By now most people have heard about Hilary Rosen’s terrible choice of words in reference to Ann Romney on CNN Wednesday night. Rosen is a White House adviser and a PR consultant which makes her choice of words all the more impactful.
If you didn’t, here’s the clip.
CNN has a complete transcript here.
When discussing Romney’s campaign and how/whether it’s reaching women, Rosen 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. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we — why do we worry about their future?
The statement was pretty bad, though she may indeed have not meant to come across the way that she did. But many people understood her to be attacking Ann Romney’s decision to be a stay at home mom and suggesting that is wasn’t real work. On the contrary, raising five children is more work than many many people are willing to do, as evidenced by widespread intentionally low birthrates.
Add to this that Ann Romney comes across as a lovely person and that she’s battled cancer and MS and you’ve got a major PR crisis.
But it gets better. (Depends of course on what you mean by “better.”) The Catholic League responded with the following tweet:
Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own.
Ouch. Not only is this not Catholic in any way, shape, or form. It’s simply unnecessary. With whom Rosen chooses to share her bed has nothing to do with her statement on Ann Romney and her experience with economics. Additionally, are we now suggesting that there’s something unCatholic about adoption? If so, then we’re going to have to revisit the core of our theology which is divine filiation…which is to say a type of adoption.
The Catholic League has done a good job defending the Catholic Church on many issues. But the type of response exemplified in the above tweet makes the same fundamental communications error that Rosen made. It’s completely off message and ad hominem (ad mulierem, to be precise).
It also sounds hateful/spiteful, not unlike Rosen’s comments. And that’s another sign of bad communications strategy. When you start spewing negative emotion, any constructive (even if critical) message is lost.
To a casual observer, the takeaway from CL’s tweet is that the Catholic Church doesn’t like people who are attracted to the same sex. And that the Catholic Church doesn’t support adoption. Neither of these conclusions are true. Meanwhile, any commentary on Rosen’s remarks about Ann Romney is completely lost.
Some other thoughts on Rosen’s remarks:
1. Why does she assume that someone without professional experience can’t have valid opinions about economics? Plenty of women who are not economists and financial advisers do a fine job of managing family finances. And plenty of professionals (economists and others) have been terribly wrong about the economy.
2. I continue to meet interesting people who have a depth of knowledge beyond their professional or day-to-day occupations. Some of the smartest people I’ve known never went to college. It’s the height of just about every -ism to judge someone’s intellectual understanding based on a few outward assumptions about them.
3. As I wrote/tweeted yesterday, “Will someone with 5 small children at home please offer Hilary Rosen the opportunity to babysit for 24 hours? And let her pay your bills etc.”