Whenever Mitt Romney talks about money, he loses. His wife, Ann, is usually much better than he is at projecting sincerity in the artificial situations of the campaign, but she, too has stumbled when talking about money. But Ann's fight with Hilary Rosen over her resume this week marks the first time the Romneys have won an argument about class and wealth. That's because being a mommy trumps owning multiple cars, homes, and dressage horses, whatever those are.
When Rosen said that Ann had "never worked a day in her life," she was responding to the presidential candidate's claim that he understands how much women care about the economy because his wife told him so. Rosen was taking a shot at the Romneys' wealth, saying they were out of touch and old-fashioned, and that Ann never had to worry about bills. The idea that there's a wide variety of mom lifestyles is uncontroversial, as illustrated by these classic TV moms:
And Ann Romney usually plays into the image of the stylish stay-at-home mom who probably had maids. In early March, she said, "We can be poor in spirit, and I don’t even consider myself wealthy, which is an interesting thing. It can be here today and gone tomorrow." She added, "Some people have lovers in every port; I have horses in every port." When asked what was the best present her husband ever bought her, Ann responded, "The best gift was a horse. That gift is the gift that keeps on giving." Romney's financial disclosure forms show those horses are worth between $250,000 and $500,000.
But despite reverse snobbery's integral role in presidential elections since at least, oh, 1968, Ann Romney has proven that mommy wars trumps it. "Other women make other choices, to have a career and raise family, which I think Hilary Rosen has actually done herself," Ann Romney told Fox News Thursday morning. "I respect that, that’s wonderful. But, you know, there are other people that have a choice. We have to respect women and all those choices that they make." This is a very good move. If you say Ann Romney doesn't know what it's like to be a working-class mom, it now means you're showing her disrespect. You're disrespecting her womanly choices as a woman, who did a womanly thing called having babies. Instead of attacking a rich person for being rich and doing a rich person thing called not having to sweat the mortgage. Ann Romney will manage to portray herself as speaking for all women, just as have the wealthy female writers who've waged the "Mommy Wars" for several years. And it's going to stick: Michelle Obama tweeted Thursday, "Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.