Let’s review a bit.
In previous months, Republicans have introduced legislation that includes forcing women seeking a legal procedure to undergo an unnecessary transvaginal probe, sought to define personhood in such a way that would make hormonal contraception illegal, tried to prevent regulation that would mandate insurance companies cover contraception, voted for an amendment to the highway bill that would allow any employer to refuse to cover any procedure for which the employer could invent any plausible objection, and voted to allow employers to fire women who are using contraception for birth control.
In previous months Rush Limbaugh called a law student who tried to testify before Congress about the importance of contraception coverage a slut and a prostitute, demanded she post sex videos online, and falsely claimed she wanted taxpayers to subsidize her sexual activity. A Rick Santorum billionaire funder longed for the good old days when women used Bayer aspirin squeezed between their knees to keep from getting pregnant.
Those things happened. It wasn’t a hallucination. But then this happened:
In case you can’t (or don’t want to) play that video, here’s what Hilary Rosen said:
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 why do we worry about their future. […] He just 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.
So, I guess Republicans win. Wait, what?
First of all, be honest: did you know who Hilary Rosen was before any of this happened? I didn’t, and I spend way too much time watching and reading about politics. How did she go from CNN contributor to Obama adviser? She’s not an Obama adviser. She doesn’t work for the DNC. She’s a CNN contributor. When asked about this issue by CNN’s John King, David Axelrod (an actual Obama adviser, fwiw) said, “She’s your employee, not ours.” But suddenly right wing blogs and commentators are doing everything they can to link Rosen to Obama. As AngryBlackLady says:
At the rate the wingnuts are going, by day’s end, Hilary Rosen will be Obama’s Special Ambassador to Ladyholes.
Secondly, Rosen was responding (badly) to Romney’s insistence that he understands what women care about because he listens to his wife, and she listens to women. Okay, well, I’d kind of like a president who will listen directly to women, but aside from that, Rosen’s point was that Ann Romney might not be the best person to explain what working mothers care about since she doesn’t have (or need) a job outside her home. The Republican freakout suggesting that this reveals a “war on motherhood” is ridiculous on its face.
I have nothing against Ann Romney and I think it is wonderful that she had the ability to choose to stay at home to raise her children. My wife left a job that she loved when our first son was born to be a stay-at-home mom, and it doesn’t make her any less liberal. We are fortunate enough that she can make that choice. Some women aren’t as fortunate, and mothers who must work outside the home and be full-time mothers (is there any other kind?) might have experiences and struggles that are not obvious to someone in Ann Romney’s position. Recognizing that is not an attack on motherhood.
Republicans might want to consider that one of the reasons that they are tanking with women isn’t just their policies but the obvious fact that they seem to think women are stupid. The language around these ultrasound bills that force women to view a sonogram seems to imply that pregnant women might not understand they are pregnant. Or that they haven’t already thought long and hard about their decision. Or that they are so emotionally volatile that a picture might change their minds.
This belief that women are stupid led John McCain to think that picking a VP candidate that took positions completely antithetical to the majority of women would still help him with women because that VP candidate had a vagina.
The belief that women are stupid is what led the Romney campaign to send out two female Republican House members to vouch for Romney’s support for the Ledbetter Fair Pay law, even though those two women voted against the law. (But they have vaginas, women! It’s all good, right?)
And it’s the same stupidity that makes national Republicans think that women around the country will look at Hilary Rosen’s badly worded point and conclude that Obama hates motherhood and that women would be better off with Romney.
Rosen’s gaffe was bad. Thinking Rosen’s gaffe should make women prefer Romney over Obama is worse.