Election 2012

Should Ann Romney Have Skipped the Part About Early Struggles with Mitt? Yes—and the Rest of it Too.

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Fox News commentator Juan Williams has been taking it on the chin from Republicans and conservatives for criticizing Ann Romney's speech at the RNC. Williams audaciously suggested that Mrs. Romney looked like a "corporate wife" whose story of young struggle wouldn't resonate with those of us not born into money (Ann's father was rich and so was Mitt's).

Ask the folks at Twitchy, a right-wing Twitter aggregator put together by Michelle Malkin, "How did [Williams] use that airtime to display his renowned "real reporter" skills? By engaging in the very misogynist rhetoric that Obama operatives have hurled at Ann Romney." My favorite tweet in the thread they compiled is this one: "Juan Williams…..you and [Five co-host Bob] Beckel will be the reason I cancel FOX….Bastards."

I didn't think that Williams' comment was misogynistic, or inaccurate for that matter. Look, if you're born into wealth and stay wealthy your whole life, the one thing you can't lay claim to is being poor. Even in America, there are some things that money can't buy. And one of them is an impoverished past.

But here's Mrs. Romney's reminiscence:

There were many reasons to delay marriage, and you know? We just didn't care. We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, and ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. Those were very special days.

Then our first son came along. All at once I'm 22 years old, with a baby and a husband who's going to business school and law school at the same time, and I can tell you, probably like every other girl who finds herself in a new life far from family and friends, with a new baby and a new husband, that it dawned on me that I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.

This would be a banal Love Story sort of memory at best, but the fact that Ann and Mitt were both rich kids and only one of them was going to college at that time even queers that deal. Williams' point was basically that Ann Romney's invocation of struggle really comes across as phoney.

Here's a fuller explanation by him:

The wonderful reality is that both Ann and Mitt are scions of wealthy families. They were born to lives of privilege—she, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist and he, the son of an automobile company CEO and governor of Michigan.

They may have started out in a small apartment but she was married[to] a young man studying for a Harvard business and law degree. Their parents could afford to send them to elite universities like Stanford and Harvard without needing scholarships or financial aid. And then her talented husband had monumental success in the corporate world.

It does not make sense to me to talk about that couple having struggles similar to most Americans. They never had to live with economic fear of being laid off from a job or losing their health insurance.

More here.

I'm on record as saying my favorite political spouse is Judith Steinberg Dean, married to former Gov. Howard (D-Vt.). Dr. Dean (she's an M.D. too) refused to play the anointed role of wife or husband who "humanizes" her counterpart and she refused to participate in a gross form of political spectacle with roots in aristocratic court culture.

Would there were more like her. And fewer bits like the old Al-Tipper Gore Kiss (shiver) or the whole spectacle of fake happy Kennedy clan marriages that somehow prove that the land will be fertile and the harvest strong. Look, maybe only 40 percent of Americans believe in evolution, but we're not so primitive or atavistic as to think that the personal life of a political leader (male or female) has any connection to the health of the body politic.