Ann Romney's poignant desperation
Potential first lady Ann Romney did her best to convince the Republican National Convention that she and her husband were down with America's women. At a time when the GOP was flailing over "legitimate rape" comments, she reached out to female voters.
"I love you, women!!!!" Mrs. Romney even yelled at one point — yes, it sounded like that many exclamation points — before emitting a laugh of poignant desperation.
If something seemed a little off about her speech, it was partly because her praise for the ladies was zeroed in on women within the traditional, long-suffering "mom" role.
An an excerpt of her speech:
It's the moms of this nation — single, married, widowed — who really hold this country together. We're the mothers, we're the wives, we're the grandmothers, we're the big sisters, we're the little sisters, we're the daughters.
You know it's true, don't you? You're the ones who always have to do a little more.
So if you happen to be an unmarried, childless, careerist lesbian lawyer, does any of that still apply?
You can be the generation that holds your leaders accountable for open, honest government at every level, government that stamps out corruption and protects the rights of every citizen to speak freely, to worship openly, to love whomever they choose. You can be the generation to ensure that women are no longer second-class citizens.
As Billie Holiday sang it, "You gotta show me just how much you care. You gotta show me your love's really there." The trouble with Mrs. Romney is that she's all talk, and no walk.
Where are the answers to women's questions?
Romney's speech glorified the tired female trope of dignified suffering, of grace under a uniquely feminine pressure, the scope of which only a woman can truly fathom (and the scope of which no woman can ever, apparently, avoid).
"I don't think there's a woman in America who really expects her life to be easy," she said. "And that's fine. We don't want easy. But these last few years have been harder than they needed to be."
"We're too smart to know there aren't easy answers, but we're not dumb enough to accept that there aren't better answers."
As a listener, you might have expected Mrs. Romney to identify what these "better answers" to the American woman's problems might be. However — tellingly — that is precisely when she began talking about her husband.
"His name is Mitt Romney and you really should get to know him," she grinned, as if inviting voters to imagine he were their husband too. (Insert cheap Mormon/polygamy wisecrack here.) And she continued to employ this highly personal, emotional brand of rhetoric until it became downright condescending.
"This is the man America needs," she pleaded, as if writing an online dating profile of her husband for all the nation's lonely ladies.