Sunday, April 15, 2012

Work, Parenthood, and Faux Apologies

Lost in the Hillary Rosen-Ann Romney flap (with a side of Bill Maher thrown in for good measure) is what Mitt Romney's position has been when the subject of the debate wasn't his wife. A video has surfaced of Mitt Romney discussing his view of welfare earlier this year before the upcoming New Hamsphire primary. It's easy to locate on major media sites (and probably YouTube), so I suggest you should watch the entire exchange. The short version is that he believes that those who are going to accept aid from the government, federal or state, should in return be required to take a job so that they can share in "the dignity of work." And of course, intentionally or not he's suggesting requiring unemployed mothers to get a job since they comprise the vast majority of welfare recipients.

So, we have a more clear understanding of how Mitt feels, especially since his legislative record reflects what he says in this speech, leaving little doubt that this is his actual opinion. Perhaps there can now be a sane and measured conversation.

Let's go back to what actually started this chain of events: Mitt Romney commenting on more than one occasion that Ann is his go-to source when he wants to know about women's issues and how the economy affects families. And that says more about him than it does her.

See, this actually has little to do with Ann, who by all accounts is a wonderful mother and person and has come through some serious health crises. This is about Mitt, who appears to seek counsel about the economic toll befalling non-wealthy American women from a person who was also born into privilege, married into privilege, and chose not to enter what most of us consider the workplace. She is no more qualified to give advice on the subject of everyday economics than I, a childless man, am qualified to give advice on parenting.

Now, if the discussion moves to what Romney said in Manchester, then that's another conversation entirely, and one that probably should be fleshed out. There are undoubtedly some people who could be working who choose not to, but there also will be people who cannot land a job whether it's "required" or not. It's not a simple debate with easy answers, but that's precisely why the debate should occur. But let's not obfuscate the real problem here: a man who's never known hardship seeking advice from his long-time companion who's also never known hardship about "ordinary Americans." And the counsel-giver has never worked in the public or private sector. That is the real issue here, and it goes to the heart of Romney's judgements and critical thinking skills.

So sure: exact the pound of flesh from Hillary Rosen, who's an easy target precisely because she does speak in sound bites and talking points instead of providing thoughtful commentary or insightful information. But understand, now that the dust has settled and people have had time to digest the topic, many are going to conclude that it could be a real problem to have a President, already seen as out-of-touch, who turns to a person in his same circumstances for most of his advice instead of reaching out to experts in the various disciplines needed to run the country.


Jamaxsum said...

I don't know squat and I don't pretend to. However, Similar to Mitt, I may have no idea on let's say giving birth. However, if the people I do or will represent overwhelmingly want xyz for or against pregnant women, then I need to represent their voice. Yup, Mitt is a spoiled person. I have no idea of polls or whether this idea is soley his or shared by others (like me). But the principal remains in terms of a "free lunch" or getting without giving. When people work their butts off and see othrs (true or not) perceived as free loaders, well, it really chaps our asses. And if I were one to give Mitt $, support or whatever, I'd be glad he is representing my voice, even though personally he has no clue what it's like to be pregnant or whatever.

Hajiii said...

I think Jamaxsum, like a lot of people, is missing part of CD"s and Hillary Rosen"s point (as Politically motivated as it was) that Mitt as a leader and not just a vox populi, swayed by the whims of the public, should not look to unqualified consultants for policy advice, and Mitt"s wife, in regards to employment issues of poor unwed mothers, employed or not, is most definitely unqualified to advise the potential leader of the free world on those issues. Having an opinion that resembles the emotional reactions of a majority of a voting block just doesn't strike me as enough for good government.