Friday, April 13, 2012

What did Ann Romney know & when did she know it?

So the Democrats lunge with Republican War on Women and the Republicans parry with the Democrat War on Moms. Each plays to stereotypes each has about the other.

Democratic Party apparatchik Hilary Rosen says something seriously stoopid about Mrs. Mitt Romney, and the Republicans leap on it in an effort to close Mitt Romney's serious problem with women as shown in recent poll--despite the President promptly disavowing the remark, which was never made by him anyway. Lucky for the Democrats, it's not Mitt Romney's minions making the stoopid remarks on his side--he manfully shoulders that burden himself, and, to the Democrats' delight, often. Daily it seems.

This tiffle does raise the question of whether Ann Romney an exemplary economic advisor for her husband on Women's Issues, then? She has birthed and raised five boys, and battled with serious illness. When she and her husband were newlyweds they did have to live cheaply. 

Also, in the Mormon Church, most of the work is done via "callings," lay positions that carry out most of the tasks done by the paid hierarchy and staff of most other religions. In that way Ann Romney has certainly been privy to the hardships of those in her wards who aren't as well-heeled as Ann and her kinfolk. Moreover, Mormon wards are defined geographically--most church members are required to attend a particular ward based on where they live, and ward boundaries are drawn to try to avoid economic segregation. 

So even if Ann Romney has herself led an almost entirely charmed life economically, she probably hasn't been as isolated from knowing about the travails of the rest of us as might be true if she wasn't actively involved in charitable church activities.

Still, the fact remains that she's always worked with a net. Rich parents, rich private schooling, husband from a rich family, and in pretty short order she's had a rich husband. It has been decades since she's had to make purchasing decisions that had to take the family budget into account. 

Ann Romney's challenge with understanding what most American women face has nothing to do with being a homemaker. It has to do with being very, very wealthy. Homemakers in struggling households learn a lot about personal economics. And even homemakers in comfortably middle class families still have to work within a budget--even in traditional patriarchal households where the husband handles all the money and gives his wife an allowance. 

It's great that Mitt Romney consults his wife about stuff and uses her as a sounding board. However, her isolation from having to work within a budget makes her direct experiences of family economics only relevant to less than 1% of American women.

Finally, we have the fact that Mrs. Romney has said that American women are concerned with the economy, not with restrictions on reproduction. Of course, for her, while having had five kids meant a lot of labor (literally), she could easily afford to have two or three times that many kids financially. Romney's dad paid for their college education. Not long after that, her main concern was how to manage a staff of 26--so I guess you could say she has executive experience. Just not budgeting experience.

She never had to worry about the price of having all those kids, or how she'd be able to afford medical care for one if that one was born with severe medical problems or acquired them (as with a crippling or maiming accident). And she hasn't had to worry about paying for contraception, since its cost has always been infinitesimal against her family income. 

Lucky lady. 


Anonymous said...

Your outline of these recent events are certainly accurate... but you surely must acknowledge that the shift of leverage from the left to the right, from the point of view of the Romney camp, is sublimely delicious.

Going forward, the Hilary Rosen gaffe made Ms. Romney sympathetic and provided her with a credible platform from which to speak to women's issues. Cannot imagine that a dumber mistake could be made by a professional political operative. Can you imagine, she has forced the President and First Lady to disavow her statement... she's toast.

Ehkzu said...

Makes me appreciate how much public campaign utterances are like gymnastics beam events.

That is, we can all walk in a straight line, and maybe even do a few simple jumps and stuff while doing so.

But the number of people who can do that and no more on a 4 inch wide beam five feet above the ground is really small.

So when you see any politician hesitate to answer a question, then speak slowly, carefully, and completely artificially...we should have some sympathy.

I'm saying this completely bipartisanly.

What they do it insanely difficult with the other side ready to pounce on anything and everything, twist it to suit their purposes, and run it until it totally wears out.

Kerry's I was for it then I was against it. Romney's I like to fire people.

Both those statements were entirely reasonable in context, but sounded awful as sound bites.

These days I don't know how they get two words out, frankly.