Oh sure, we all laughed when a week and a half ago Politico declared Ann Romney Mitt’s “secret weapon” and “the Romney Democrats fear most.” That was immediately followed by her astonishing “unzip Mitt” remarks, causing much hilarity in the blogosphere.
But the media establishment’s prophecy was fulfilled yesterday, wasn’t it? The attempt to turn Ann Romney into some kind of relatable Everywoman reached its fruition with the ginned-up Hilary Rosen flap; suddenly Rosen’s clumsy comment was manipulated into an attack on stay at home moms and the rabid right pounced.
Democrats are trying to unring this bell, but it ain’t happening. We’ll be hearing about this all weekend because the Republicans got their first win in the message wars in months, and they won’t be dropping it. Not when every poll shows Romney tanking with women voters. Finally, Republicans had an opportunity to steer the conversation away from the War On Women which, despite 135 actual laws passed in 2011 affecting women’s reproductive lives, the GOP could only lamely call “fake.” Now it’s been twisted into a “war on families” and “war on moms” (there’s now a #WarOnMoms hashtag on Twitter), dovetailing neatly with the GOPs framing of Democrats as anti-family, ready with the forceps to yank the fetus from every pregnant, white Christian woman they see.
This thing played out in predictable fashion: the right wing is reacting to something that was never said, just what they were told was said by those with an interest in stretching the truth. The media has thus far failed to distinguish between what was actually said and what the Republican Party wants them to think was said, because, Look! Shiny-sparkly horse-racey thingie over there! Stop me if you’ve seen this movie before.
The left is a little shocked at how readily the national punditry co-opted the Republican messaging here, but they shouldn’t be. The Republicans always have the Wingnut Wurlitzer ready to exploit the smallest slight. It just goes to show, the right-wing still rules the discourse. What Rosen actually said is that Mitt Romney is using his wife to inform him on women’s issues, when her life is no more typical of the average American woman’s than is his. That was completely distorted and manipulated into a non-existent attack on stay at home moms, something she never said. And we’re off to the races.
As fauxtroversies go, this one is playing out in all the predictable ways. Rosen apologized in less than 24 hours, President Obama and Joe Biden have both thrown Rosen under the bus, and the Wingnut Wurlitzer is continuing to push the story because, let’s face it, it’s the first lucky break the Romney campaign has had.
But it’s been fun to watch the right wingers milk this for all its worth, in sometimes astonishing ways. The Catholic League’s Twitter feed has been a predictable source of amusement. First we have the gay-bashing of lesbian mom Hilary Rosen:
Wait, what? We thought you guys loved adoption! After getting smacked for that one, the following Tweet struck me as odd:
Um … Simone de Beauvoir? The French intellectual who died nearly 30 years ago? This is relevant here how? Pretty sure most Americans think Simone de Beauvoir is either a brand of perfume or a former judge on American Idol.
Watching all of this play out yesterday I wondered how long before the Romney camp exploited this fauxtroversy for donations. The answer is, not long at all:
Wow, you just couldn’t have planned it any better than that. Personally, I don’t think this Everyman/Everywoman schtick is going to stick. I’m already seeing big push-back, because there was an underlying truth to Rosen’s comment that no Frank Luntz-approved messaging can disguise: the economic reality is that millions of women don’t have the choice to stay at home and raise their kids the way Ann Romney did.
I’ll celebrate the choice of the wife of a millionaire to stay at home and raise the kids like I’ll celebrate the winner of a yacht race or a polo match.
Ain’t that the truth.