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SaraKay Smullens

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In Defense of Hilary Rosen: Let's Get Real

Posted: 04/18/2012 2:12 pm

Unless you have been living under a rock you know that Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, a CNN political contributor and a working mom, in uncharacteristic emotional blindness, stated on CNN's AC360 that Ann Romney has "actually never worked a day in her life."

In so doing, Rosen made it possible for Ann Romney to made a heralded debut on Twitter, stating emphatically (and truthfully, of course), "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work."

I have never met Rosen; but, in addition to her keen mind, she is persistent, a quality that no doubt has contributed to her professional success. In this instance, however, it contributed to a firestorm. Instead of apologizing immediately for an insensitive and rude statement, she tweeted herself into a deeper hole defending and explaining,"... I meant she never had to care for her kids AND earn a paycheck like most American women."

It took little time for Hilary Rosen to be laid low by strategists and family members from both parties. Obama's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, rightly posted, "Families should be off limits on campaigns, and I personally believe stay at home moms work harder than most of us do." David Axelrod, not a harsh man, chose harsh words, stating "disappointment," but also calling Rosen's words "inappropriate and offensive."

All of this naturally led to Ann Romney's family rallying around her. Her son, Josh, posted that his mom "is one of the smartest, hardest working women I know. Could have done anything with her life, chose to raise me." It also led to Romney sharing the pain and anxiety of her battles with both breast cancer and MS, a reality that effectively demonstrated that she surely understands suffering, as well as terror.

What all of this shows, of course, is how the real issues that plague this country can effectively be buried. Hilary Rosen did speak thoughtlessly. But what she meant (and awkwardly tried to explain) was obvious: "Having a husband who is an excellent wage owner (and also who loves you dearly and supports you emotionally) gives a woman a safety net that most women, who must work, and cannot chose to be at home, just do not have. And neither do their children."

What eons ago was called "petticoat politics" should have been retired eons ago. Yet it persists as dangerous, time-consuming diversion, taking on a life of its own. Ann Romney, at a closed door fundraiser for her husband's presidential campaign, told those present she had received an "an early birthday present" because Rosen was "critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment, and I loved it."

When Romney was questioned by ABC's Diane Sawyer about her words, she said "that wasn't how I meant it," countering that the "present" was not the ugly backlash to Rosen's comments, and stating that it really was "the fact that women are talking about the deficit spending and the economy. I love that."

Ann Romney, an astute and thoroughly likeable woman, used strategic coverup for this interview. The Rosen misstatement did not lead to women's discussion of deficit spending and the economy. We have been focusing on it since danger set in. Romney, at the fundraiser, meant exactly what she said.

Hilary Rosen, on the other hand, used awkward words, devoid of tact, and did not say what she meant. Her words were an attempt to support and defend moms and their children who are the most vulnerable, those with no safety net; and she sincerely and wisely fears for their future.

 
 
 

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