The Washington Post

Republicans’ desperation exposed in Ann Romney ‘controversy’

Whether there’s a GOP “war on women” and whether it’s affecting Mitt Romney’s campaign is up for debate. (My short answers: yes to the first, no to the second.) Either way, Republicans clearly feel that the “war on women” issue is a problem: For evidence, look no further than their furious response to liberal pundit Hilary Rosen’s comments that Ann Romney doesn’t understand working women’s problems because she “has never worked a day in her life.”

On Rosen’s comments themselves, I can only echo my colleague Ruth Marcus. But more importantly, what, exactly, is Rosen’s role in the 2012 campaign? Is she an Obama adviser? No. (Though Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom “accidentally” labeled her as one.) Is she a close confidant of key Obama staff? No. (So far, conservatives have turned up exactly one article mentioning her as an actual adviser — at a health-care messaging meeting that took place three years ago.) Is she a leader either in the Democratic Party or of a liberal lobbying group? No. Has Obama or his staff expressed support for her opinion? No — in fact, three senior advisers have already criticized her. Is she a liberal talk show host, giving a platform to Obama staff or other Democrats? No. With respect to the presidential campaign, she is nothing but a person with an opinion. That’s it.

To tie so many talking heads who appear on cable every dayto either campaign is a preposterous exercise, and a standard neither side of the political debate should want. If the Obama camp is responsible for Rosen, is Romney responsible for GOP Rep. Allen West’s outrageous accusation that 80 Democrats are communists? Is he responsible for Sherriff Joe Arapaio (Romney’s ’08 Arizona campaign chairman) and his birther conspiracy theories? Absolutely not. If that were the standard, the campaign would just be day after day of candidates disavowing random pundits and supporters’ comments. That Republicans feel they have to stoop to this suggests a real desperation. Let’s not let this become the new normal.

View Photo Gallery: Ann Romney has become a central part of her husband Mitt Romney’s drive to the GOP presidential nomination. Here are photos of Ann Romney on the campaign trail.

More from the Washington Post

Ruth Marcus: Ann Romney not your typical working woman

Greg Sargent: Rosen controversy is absurd

Jonathan Capehart: Romney, Allen West and selective outrage

Jennifer Rubin: Exclusive interview with Ann Romney

Marc Thiessen: Obama has the women problem

James Downie is The Washington Post’s Digital Opinions Editor. He previously wrote for The New Republic and Foreign Policy magazine.


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