The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog. Check it out too.
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.