Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Double Standard

ABC News reports that both Michelle Obama and Ann Romney are decidedly more popular than their husbands.    First Lady Michelle

Obama is seen favorably by 69 percent of the public, unfavorably by 24 percent – not her best rating (76-16 percent in March 2009) but a broadly positive one. Her favorability rating is 13 points higher than her husband’s; her unfavorable score, 16 points lower.

Romney’s rating is 40-30 percent favorable-unfavorable in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. While much less positive than Obama’s, some of that has to do with Romney’s shorter time in the spotlight: Thirty percent are undecided about her, compared with 7 percent undecided about Obama.

Romney, in any case, does better than her husband’s 35-47 percent rating last week. She’s a scant 5 points higher than Mitt Romney in favorability, but a broader 17 points lower in unfavorable ratings. As noted last week, Mitt Romney’s basic popularity ratings are the weakest for any presumptive presidential nominee in ABC/Post polls during primary seasons since 1984.

Ann Romney apparently has been a big hit on the campaign trail and in the media.      On Monday she appeared at the Connecticut Republican Party’s Prescott Bush Awards Dinner in Stamford and gave a speech which reporter Andrew Kaczynski described as "intense and personal (which) received a rapturous reception.    It was, several members of the crowd told Buzzfeed, 'incredible.;"       Kaczynski also credited the candidate's wife with having "alluded to the fact that not all women can stay at home saying

I love the fact that there are women out there who don’t have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids. Thank goodness that we value those people too. And sometimes life isn’t easy for any of us.

Whoa.   Let's back that up a bit.    "I love the fact that there are women out there who don't have a choice?"     Not all candidates or their wives come out in favor of denying choice to women.    Oh, sure, they do oppose choice in reproductive decisions- but that's framed as opposition to abortion, considered by half or more of the population as killing.     They don't actually say they're opposed to giving women a choice
But that's not all.   Mrs. Romney is glad those women "must go to work and they still have to raise the kids."      Certainly, millions of such women do extremely well at their job and at raising their children.     But it's probably not a happy situation that so many of Ann's gender have to do both.    Something has gone awry in society and being cheered that some women have no choice but to raise children and go out to a job seems a little, well, perverse.

And, ahem, wasn't it a mere few weeks ago, when, defending Ann Romney's life choice, Republicans (and President Obama) were solemnly intoning (accurately) that raising children is real work?    Here is Ann Romney, again:  ".... and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids."     Go to work and still raise the kids?   Isn't that work?

It's not surprising that the wives of male presidential candidates are more popular than the candidates themselves.    There is the favorable media the spouses generally receive, as in this instance, and probably a lower expectation of the wives, who are not expected to be political professionals.    That in turn leads to application of a lower standard in evaluating their statements.     Consider for a moment if Mitt Romney had explicitly welcomed a denial of choice to women as well as additional, mandatory duties for mothers, and implied a stark distinction between "work" and "raising the kids."
If the candidate himself had made such a ridiculous statement, the remainder of the race would be played out just to satisfy the tradition of presidential campaigns.    It would be, in effect, over.    The lack of attention paid to what would by any candidate on any level be considered an unforgivable slap in the face to women (of any station) and a monumental gaffe is remarkable and a reflection of the condescension applied to the wives of male presidential candidates.

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