The authenticity of conservative women has always been under attack by radical orthodox feminists, but perhaps not as brazenly as by someone with such direct and frequent access to the corridors of the White House message machine as Hilary B. Rosen.
The D.C. career lobbyist and Democratic media strategist took to CNN’s airwaves this week to craft a left-wing “War on Women” attack on the real moms of the GOP. Ostensibly aiming at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his “old-fashioned” views of women, Rosen’s mouth instead shot off in the direction of wife, stay-at-home mother of five, grandmother of 16, and cancer and multiple sclerosis survivor Ann Romney. Mrs. Romney, sneered Rosen, “never worked a day in her life” outside of the home and should have no voice on women’s issues.
President Obama never met a payroll in his life, but that hasn’t stopped him from dictating what business owners across the country should and shouldn’t be doing. But I digress.
This was no accidental rhetorical drive-by. “Progressives” from Gloria Steinem to Patricia Ireland to Naomi Wolf have derided their conservative counterparts as female impersonators, fake women and men with breasts from time immemorial. It’s SOP: standard operating procedure. In 1992, Hillary Clinton mocked women who stayed at home and “baked cookies and had teas.” In 2004, blueblood Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, sniffed that first lady Laura Bush (a former teacher and librarian before becoming a homemaker) never “had a real job — I mean, since she’s been grown up.”
Alas, if you’re a conservative mom, you’re damned if you do stay home and damned if you don’t. In 2008, Howard Gutman, a member of the Obama campaign’s national finance committee, attacked GOP vice presidential candidate and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s ability to be a good parent and have a high-powered public life at the same time. “Your responsibility is to put your family first,” Gutman lectured as he singled out Palin’s Down syndrome baby and then-pregnant teenage daughter. “The proper attack is not that a woman shouldn’t run for vice president with five kids; it’s that a parent, when they have a family in need…” should get out of the public sphere and stay home.
What’s striking about Rosen’s latest ideological sniper attack is that she is not some lone-wolf operative on the fringes of Beltway influence. She works with former White House communications director Anita Dunn at the D.C.-based strategic communications consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker. That’s the same company that promoted the anti-Palin smear movie “Game Change” and that represented liberal Georgetown law school student activist and manufactured War on Women poster woman Sandra Fluke. Smack dab at the intersection of progressive agitation and Democratic Party campaign-season maneuvering.
White House visitor logs (which nonpartisan watchdogs point out are woefully incomplete) show that “Hilary B. Rosen” or “Hilary Rosen” has visited 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. at least 35 times, including several direct meetings with President Obama (5); White House senior adviser and consigliere Valerie Jarrett; senior adviser David Axelrod; senior adviser turned 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina; and a parade of communications/media team officials in both the West Wing “surrogate booking” office and the East Wing.
Axelrod and Messina, who took to Twitter immediately Thursday night after the social networking site exploded with a conservative mom backlash, scrambled to disassociate themselves from their frequent visitor. POTUS and FLOTUS followed suit. But when you collect and connect the dots, Rosen’s role as a surrogate hit-woman for the White House is unmistakable.
Rosen was forced to issue a non-apology apology as Democratic women tossed her under the bus (or at least shoved her temporarily to the back until things boil over).
What’s changed in 2012 is the Internet revenge of thousands of conservative female activists who have played a larger role than ever in controlling political narratives. These include tea party leaders such as Breitbart.com editor Dana Loesch, national grassroots groups such as Smart Girl Politics, the proliferation of conservative female bloggers and podcasters, and the critical mass of stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms and young conservative women flocking to Twitter.
As we’ve documented at my new Twitter curation/aggregation site, Twitchy.com, GOP moms, grandmothers and daughters have besieged White House social media efforts to paint conservatives as anti-women. They’ve torn apart hypocritical White House rhetoric about equal pay from an administration that has failed to practice what it preaches.
And as Ann Romney is now experiencing on Twitter, the women of the right are fighting their way through a hostile cesspool of misogyny that has been SOP for the feminist left.
Rosen and her media defenders dismissed “faux outrage” about her attack. But the real moms of the GOP have launched their own Occupy movement in the social media space once dominated by Obama’s army. And they’re winning.