team Obama has been the Dems best political team. They have been aimed with luck (John McCain as their opponent) and favorable circumstances for the Ds (8 years of George W. Bush). And now they face Mitt Romney who makes tofu seem exciting.

Karl Rove must be watching this and salivating.

Expect to see Rosen’s comment in some future Romney ad.

UPDATE: >Talking Points Memo notes the Obama campaigns “swift rebuke” of Rosen’s comments — but also how the Romney campaign is seeking to use it:

After stumbling badly in the first day of the general election campaign, the Mitt Romney campaign is seeking to regroup by making a mountain out of what Democrats say is a molehill: the attack on Ann Romney’s choice to stay home and raise children by a Democratic CNN contributor Wednesday night.

Welcome to Hilary Rosengate.

As part of a panel on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” Rosen questioned whether Ann Romney was qualified to be talking about women’s economic issues since she’s “never worked a day in her life.” This launched a late-night Twitter offensive by Team Romney and a swift condemnation of Rosen’s remarks from Team Obama.

The Obama campaign’s rebuke came swifter and stronger than the Romney campaign’s response to Rush Limbaugh’s attacks on Sandra Fluke. At the time, Romney didn’t join other Republicans calling on Limbaugh to apologize, opening him up to accusations that Romney was afraid to take on a powerful GOP voice.

After a day in which they were knocked off course from their message on women and the economy, the Romney campaign was eager to push back Thursday, sensing Rosen’s remarks finally gave them the upper hand on an issue polling has shown to give Democrats an enormous edge among the female electorate. The Romney campaign hopes to make Rosen “a household name.”

The bottom line is that it was mind boggling bad politics, handing GOPers a new issue (the war on stay at home mothers?) and Rosen will have to somehow explain why she it was so terrible to criticize Michelle Obama but a woman who spent time with her kids and has an R in front of her name is somehow unqualified to weigh in on a political issue and one that involves her husband.

Once again: why independents (happily) remain independents.

And, once again, if this reflects the political smarts of Team Obama they could grab defeat from the jaws of victory that had seemingly been grabbed out of Republican’s jaws. You read Rosen’s comments and think, I thought only Fox News had moles?

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