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The media narrative on the Hilary Rosen / Ann Romney controvery is way out of hand and the outrage is completely manufactured. Politico now asks: "Dem war on Moms?" That is the height of absurdity. Hilary Rosen herself is a mom. Is she warring on herself?

Most of the sources don't put her quote in context, they just take out the "she hasn't worked a day in her life" and then pile on paragraphs of irrelevant faux outrage from Ann Romney. Here is what Rosen actually said:

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 am 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 how do we worry - and why we worry about their future.  I think, yes, it's about these positions and, yes, I think there will be a war of words about the positions.

Clearly, Rosen is not trying to say that Ann Romney has literally never done any work-- even if she had no children, she would have done chores around the house (presumably), would have done homework from when she was in school, would have helped her husband in various informal roles. As a mother herself, Rosen knows that raising children is 'work.'

Rosen is using the word 'work' to mean formal, paid work. As in "I went to work." Or "I'm out of work." When people use the word in that sense, they're clearly not saying that no work is done at home, that the uemployed never wash the dishes or mow the lawn. They're using the word work to mean formal work. It's a difference in semantics that the Romney campaign deliberatley-- and shrewdly-- took out of context, but that doesn't mean they're justified in getting away with it.

A proper rebuttal to Rosen's comment would be if Ann Romney produced some evidence that she once did formal, paid work-- perhaps a part time job in high school or college? Perhaps a summer stint as a lifeguard or something like that?

Rosen clearly wasn't trying to go after Romney's wife for the sake of spite; she was talking about Romney's quote that he uses his wife as his advisor on women's issues. She was pointing out that maybe his wife can't understand the economic hardships faced by the vast majority of women in this country. That maybe Romney should have more diverse advisors to tell him about what women face. That's a legitimate criticism. We have a guy running to be President, who seems to imply that all he knows about what women care about come from one woman who doesn't face the economic challenges most women care about? That's a problem.

There's nothing wrong with what Rosen said-- absolutely nothing-- except for purely tactical reasons of being susceptible to manipulation. But almost every we say is susceptible to manipulation- and the Republicans can't be allowed to get away with it without resistance.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

    by randomfacts on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 03:17:31 PM PDT

  •  A better question for Mrs. Romney (12+ / 0-)

    is this:

    Mrs. Romney, in what way are you an expert about women's economic lives? Please bring specific details of your own personal experiences to bear on the larger financial issues facing women today.

    The Romney campaign thinks it's being clever, using Ann Romney as a shield to gain women's support. Let's call the bluff:  if she's his policy expert on women's economic roles and lives, let her come out into the limelight and talk about her know-how.

  •  you forget (6+ / 0-)

    we are entering full-blown nonsense season. Media stories get to make even less sense than usual, because regardless of the facts, "it's good news for ___" politically.

    Optics over everything.

  •  Let's ask her what 'choice' she made. (4+ / 0-)

    Between stay at home mom, and ??????

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 03:38:01 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for this diary, (12+ / 0-)

    it's exactly what I've been thinking and feeling all day.  I'm disconcerted by the number of progressives here who have equaled the right in their intemperate remarks regarding Ms. Rosen, although for different reasons.

    Context is everything and when you read her WHOLE QUOTE, you understand what she was saying.  Yes, she did mean "work" in the paid job sense.  

    I have tried to point out on a few threads here that Hillary Rosen is a strong liberal, a smart one, and not someone who would take out after Ann Romney for the sake of it.

    The fact is, Ann Romney has become her husband's voice for dealing with the "women" issue.  And her job in the last few weeks has been to go around telling everyone that American women care about the economy, not the republicans war on their choices. So, welcome to the fray, Ann.

    When I think about the number of republican reps and pundits who have lit into Michelle Obama and it's no big deal except on liberal blogs, well...


  •  Someone needs to point out to Ann Romney (7+ / 0-)

    that she is lucky she has a choice.  

    Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don't vote.

    by Renie57 on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 03:50:57 PM PDT

  •  i think rosen's comment was dumb (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and axelrod's response was necessary and right on, and took care of the problem.  

    Politics is not arithmetic. It's chemistry.

    by tamandua on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 04:02:58 PM PDT

    •  Hillary (0+ / 0-)

      Earlier this week much of the chatter was about the smart Hillary.
      Now it is about the dumb Hillary.

      No gain attacking Mitt's wife ever.

      •  There is no gain in attacking Ms. Rmoney because (0+ / 0-)

        America is too fucking brain washed and dumb to get it.

        Every time I look around, I feel so low my head seems underground. Well, every day just seems to bring bad news. Leaves me here with the post world war two blues. ~ Al Stewart

        by Saint Jimmy on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 07:21:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Rosen also, imo, sincerely apologized. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "...Can't do nothing, girl, without somebody bugging/ I used to think that it was me/ But then I learned it wasn't." --Salt NPepa None of Your Business

      by chicating on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 04:51:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Axelrod (0+ / 0-)

      is speaking as a representative of the campaign. We aren't. We have a lot more freedom to go full-throated with a defense of Rosen's comments, because they'll still be used to smear Democrats-inclding Rosen- if we don't. I think Axelrod would want us to use that freedom to the fullest extent possible. When you don't fight back, you lose.

      "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

      by randomfacts on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 04:54:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it was a bad comment (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG, erush1345

        off target

        i am for defending good comments, not stupid ones

        rosen had no good reason for such a thoughtless comment

        as a corporate lobbyist you'd think she'd be slicker

        i'd just as soon never hear from her any more

        Politics is not arithmetic. It's chemistry.

        by tamandua on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 05:31:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I agree. (4+ / 0-)

    I've heard my stay-at-home mom many times use the word work the same way Rosen did, which is to reference paid employment.  When my mom has commented about herself saying that she's "never worked," she means explictly that she's been a stay-at-home mom, she most definitely does not mean that she's never put in effort to maintain the house or never put in effort to raise her children.  And it's clear that that's exactly what Rosen was saying about Romney, but people want to freak out, and so they latch onto a distraction rather than actually address the realities that average Americans are facing, which includes severe income inequality that frequently prevents parents from being able to make the same choice Ann was lucky to be able to make to be a stay-at-home mom.  But dealing with reality is too hard, and it means that millionaires will have to pay more taxes, which they don't want to because they're so damn greedy, so instead people invent a shiny object to distract Idiot Americans.

  •  What difference framing makes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Had Hilary Rosen said, "not every woman has the luxury of being able to choose to raise children because her partner brings in multi-millions every year," then this would be a non-issue.  But because she said, "Ann Romney never worked a day in her life,"  she handed the opposition the opportunity to misdirect.  

    Too bad; an opportunity missed.  

    Glad to see the president acknowledge the value of the work it takes to raise a family.  He's not going to play into their narrative, but whether a woman has children or not, they engage with the economy.  The question is which party stands for policies that make women's economic lives fairer, easier, more prosperous?

    •  It's even more devious (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ""not every woman has the luxury of being able to choose to raise children because her partner brings in multi-millions every year," would have made no sense because the discussion wasn't about the Romneys' children. The children never entered into the discussion until the Romney team deviously inserted it into the discussion. Even in your monday morning quarterbacking you're still not getting it right. This is why I think we should cut Hilary Rosen some slack. Any good faith interpretation of her comments wouldn't have resulted in any problem.

      "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

      by randomfacts on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 04:52:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good faith? (0+ / 0-)

        You expect good faith from the Romney campaign?  These are the people who put out an ad with President Obama saying, "If we keep talking about the economy, we'll lose."  The implication being that the economy under his presidency has been so bad that he knows it is a losing issue for him.  The actual context of the statement was from the 2008 campaign when CANDIDATE Obama said, "John McCain recently said, If we keep talking about the economy, we'll lose."  When confronted with this the Romney campaign stood by their ad as being truthful.

        Good faith indeed.  (And yes, I understand that you get it, just playing with the words here.)

        Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

        by kbman on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 07:55:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've been both (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    randomfacts, kbman, Debby

    a stay-at-home mom and a working mom. Neither were "choices", just things I had to do at that time.

    "Work" is what you do for pay.

    Very few stay-at-home moms get a paycheck for all the tasks they perform for their family.

    The only people who get paid for doing the same tasks as stay-at-home moms are working nannies, housekeepers, cooks, groundskeepers, maintenance people, shoppers, chauffuers, concierges, pediatric nurses, pre-school teachers, grade school teachers, secretaries, book keepers/accountants, personal trainers, tutors, prostitutes, and event organizers (there's more, but you get the idea). They receive paychecks in exchange for the time and effort they spend on the tasks they perform.

    Stay-at-home moms do all of that and more, but they rarely receive paychecks for all of that.  They receive compensation in other ways, but not with paychecks.

    When I was a stay-at-home mom, I never considered what I did was "work", even if it was hard to get it all done.  I performed tasks and did chores for the benefit of the family and received a roof over my head, food, clothes, and some control over how the family income was spent in exchange for that.  I got to have more control over how my children were raised and cared for, and I got to receive more of their attention. I was able to save the family money and to make economies that benefitted the whole family, but at some cost to myself. I got to be a mom.

    As a working mom, I received a paycheck, payed social security, payed taxes for medicare/medicaid, payed income taxes, had health insurance and an employer-provided retirement fund, plus paid sick leave and vacation time with co-workers covering my job while I was gone. Plus, I still did most of the stay-at-home mom stuff. I was mom, with work added.

    All knowledge is worth having.

    by Noddy on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 05:18:36 PM PDT

  •  Amen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I agree.  When the comments were made it seems to me she was talking about participation in the economic system as a paid worker.  I will grant that Stay at Home moms do face economic challenges generally, and so share many of the concerns of the economy with the "waged" population... except for A. Romney who by all accounts has had very few economic worries generally.

  •  Republican policy on Maternity Leave should (0+ / 0-)

    settle whether or not they believe that parenting is "work".

    From an article at HuffPo last year:

    The [Human Rights Watch] report, "Failing its Families," says at least 178 countries have national laws guaranteeing paid leave for new mothers, while the handful of exceptions include the U.S., Swaziland and Papua New Guinea. More than 50 nations, including most Western countries, also guarantee paid leave for new fathers.

    Past efforts in Congress to enact a paid family leave law have floundered, drawing opposition from business lobbyists who say it would be a burden on employers.

    Instead, there is the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, which enables workers with new children or seriously ill family members to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. By excluding companies with fewer than 50 employees, it covers only about half the work force, and many who are covered cannot afford to take unpaid leave.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 06:50:08 PM PDT

  •  RWers will take anything out of context (0+ / 0-)

    What Hilary Rosen was saying is that Mrs. Romney hasn't had to deal with being laid off or having to work multiple jobs just to get by.

    The Repubs and RW media will take any statement out of context if it fits their narrative.

  •  Republicans are currently desperate (0+ / 0-)

    to reverse their serious, crippling, and self-inflicted gender gap.

    Expect them to grasp at any straw available. Or if they can't find a pretext, they'll just keep making stuff up.

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