Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The smallness and pettiness of Ann Romney

I realize this isn't a race for First Lady, that it's not Ann Romney challenging Michelle Obama, but the fact is, the first lady and the would-be first lady are prominent surrogates for their husbands, not least at the conventions, and are very much a part of the race. We may not like it, how spouses have more and more become political actors, and have more and more been treated as such, and how they're put in the difficult position of being both submissively supportive and willfully assertive as individuals, but it's just the way it is, and that means, alas, that they're fair game, that they're deserving of the sort of praise and criticism usually reserved for the candidates themselves and for their partisan surrogates.

And the fact is, compared to Michelle Obama, who last night gave a magnificent speech, the best I've ever seen or heard by a first lady or would-be first lady, Ann Romney, while seemingly quite pleasant, has appeared small and petty in contrast, and utterly phony when she's tried to connect.

Of course, it's a tough job trying to humanize Mitt Romney, and to persuade people that you and your husband aren't just an out-of-touch rich douchebag couple living a life of extreme privilege -- perhaps an impossible one. But hasn't just been Ann's attempted humanizing of Mitt. She'd waded into politics as well, and when she has, she's proven to be as out-of-touch, as arrogant, and as condescending as her husband.

Like when she referred to "you people" when defending Mitt's decision to release any more of his tax returns.

Like when she told Latino voters to get over their "biases" and spoke to them as if they're just a bunch of selfish small-business owners.

And like when, today, she told women to "wake up" and trust in Mitt:

"Women, you need to wake up," she told the largely female audience at a "Women For Mitt" rally in Findlay, Ohio. "Women have to ask themselves who is going to... be there for you. I can promise you, I know that Mitt will be there for you, he will stand up for you, he will hear your voices, he knows how to fix an economy, he's a can do kind of guy, he's a turnaround guy."

She can try, but this isn't going to work. Mitt is leading a party that is aggressively waging war on women -- I write this while listening to Sandra Fluke speak at the Democratic convention; how very fitting -- a party that has embraced an extemist anti-choice platform, that desires to disempower and humiliate women, that seeks to obliterate a women's right to be in control of her own body, indeed, to be in control of anything, a party that wants to silence women and suffocate their concerns altogether.

Romney and the Republicans won't be there for women. They won't stand up for them. They won't listen to them in any meaningful way. They've already proven, time and time again, that they won't.

No, I'm not saying that Mitt Romney hates women. I'm not saying he doesn't care at all. He's much more sensitive to women's issues, I think, than most in his party. But as he's moved further and ever further to the right, as he's embraced the right-wing mainstream of the Republican Party, and as he's run an ugly campaign based on a far-right agenda, selecting the anti-choice extremist Paul Ryan as his running mate and otherwise joining the Republican war on women, even if he usually prefers to remain silent and let others do the dirty work, refusing to condemn what his party is doing and what it stands for and therefore appearing to support and enable it, he has shown what he is really all about, or at least what he is willing to be about in his shameless quest for power.

Elizabeth Warren has just taken the stage in Charlotte. Now there's a strong, powerful woman.

Women don't need to "wake up." How fucking condescending. It's abundantly clear which candidate embraces them and stands up for them and which candidate pays lip service to women's issues while embracing an anti-woman agenda.

Ann may love her husband and think he's a great guy, and maybe even that he cares about women, politically and otherwise, but it's Barack Obama who is the one fighting for them against the forces that would keep them down.


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