Saturday, April 14, 2012

Defending Hilary Rosen

It’s an old adage: when you’re in a hole, stop digging.

Apparently, the wisdom contained in these seven words has not penetrated the consciousness of Democratic Party apologists. They are forming a shovel brigade to defend Hilary Rosen. 

Having seen the damage that Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen caused, they have rallied to her cause. 

First up is the president of the National Organization for Women, Terry O’Neill.

Speaking on MSNBC, O’Neill said this:

What would we be saying if Hillary Clinton [sic] had said this: that Ann Romney has never, has not worked for pay outside the home a day in her life?  That's my understanding that's an accurate statement, and that raises the exact issue that Hilary Rosen was trying to get to, which is do Mr. & Mrs. Romney have the kind of life experience and if not, the imagination, to really understand what most American families are going through right now? I think that that was what Hilary was getting out, and so she left out the words "for pay outside the home."
Presumably, O’Neill meant to say Hilary Rosen in her first line, thus the [sic].

First, O’Neill engages in legalistic parsing. Even if Rosen had added “… for pay outside the home…” her statement would still have been intended to diminish, demean and disparage Ann Romney. Adding a few weasel words would not have fooled anyone.

Second, more importantly, O’Neill articulates the crux of the issue. Neither of the Romney’s feels the pain of the average American. They lack empathy; they don’t care.

O’Neill says that they lack the life experience and the imagination: “to really understand what most American families are going through right now.”

We will forgive her the split infinitive, but O’Neill has revealed a starker truth: Democrats do not care about policy or governance; they only care about caring, about having the right feelings.

O’Neill says that the Romneys do not feel your pain, the pain that has been visited on America by the Obama administration.

Strangely, O'Neill is deploying a sexist stereotype.

She sees women as the caring gender, the feeling gender, the emotional gender. Therefore, as the stereotype goes, they are the less rational gender.

In O’Neill’s world women can only feel the right amount of pain if they have had the same life experience as other women. To feel the pain of modern women they need to be feminists, with careers, married to serial cheaters… like Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps, O’Neill is just trying to play women, to entice them into the Democratic fold, but still, she has completely obscured the issue. Finding the solution to the pain does not require that you feel the pain. If you empathize too much your emotions will identify you with the person who feels the pain but does not know what to do to stop it.

It’s about policy, not compassion. It’s about creating jobs, not getting so lost in your empathy that you are willing to support every handout that the Democrats propose.

Poke the argument a little and it becomes fatuous. Should we ban male gynecologists? Is a male gynecologist a worse clinician for not sharing the same reproductive system with his patients? And should we limit oncology to those physicians who have had cancer themselves and have therefore felt their patients’ pain?

Or else, should we limit those professions to people who have passed an empathy test, who have sufficient imagination to feel everyone else’s pain?

If you are choosing a surgeon for you next operation, which would you value most: great technical skill or deep feelings?

You might think that you want both, but great surgical technique requires complete focus on the mechanics of the task at hand. A surgeon who feels deeply for his patient will be an inferior surgeon.

We can look at it from a different angle. What if Mitt Romney had said one day that he was happy to ignore his wife’s opinions on matters economical because she is a mere housewife?

Can you imagine the feminist hue and cry if Romney had said such a thing?

Among other liberals who do not know enough to stop digging, we find the normally insightful Michael Tomasky.

Since he is not a woman, Tomasky does not play the compassion card. Instead, he offers this:

But nothing about that should prevent us from also looking honestly at her background and asking how representative a symbol of twenty-first century American womanhood she is. [S]he … is a woman who was born to fantastic privilege and who married into even more fantastic privilege, and who simply hasn’t had to make the hard choices that many women have to make.

Wherever did Tomasky get the idea that the wife of a presidential candidate should be “a representative symbol of twenty-first century American womanhood.”?

What a droll idea. What a patent absurdity.

Tomasky wants a candidate’s wife, and presumably a candidate, who is in touch with the experience of everyday Americans. Yet, he also wants the candidate’s wife to be a living symbol—whatever that means.

How many symbols are really in touch?

And all of these discussions have completely obscured the emulation issue.

Do we want our leaders to be just like us, or do we want them to be the kinds of people who might set a good example, an example we would want our children to emulate?


Deadman said...

Clearly, Mr. Romney, and some well-connected friends, should have put pressure on a local hospital to create a position for his wife—as, perhaps, “vice-president of community relations”—paying over $300,000 a year, and then there’d be no discussion of Mrs. Romney’s ability to empathise with the ordinary, poor folks.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

If I recall correctly the wife who received that cushy job-- through connections-- was a graduate of Harvard Law School who was disbarred and is no longer allowed to practice law.

Another minor detail that the press tends not to report.

Sam L. said...

Hillary! was such a person as Mr. Tomasky wanted: Yes, or No?