Quotes of the day

“The flap over Hillary Rosen’s comments disparaging stay-at-home-moms like Ann Romney has gotten a lot of play. I’ve been on the record (okay, on Twitter) mocking the feigned Republican outrage. Something about it just didn’t sit well with me.

“This, of course, puts me at odds with the Republican ‘team’ who sees this as a huge win (it is) for their side. It may be smart politics, but it’s still damned depressing. It took me a while to figure out my visceral disgust at this issue. It turns out, there are a lot of things to hate…

“If you’re on the Republican team, the thing to do is to jump on this and blow it out of proportion (a week ago, of course, the thing to do was to downplay Limbaugh’s comments.) I’m not on a team. So I think I’m a bit more consistent in saying that both ‘wars’ were bogus…

“Phoniness is, perhaps, the least admirable quality one can possess. But we’ve seen a lot of phoniness of late. This is silly season, after all. There is no Republican war on women. There is no Democratic war on moms. The truth is that the people pulling the strings who seem angered by this are actually feigning outrage. And the people who are truly outraged are being manipulated by them. It’s truly sad.”


“If this first week of the general election has taught us anything, this is going to be a long next six months. It started with the Obama White House and campaign hammering away at the ‘Buffett Rule,’ which was more of an effort to embarrass Mitt Romney (and his low effective tax rate) than a realistic policy proposal. And then on Wednesday and Thursday, the Romney campaign seized on comments by Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist with thin ties to the White House, who said that Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life. It was a manufactured controversy — fueled by Twitter and social media — because no serious political actor in this presidential contest is criticizing stay-at-home moms or the value of the work they do. In fact, Rosen was referring to the Romneys’ wealth, not Ann Romney’s decision to raise her five sons at home. While the two major parties are fundamentally divided (over taxes, entitlements, the role of government, and national security) and while so much is at stake (control of Washington, potentially two Supreme Court justices), we find ourselves smack-dab in the silly season…

“The fact is, these next few months before the conventions are probably going to be filled with these manufactured ‘shiny metal object’ controversies because of what we noted — just how professionalized both political parties are at creating them. And some in the media are easily susceptible to helping these manufactured controversies go viral because they are seen as simply ‘more interesting’ than the serious ‘eat your vegetables’-like issues that divide the two parties.”


“The first problem is outrage magnification. Let’s say that you believe that Rosen’s comments that stay-at-home-of-five Ann Romney had ‘never worked a day in her life,’ even construed the way she intended to construe them, violated a sensible boundary that exists in the real world. When boundaries are violated, we tend to want to see the violator punished, or reproached. Fair enough. Fairer still is the deep stakes that liberals and conservatives have in the debate about women, gender roles and the economy. Here’s the thing: without the help of the conservative universe, no one would have noticed. There would be no controversy. There would be nothing.

“But Mitt Romney, by his own admission, needs women to like him. And therefore, he needs to find ways to prove that he’s on the side of women. And his campaign, along with the Republican National Committee and the conservative tribe, has been looking for a way to force Democrats to defend their own views of women in a way that shifts the spotlight from Romney’s record to something else. To turn Rosen’s remarks into something graver, the level of outrage had to be magnified, artificially. The story can’t be ‘Democratic consultant says something dumb on CNN.’ It has to be ‘Democratic consultant says something so outrageous, something so harmful, that we sober politicians are going to spend our entire today DEMANDING punishment, and justice, for you, Jane Q. Citizen.’ To get from nothing to everything requires the manufacturing of outrage, which is very easily magnified by the tribal instincts of activists, which, in turn, is easily broadcast by social media…

“There are skillful psychological manipulators on both sides of America’s two islands, and elections often degenerate into cycles upon cycles of outrage signification. This is perhaps fortunate, in that it keeps parity in the system. It is unfortunate because it is an artificial construct designed to bring out the worst in people.”


“When few competing stories exist and political reporters are starved for material, any whiff of scandal or controversy can create a feeding frenzy. A bored media is dangerous for politicians.

“In this case, the Rosen controversy, like the ‘Etch-a-Sketch’ flap, is unlikely to have a significant effect on the outcome of the campaign. It was a wasted day for those who produce and consume political news and will probably have few real-world consequences…

“Journalists need to start taking accuracy concerns on Twitter more seriously before the next Rosen-style frenzy claims someone else’s reputation.”


1. It’s a victim mentality. No, it’s a firmly held reaction to Hilary Rosen’s demeaning comments which were part of a long history of attempts to marginalize conservative women. Defending against the Obama campaign’s phony ‘war on women’ campaign theme, implemented through liberal communications operatives like Rosen, is not playing the victim. It’s standing up for what is right and just, and if we do not stand up for Ann Romney, then we don’t stand up for ourselves. Have we learned absolutely nothing from the vicious attacks on Sarah Palin, in which many Republicans acquiesced? No more…

“Rosen touched a nerve for a reason grounded in history. A history we don’t want to see repeated daily through November 6.”


“It’s fascinating to me how the calls for censorship of Rush lasted only so long as the elite realized that such demands that women be spoken well of were going to hurt them far more than conservatives (see, for example, Obama megadonor Bill Maher worrying about fallout and comedian Louis C.K. having to cancel his appearance at the D.C. radio and television correspondents dinner).

“And while it was fine to subject women such as myself to months of unrelenting media coverage ignoring our First Amendment concerns and rewriting those concerns as a ‘war on women,’ now when the shoe is on the other foot, we decide it’s time to stop with such cliches.

“I’m more than fine with people condemning ‘too much outrage’ over the Hilary Rosen remarks. But if those people didn’t spend weeks condemning the media water-carrying of the Sandra Fluke public relations campaign, as I did, then they will forgive me for not taking their concerns too seriously here.”


Via Newsbusters.

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