Sunday, May 20, 2012

Campbell Brown: Romney spokesperson

By Richard K. Barry 

Campbell Brown, former news personality for CNN, has a piece in the Sunday New York Times in which she criticizes President Obama for condescending to women. In essence, she argued that women neither want nor need any special favours from the government. Social policy doesn't matter. All women require is that the economy function properly, which, apparently, is all it would take for them to be happy and succeed. Just fix the damned economy and get out of our way.

Let's see. Which campaign has a message very much like that? Yes, it's the Romney presidential campaign.

But, it's okay kids because Campbell inserts a disclaimer in her piece that her husband is an advisor to Romney, though she herself is an independent journalist with no affiliation with the campaign.

What then, as an independent journalist, does she want us to understand?

She tells us that family and friends are far more important than government intervention to friends of hers who have been struggling economically. While she doesn't actually argue for smaller government, she might as well. Shades of "a thousand points of light?"

In fact, the whole piece is a Romney campaign ad. She writes:

Another recent Pew Research Center survey found that voters, when thinking about whom to vote for in the fall, are most concerned about the economy (86 percent) and jobs (84 percent). Near the bottom of the list were some of the hot-button social issues.

Tiffany Dufu, who heads the White House Project, a nonpartisan group aimed at training young women for careers in politics and business, got a similar response when she informally polled young women in her organization. "The issues that have been defined as all women care about are way off — young women feel it has put them further in a box they don’t necessarily want to be in," she told me. "Independence is what is so important to these women."

Yes, in Campbell Brown's view, based on conservations with her women friends, "the economy overwhelms everything else."

Brown recognizes that some of the things said by people like Rick Santorum have not been helpful to the GOP cause when it comes to women. She cites his criticism of women in combat or his calling a child from rape "a gift in a very broken way."

But, Campbell suggests, these are just little blips on the screen that don't mean anything.

I'm not so sure.

What about the House's refusal to renew the Violence Against Women Act or Republicans and fundamentalists launching constant attacks on women’s legal right for abortion? Governor Scott Walker quietly repealed Wisconsin's equal pay law in April. State Senator Glen Grothman (R) led the effort because he believes that pay discrimination is a myth driven by liberal women's groups. And there's Rush Limbaugh who launched a three-day tirade against Sandra Fluke. Limbaugh called her a slut and a whore simply because she testified before a Congressional Committee concerning Women's Reproductive Health Care. The GOP leadership tip-toed around Rush's comments like they always do.

There's more, but I'm just making a point.

Brown assures us that her guy, Mitt, should not be confused with Santorum or anyone else who attacks women and, she says, women understand that. Problem is Mitt doesn't have a backbone and won't stand up to anyone if it means losing a vote. We'll see how strong he is standing up for woman's rights both within the GOP and with the general electorate. Of course, to Brown there is no such thing as a woman's right, there's only the economy.

On the substance of it, to suggest that President Obama is being condescending to women because he advocates for them is a pretty sweet position to take. To suggest that the attainment of equality in America for all groups has only ever required a strong economy is to badly misunderstand the history of the nation.

It assumes that the rules of the game are already fair for everyone. They are not. This is a classic Republican position. If Campbell wants to make her case as a Republican, she is welcome to do so. For her to suggest that she is speaking as an independent journalist is nonsense and dishonest.

What she has to say are Romney campaign speaking points and she shouldn't embarrass herself by suggesting otherwise.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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