Saturday, April 14, 2012


The USA’s modern Republican Party, and the conservative industry generally, are the absolute masters of propaganda. In fact, I don’t think there’s ever been anyone better at. They’re experts at spinning every issue, framing every debate in their terms, and manufacturing consent or opposition, as their needs dictate. They are, in essence, master manipulators.

Among the many tactics used by the US’ rightwing, “fauxrage” is one of their most potent. They take something from the news (or make something up) and then every rightwing commentator trots out to express their “outrage” at what liberals/Democrats/sane people are doing or allegedly have done. Fox “News” performers use fauxrage as one of their standard tools.

More often than not, fauxrage is either completely manufactured or else so distorted that it may as well be made up. The fauxrage over Hilary Rosen’s comments on Ann Romney is the latest example of this phony, fake outrage. The video above shows the fauxrage in action (note the attempts to smear the Democratic National Committee and President Obama in the process, a sure indicator of fauxrage).

Writing for The Nation, Jessica Valenti argued in “Why Hilary Rosen is right” that “There’s no doubt that Rosen, a CNN contributor and Democratic political consultant, made a gaffe in providing such a juicy sound bite. But her message—in context—was right on.”

Ah, context—what politician or politically motivated commentator of whatever stripe ever cares about context when there are political points to be scored? Nevertheless, the context of the comment was that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has said that he asks his wife for advice on what women really think on economic issues.

The fact is that Ann stayed home to raise their children, which is a fine and wonderful thing: Neither Rosen nor anyone else has ever said it isn’t, nor did she or anyone else say that raising children isn’t work. However, the equally important fact here is that the Romneys are obscenely wealthy and Ann is NOT the same as, say, a working-class stay-at-home mother. The Romneys have domestic staff to take care of the day-to-day running of their several houses, so all Mitt’s wife had to do was raise the children.

Given their immense wealth, there’s simply no way that Mitt’s wife has any understanding of what a working mother, a solo mother or a stay-at-home working class mother goes through, or what struggles she faces. NONE of this has ANYTHING to do with whether raising children is work or not—everyone agrees it is! The point was and is that rich elitists like the Romneys have zero understanding of the struggles that ordinary, mainstream people face every single day.

The Romneys have never had to worry about whether there would be enough money to pay their bills: They’ve never had to choose whether to pay phone, power, water, rent. They’ve never stayed awake worrying about the fact that one serious illness or a layoff could cause them to lose their only home. They’ve never had to deny themselves food so that their children get enough to eat, or so that the children are clothed.

Real working Americans have faced all those sorts of choices, ones that the Romneys are incapable of even imagining. The fact underlying the grossly distorted fauxrage over Rosen’s comment is that Ann has never held a paying job or faced the sorts of struggles faced by ordinary mainstream American women who have held or hold paying jobs. So don’t tell me that Ann’s any sort of “expert” on what ordinary mainstream American women think on economic issues, because she doesn’t know anything about it.

Mrs. Romney is a mother who was lucky enough to be able to stay home and raise their children. That’s a wonderful thing for them all, and no one should criticise her for that or denigrate the amount of hard work that raising children can be, no matter how much or how little money one has. However, let’s not pretend that a life of wealth and privilege is in any way even remotely similar to the world in which ordinary mainstream working Americans live.

That’s what Hilary Rosen was getting at, and the rightwing propaganda machine damn well knows that. They also know that the policies espoused by the Republican Party and Mitt Romney will make things far worse, and life much harder, for ordinary, mainstream, hard-working American families, including those with stay at home mothers, similar to, but so very unlike, Ann Romney.

To be honest, before this “controversy”, I didn’t know who Hilary Rosen was. I think her great sin wasn’t just mere bad—stupid, actually—word choice, it was handing a media-friendly talking point to Republican pundits, gift wrapped and with a large bow on top. She's made things harder for real Democratic strategists—those who don’t use that title but actually work to elect Democrats (Rosen is just a lobbyist for corporate interests, and not a progressive or electoral organiser).

So, Rosen was an idiot. Everyone gets that. But letting the Republican noise machine get away with their fauxrage because of that is inexcusable, particularly because it lets them paint the Romneys, of all people, as if they have a clue what it means to be an ordinary, mainstream working American family.

The Romneys having understanding of the lives and struggles of real, ordinary, mainstream American working families? That is the real joke in all this.

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