Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hilary Rosen kerfuffle misses the point of Romney’s real disconnect with women

Democratic consultant Hilary Rosen, a CNN commentator unaffiliated with the Obama campaign, made a dumb remark that quickly became a media obsession. Ann Romney, she asserted, shouldn’t be called on to speak about economic pressures because the former first lady of Massachusetts had “never worked a day in her life.” Anyone who ever raised children knows it’s hard work, so it was a story “with legs.”
The Romney campaign, eager to get traction with the women’s vote, was quick to respond, and the Obama campaign quickly disavowed Rosen’s remark.

At first Rosen defended her statement, trying to put it in context, explaining that she had meant to point out the difficulty of both raising children and having no choice about also working outside the home, as two thirds to three quarters of American women do.

Ann Romney raised five boys, has done volunteer work, survived breast cancer and struggles with MS. She is warm and puts the human face on her businessman, bottom-

line husband. But the real story for and about women is not Ann Romney. It’s candidate Mitt, many of whose positions and policies are inimical to a majority of women. Yes, women share men’s concern about economic uncertainty, job creation and the federal debt. But they also are extremely focused on education, health and the environment. A majority disagree with Romney’s positions on reproductive rights, contraception and stem cell research. They respond more to rhetoric about community than about rugged individualism. And they are perfectly capable of figuring out when the expected GOP nominee is twisting the facts in a blatant pitch to close the gender gap.

And therein lies the story the media should be focusing on. Romney says that women have lost more jobs than men since Obama became President, but he’s conveniently not looking at the entire recession, which began at the end of 2007. According to the Wall St. Journal,  the number of male workers to fall during the sweep of the recession was 4.6 percent; the loss of female workers was 2.7 percent.

Male workers are more heavily engaged in manufacturing and construction work, which are the first jobs to go away (not reflected in the cherry-picked numbers Mitt Romney is using). After the male-dominated industries take the hit come losses of teachers, health care workers, clerks and other support staff, traditionally women. Then follow the state and local government budget cuts, where women are also disproportionately represented.

It’s Mitt Romney’s willingness to misinterpret the jobs numbers to appear sympathetic to women that shows his lack of sensitivity and understanding of women’s economic struggles. Women are legitimately annoyed by Hillary Rosen’s inartfully dismissing Ann Romney’s creds, but women are not going to be swayed by Mitt Romney’s matinee idol looks and fictitious interpretations of the economy and what to do about it.
I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts in the comments section below.


  1. Greetings Marjorie...thanks for sharing your thoughtful insights regarding the real issues that the media and all of us need to be paying attention to regarding Mitt Romney's mendacity and his alignment with policies that more and more are adversely impacting women on the state level and would on the federal level if he were elected president. As a son, brother, husband, father and grandfather, I for one, will continue to support our President Obama over Mr. Romney & Co. - JM

  2. A written message delivered con salsa! Thanks, Jose.

  3. Of course in late 2007, Obama wasn't even President yet... Do you really think that Romney should blame Obama for job numbers that predate his presidency? Perhaps I'm missing something here (your source is behind a paywall, so that may very well be the case!).

    Regarding the rhetoric of the race, Romney could fall back on his Morman roots. Anyone who knows Mormans, knows that they are very family and community-focused in a way that our country used to be, and many would like it to be again.

    What women "really think" about Romney or Obama is determined more by their political alignment than their gender. Consequently, I don't think any women are actually swayed by gender-based attacks on either candidate. What this is all about is ginning up the base. We've seen this before and I'm afraid we'll be seeing a lot more of it between now and November.