The kerfuffle over Democratic operative and CNN contributor Hilary Rosen’s less-than-tactful criticism of Ann Romney’s job as a stay-at-home mother has damaged President Obama’s campaign strategy that Republicans are engaged in a war against women. I have confirmation of that from the most unlikely of sources. But I wonder whether we really know the full story.
I just got out of the hospital – why I was there is nobody’s business and not relevant, but it was there that I had an illuminating encounter that spoke volumes. While in my typically uncomfortable hospital bed a technician came in to draw a blood sample (I had so many of them taken I wondered if but what Count Dracula wasn’t on staff).
When she came in, I was watching a Fox News report on the reaction to Rosen’s comment that Ann Romney “has never worked a day in her life” and how that flies in the face of the reality of what it takes to raise five children.
The technician, a young black woman wearing an Islamic head scarf, went about her business efficiently and professionally as if oblivious to what was on TV. But as she completed the blood draw, she looked up at the TV and muttered, “Raising five children is a lot of work – who is that lady kidding?” She then looked at me and said, “That’s just what I think.” Nodding my head, I said, “I agree with you.” No question about it – that young lady, an ideal Obama demographic exemplar, was upset by what Rosen said. Irrespective of race or religion, women know that being a mother is a better than full-time job and hard work, which leads me to wonder whether Rosen acted on her own as much as many people think.
Hilary Rosen is an experienced, knowledgeable Washington, D.C. insider. One look at her background as a lobbyist, political commentator and Democratic Party operative is enough to convince anyone that she is tough, capable and not prone to stupid gaffes, which, in the Obama administration, are Vice President Joe Biden’s exclusive turf. She wouldn’t say or do anything unless there’s a reason behind it. So, what was the reason here? For weeks, President Obama and Democrats have attacked Republicans for waging a “war against women.” But how far can they go with that campaign strategy before it backfires? The only way to know is to have a surrogate run a theme up the political flagpole to see if anyone salutes. Enter Hilary Rosen.
Whether she volunteered or was drafted is anyone’s guess. But methinks I see the cynical manipulation of the Obama re-election campaign at work here – the president’s fingerprints are all over this.
Pro-Obama commentators have pointed out that the president and his top campaign aides were quick to toss Rosen under the political bus by distancing themselves from her personally and condemning what she said as both inaccurate and dumb. But one of the first responses from the White House came from Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, before Rosen’s comments really hit the fan, and it was the ultimate in non-denial denials:
Carney vacillated on Rosen herself and then changed the subject to talk about Obama administration achievements for women. Cleverly vapid. The administration could maneuver either way on what Rosen said while continuing to claim the Republicans are the ones who are anti-woman. Which way was the wind blowing?
It wasn’t until the intensity and depth of the blowback against Rosen’s comment became apparent did President Obama and his pals jump on the pig pile. Rosen’s purpose served, the president kept his options open while taking the popular position.
It remains to be seen whether this too-clever-by-half gamesmanship itself won’t come back and bite the President. I know of one young woman who wasn’t amused.
Scott St. Clair is an investigative reporter in New Jersey. He’s a former reporter for the Freedom Foundation and is a blogger for Victoria Taft.com