Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Mrs. Romney, Not Unlike Mr. Romney

Call it reverse sexism or perhaps sexism meets condescension.      Whatever it is, one must never, ever criticize the wife of a male politician, even if the politician himself is ridiculed every time he turns around.

Maybe Mitt Romney deserves to be mocked.     We know him partly by his quotes, including

*Corporations are people, my friend.
*I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.
*I'm not concerned about the very poor.   We have a safety net there.
*I should tell my story.    I'm also unemployed.
*There were a couple of times that I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.

More recently, he noted his wife "drives a couple of Cadillacs" and that he doesn't follow NASCAR "but I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners."

Those quotes were widely disseminated, sometimes in context, sometimes not.        As a whole, if not individually, they paint a fairly accurate portrait of the 2012 GOP presidential nominee and were the subject of much criticism, some of it biting, in the media.       Now the candidate's wife, Ann Romney, has made an interesting comment.     She was quoted in full by the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza as saying

[O]ne thing this disease has been for me has been a wonderful teacher. And with that comes an ability for compassion for others that are suffering. And for me, I want to make my family bigger. Those that are suffering from M.S. or cancer or any disease I feel like I want to throw my arms open and say, welcome to my family and welcome to the place where I’ve been and, so, you know, we can be poor in spirit and I don’t look — I don’t even consider myself wealthy which is am interesting thing. It can be here today and gone tomorrow, and how I measure riches is by the friends I have and the loved ones I have and the people I care about in my life and that is where my values are and those are my riches so for me having done through a difficult period in my life both with M.S. and with breast cancer it has done something to my heart and it’s softened my heart and made me realize there are many people suffering in this country and they are suffering from things that aren’t financial — and some people are suffering from things that are financial, as well — but those that are suffering, for me, I just have a larger capacity for love, and for understanding.

Cillizza criticizes the liberal Center for American Progress for not presenting the entire quote, thereby creating the unfair impression that Ann Romney is out-of-touch about her family's wealth.    He writes

“I don’t even consider myself wealthy,"  Ann Romney said in an interview with Fox News on Monday. The remark was immediately chopped into a handy, dandy You Tube clip by Think Progress, a liberal blog affiliated with the Center for American Progress.

At some point, presumably soon after Cillizza's blog, Think Progress updated its original post, presenting Mrs. Romney's entire quote and including from Fox News' Neil Cavuto the question which prompted the statement:

Even in the face of attacks on your husband, or the famous Cadillac comment, that he [owns] two Cadillacs, or he says things that strike some as being out of touch, you defend him, but you don’t dwell on it, you shake your head as does he, but does it pound again and again, especially in light of Newt Gingrich now piling on, saying that your husband, maybe you by extension, the Romney family in general, is oblivious given your wealth, to the everyday concerns of average folks, like gasoline prices, like all this stuff? What do you say to that? 

As CAP's Alex Seitz-Wald commented, "The full context of Ann Romney’s question-and-answer makes clear that she was asked about the Romney family’s financial wealth."

Pretty slick, Chris.      Defend a wife of a candidate- always a safe, politically correct option- as "the victim of a bit of selective editing/purposeful misunderstanding on the part of Think Progress."         And then fail to provide full context yourself by neglecting to include the question to which she was responding.      

The query was not about a friend of hers with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer and how that has affected Ann's appreciation of friends and of life itself.       We have no doubt that Ann Romney, has known seriously ill people, is compassionate and values close friendships. Rather, the question was posed in light of the increasing evidence that the candidate is oblivious to the economic concerns of the American people, given the great wealth of the Romney family.        Ann Romney gave her answer:     "I don't even consider myself wealthy, which is an interesting thing."

Yes, it is.

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