Crossing the Wires

Very interesting comment today on Ann Althouse’s popular blog.

The argument seems to be this: Hilary Rosen’s error was in trying to express Democratic Trope 1 with language from Democratic Trope 2. There’s the talking point that Romney is out of touch because he’s rich, and there’s the talking point that Romney represents the Republicans’ war on women.

What Rosen was aiming at was that first point: Romney is so rich that his wife (whom he says he consults on economic matters) doesn’t have a clue what normal women go through. That’s from the playbook of Democratic Trope 1. But Rosen expressed it as a war-on-women element: the never-held-a-job stay-at-home mom can’t appreciate how we normal working women are oppressed by Republicans. That’s from the playbook of Democratic Trope 2.

Result? A short circuit, as always happens when wires get crossed. Sparks and smoke and lot of shouting.

It’s going to take the Democrats a week or two to get these wires untangled and the power flowing back through them again. My guess right now is that they will become very leery of pushing much juice down the war-on-women wire.

The question, of course, for Catholics interested in the electoral race is whether that’s a gain or a loss. The war-on-women stuff was linked—crosswired, in its way—with the “Santorum is weird” line and the culture-wars language of abortion and contraception.

If the abortion and contraception discussion drops out the mainstream reporting and commentary on the election, should Catholics be glad (because you think, say, that this increases the victory chances of the more pro-life candidate) or unhappy (because you think, say, that the education of the public always makes this issues worthwhile to appear in public discourse)?



  • crosseyed mary

    @Joe M: It’s not surprising to me that Ms. Romney thinks unemployed or underemployed women choose to be poor and “take advantage” of temporary social assistance.

    • Marsha

      The real question is, what causes men and women who can’t afford to have kids, to have kids? And why would any organization, religious or otherwise, support this?

    • Joe M

      Mary. Can you point to where Ms. Romney has said that women choose to be poor? The choice, as you framed it yourself above, was over choosing to work or to stay home. Not a choice to be poor. — Also, can you kindly answer my question about the fairness of poor working women paying for other poor womens choice to stay home?

      • crosseyed mary

        Well, Joe, I assume Ms. Romeny agrees with her husband that poor women should be required to work outside the home, so according to that reasoning, if they choose to stay at home and collect social assistance, their sloth(?)will surely make them stay poor. And I simply don’t see how you can say that poor working women somehow disproportionately and unfairly pay for other women to stay home and focus on raising their children. Seems like you want to do away with the graduated income tax, too. But I’d have no problem if very wealthy stay at home working moms paid a fair share of the small amount of our tax dollars that go into social assistance, say compared to military spending. But what’s up with the Romneys paying their taxes at a lower tax bracket than the Obamas? That’s fair?

  • crosseyed mary

    How about Romney talking not very long ago, saying that mothers on social assistance should be required to work outside home or lose their benefits? Poor women, he said, shouldn’t be given a choice, but instead should be required to work outside the home to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. “Even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work,” Romney said of moms on TANF. I guess all this stuff about all moms working hard only applies to rich folks/

    • Joe M

      Mary. Romney makes a fair point since, when government subsidizes a poor woman’s choice to stay home, it makes more work for every other poor woman just to get by. — How is it fair that one poor womans choice should make other poor women’s lives more difficult?

  • Joe M

    If the polls are accurate and not misleading in some way, Obama seemed to be scoring politically with women. So, I think it’s better as a neutralized issue for the general election. In my view, the pro-life movement loses more by Romney not getting elected than it gains by increased publicity for a few months.



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