Judith Grey, writing for the Daily Beast has a column entitled Ann Romney’s Big Boo Boo. She goes to columnist trick #14: reflexive contrarianism and says, “oh, you think Ann Romney was the best part of the RNC and Clint Eastwood the weakest? WRONG! Ann Romney was the weakest.”
Her argument is that Ann should have talked more about her battles with MS and, particularly, about how Mitt stood by her.
Ann Romney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, and so had the unique opportunity to speak in graphic detail of the crippling disease and the qualities her struggle illuminated in her husband. She should have spoken of the prospect of spending the rest of her life in a wheelchair and how Mitt’s unwavering support, love and perseverance helped her prevail.
. . .
If he stayed up with her through the night, she should have mentioned it. If he had to carry her upstairs, she should have said so. If he emptied her bedpans, she should have shared that too.
Why, asks Grey, did Ann choose to speak with less detail and more generally about love instead of speaking specifically about the Romneys’ very difficult qualities, and Mitt’s admirable love for and loyalty toward his wife? Grey speculates maybe it would have come off as manipulative or that, by being specific, it would be difficult for those who didn’t share similar challenges to relate.
I think it’s a little easier than that. Mitt isn’t running against Newt Gingrich, against whom Mitt’s love and loyalty would be devastating. But, he’s running against Barack Obama who has a pretty solid family story of his own to tell. So, the personal aspect probably cancels out. The problem Mitt has is that the approach to health care he had to take to survive the primary is at odds with his personal story. It’s admirable to do whatever it takes, spend whatever it takes, and be there whenever necessary to tend to the health of a family member. Thing is, everybody would like the ability to do that for themselves. Everybody would like to know they can go to a doctor and get treatment for their spouse if they are struck down with an illness. Everybody would like to have the flexibility of schedule to go to the doctor with their sick spouse. But, not everybody can. No matter that they’re loyal and loving. In fact, I expect being loyal and loving but unable to provide care to a loved one is a special kind of hell.
So, the picture of Mitt being a loving and loyal spouse with the wherewithal to care for his wife on one hand but trying to repeal health care reform on the other hand, would feed into the narrative that Mitt Romney is out of touch and doesn’t know how normal people live. All in all, powerful and commendable as the Romney/MS story is, I have to disagree with Ms. Grey for faulting the Romney campaign for not getting so specific.