For Republicans and the media who coddle them, nothing is more painful and likely to induce mass fainting spells than the truth, and the faux “controversy” over Hilary Rosen’s disparaging comments about Ann Romney’s idle life in the lap of luxury is a perfect example of this drearily familiar phenomenon. The fact is, Ann Romney hasn’t worked a day in her life, at a time when even well-off women with children often do so, if not out of economic necessity, out of sheer boredom.
Mrs. Romney is right that raising five children is hard work, but once they’re all in school, and surely once they’ve all moved out, it’s hardly a full-time job, especially with domestic help. But for some women, it’s a matter of principle not to work, and Ann seems to fall into that decidedly less sympathetic category.
Though Ann Romney is by all accounts a good mother and a thoroughly decent person, she is an utter stranger to anything you’d call “struggle.” To occupy her ample spare time, Ann and women like her choose not only not to work, but to indulge in elitist pastimes that ostentatiously waste money; it isn’t enough to not have to work; real fulfillment comes from throwing vast sums in the street, or more commonly, in the horse arena.
I had a close friend who trained horses, hunters and jumpers, not dressage, but the economics and attitudes were the same. Having heard about the astonishing costs of such a hobby from him, the first chance I got to buttonhole one of the husbands at a cocktail party, I asked him how he could justify the expense, of which I provided my best guess of the annual outlay.
“Are you kidding? It costs a hell of a lot more than that,” he said, and continued, “But you know what? It’s cheap!”
Thunderstruck, I stammered, inwardly congratulating myself for not spraying him with single malt scotch. “How?”
“It keeps her out of the stores!”
I had to concede his point; blinded as I’d been all evening by the jewels, gowns, and expensive cars outside, it was clear to me that these women defined themselves by showing off how much of their husbands’ money they burned through. Just like Ann, they all joked about how they didn’t tell their husbands how much they were spending, as though with their battalions of accountants, they didn’t know.
And just like Ann, they busied themselves when they weren’t at “the barn” with decorators for their multiple houses, personal shoppers, and the like; though most had children, you rarely heard about them unless they were in military school.
Given my personal experience, it’s unlikely that any but a tiny number of women will ever sympathize with Ann Romney for her “struggles” with MS and cancer; real women face such things every day without flying all over the country to ride and “sponsor” fancy horses, never mind not having to worry in the slightest about such trivial minutia as medical bills and lost income.
Our lavishly paid media stars and Republican senior fellas can whine all they want about how nasty old liberals cruelly denigrate Ann Romney’s “choice” to be a “stay at home(s) Mom,” but their tiresome, contrived laments only illustrate just how out of touch they themselves are. For most women, working is no choice, but a grim and often guilt-inducing necessity.
Memo to the Romney campaign: While it is undeniably true that in these parlous times women do care more about economic issues than the toxic social issues for which Republicans are deservedly infamous, they certainly don’t need to hear about them from the well-coiffed blonde in jodhpurs on a $100,000 horse.*
If that’s “struggling,” I’d hate to see a cakewalk.
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*Ann Romney with her horse, Super Hit, in a 2006 photo.