The latest synthetic outrage in the Presidential race is over a remark by Hilary Rosen. She appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 on April 11th. This is what she said: “What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country, saying, ‘Well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.’ Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.”
You can imagine the outrage, and it caused President Obama to distance himself. Hilary herself later apologized.
The problem is that while she worded it poorly, she had a point. If Governor Romney depends on his wife for the length, depth, and breadth of “what women want,” we should all be concerned. I understand that while her role as a wife and mother gives her a great deal of credibility in some circles, her experience is far from complete. While she certainly has worked, she hasn’t had the experience of many women in America.
By way of illustration, I remember an incident as a seminarian with the Stigmatine Fathers and Brothers. We were told that we would spend a day working at the small print shop they ran as a way of “achieving solidarity with the working man.” It was actually kind of a fun day and I enjoyed talking with the employees of the press, but I have to say that it did nothing to achieve solidarity with anyone. If I had the chance to speak with the priest in charge, I’d say this to him: If you wanted me to achieve solidarity with the working man, don’t have me work. That’s the easy part. If you wanted me to achieve solidarity, have me pay bills. Have me keep a budget. Have me understand the worry about being laid off or injured. Have me wonder how I would be able to manage if a member of my family had a catastrophic accident or a serious illness.
I appreciate that Mrs. Romney has done well in her role as a wife and mother, but she has never experienced the worry, and even fear, that women all over the country feel every day. I hope Governor Romney finds a way to hear those voices.