Deep within the firestorm of Hilary Rosen’s comments on Ann Romney this past Wednesday night burns a frightening concept. Rosen, quite rightly, has been the subject of condemnation because she dismissed Mitt Romney’s wife as “never having worked a day in her life.” Mrs. Romney responded on Twitter that raising five boys certainly involved work. Rosen has been lambasted ever since by Republicans, conservatives, and even her allies in the president’s reelection campaign. However, the nugget of her argument continues to be pushed by the progressive left. Ann Romney has no right to comment on economic matters because she’s not qualified. That little poisonous condiment is the premise in Rosen’s contemptuous elitist sandwich.
On Anderson Cooper 360, Rosen said 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 there's -- 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 how do we -- why we worry about their future.”
Rosen was attempting to single out Ann Romney and cast her as the Mrs. Howell on America’s Gilligan’s Island. In fact, on several occasions, the left has used that analogy against Mitt. Because they are rich, they can’t possibly understand the hoi polloi and their issues. In fact, Ann Romney, in Hilary Rosen’s estimation, is particularly unable to ‘feel’ the pain of economic issues due to their wealth.
That’s not how it was received and not how it was read. Instead the issue became whether stay at home parents are able to understand economic issues. Ann Romney handily sidestepped the class warfare part of Rosen’s little tirade, and altered the terms of the debate. The college dropout schooled the highly paid public relations expert and frequent advisor to the Democratic president. But, Rosen, not remembering the first rule of holes, decided to “clarify” her remarks. This made it even worse, because she revealed her real premise in the insult.
That very night Rosen took to her old stomping grounds at the Huffington Post and penned a little “explanation” of her viewpoint. Within her defensive posturing was this idea:
“So it begs the question, is Ann Romney Mitt's touchstone for women who are struggling economically or not? Nothing in Ann Romney's history as we have heard it -- hardworking mom she may have been -- leads me to believe that Mitt has chosen the right expert to get feedback on this problem he professes to be so concerned about.”
Talk about doubling down on the stupid. So, Mitt Romney confers with his wife. She talks with women throughout this nation hearing their stories and trials and tribulations. Ann then tells Mitt about what she’s hearing. Like a modern, respectful couple, they work together on issues and seek each other’s advice on ideas. Ann and Mitt Romney don’t sound like the characters on ‘Mad Men’, they sound like most of us.
But, Rosen argues that Mitt talking with his wife about women’s economic issues makes her an “expert?” Why would he need her to be an expert? What qualifies someone as an expert? Is there something inherent in being “qualified” to discuss women’s economic issues? What is the litmus test? Did Rosen just argue if you are a stay at home mom you aren’t qualified to speak to economics?
Apparently Rosen believes she is the arbiter of what makes one “qualified” to speak and who is not. From the Politico:
“Rosen's tweet read as follows: "I am raising children too. But u do know that most young american women have to earn a living AND raise their kids don't u?"
Rosen was trying to thread the needle by arguing only working women with children can speak to economic conditions on the ground. Since Ann Romney wasn’t one of those people, she was disqualified from making economic comment. You can see lurking in the shadows the premise behind Rosen’s argument. Only certain people may have informed opinions. Others are precluded from that. She will set the perimeters of who can be heard and who is to be silenced.
That set off even more of a blaze. Now the “Mommy Wars” became fully engaged. Rosen’s dismissal of stay at home mothers, part time working mothers, and women who don’t have children was complete. Rosen’s elitist class warfare premise enraged most of the female population of the United States. By creating a rubric for which women could speak to economic issues and which women could not, she revealed her own contempt for women as economic actors regardless of family status. Her deep-seated contempt for women’s independent thinking skills was mirrored by her feminist allies.
The president of NOW, Terry O’Neill said this, “That’s my understanding that’s an accurate statement, and that raises the exact issue that Hilary Rosen was trying to get to, which is do Mr. & Mrs. Romney have the kind of life experience and if not, the imagination, to really understand what most American families are going through right now?” In other words, NOW gets to decide who is qualified to speak for American women, certainly not just any American woman. A particular kind of life experience is necessary for a woman to be heard and Ms. O’Neill has that formula here somewhere.
From Time.com, Judith Warner had this to say about women who are unqualified to participate in economic discussions. “We all know, on the one hand, that there’s a certain portion of the population that feels not just left behind but generally dissed by what they identify as the evolution of attitudes and mores in our era: they’re the Sarah Palin constituency. But these conservative women were never going to vote for Obama anyway.” So, unless you are part of the Democratic Party, a women’s voice is irrelevant. In other words, if you don’t agree with the progressive/socialist agenda, your ideas aren’t worthy of attention.
And finally, even the Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky admits Rosen’s elitism was what got her into trouble.
“This whole fracas happened simply because conservatives saw an opportunity to accuse liberals of being elitist. There was a whiff of that in Rosen’s wording, but at least Rosen is affiliated with the side in American politics that wants women who didn’t grow up in Bloomfield Hills and marry well to have a chance to receive excellent health care if they ever find themselves in Ann Romney’s position.” ‘Ann Romney: Unrepresentative woman,’ April 13, 2012.
It is all about class warfare and choosing who gets to speak in our society. The radical left has taken it upon themselves to pick and choose who’s qualified and who isn’t. Their contempt for any voices other than Neo-Marxist Post-colonialist ones is striking. Hilary Rosen mangled her attempt to silence Ann Romney. Her doubling down on the stupid revealed her own deeply held prejudices against dissenting women. Rosen’s allies conveyed they too despise and dismiss any voice which isn’t kneejerk radical. That dark shadow of undemocratic disdain for independent women’s opinion has revealed itself.
Boy, is it ugly.