Ann and Mitt, the college years

Ann and Mitt, the college years

by digby

I didn't realize just how hard they had it:

“They were not easy years. You have to understand, I was raised in a lovely neighborhood, as was Mitt, and at BYU, we moved into a $62-a-month basement apartment with a cement floor and lived there two years as students with no income.

“It was tiny. And I didn’t have money to carpet the floor. But you can get remnants, samples, so I glued them together, all different colors. It looked awful, but it was carpeting.

“We were happy, studying hard. Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time.

The stock came from Mitt’s father. When he took over American Motors, the stock was worth nothing. But he invested Mitt’s birthday money year to year — it wasn’t much, a few thousand, but he put it into American Motors because he believed in himself. Five years later, stock that had been $6 a share was $96 and Mitt cashed it so we could live and pay for education.

“Mitt and I walked to class together, shared housekeeping, had a lot of pasta and tuna fish and learned hard lessons.
I'm fairly sure that selling that stock was just as hard for them as it was for me to work at a full time job when I went to school. I can't even imagine the pain I would have felt if I'd had to pick up the phone and take some profits instead of working nights and going to classes in the daytime.

Now, the truth is that Ann and Mitt had their first children during this time, so they were up all night as well. I suppose I might have done that too, but it would have been unaffordable for me to go to school and work full time and raise a child so I was very glad to have birth control easily available through Planned Parenthood. But then I'm fairly sure that Ann and Mitt wouldn't have approved of my sluttish co-ed lifestyle. I was unmarried, after all. And with no stock to call my own. At the very least, I should have first been married at the age of 19 to a man with a famous political name who was groomed to be president of the United States. That's how nice young ladies "struggle."

Ann Romney raised five kids and worked as a partner in a political career, which is no picnic. I'm sure she is an energetic, hard worker who's known her share of heartache and worry. The woman is over 60 --- life happens even to the very wealthy. But she simply has not led the same kind of life that most Americans have led and for she and Mitt to pretend they personally know what it is to "struggle" like the average American is absurd.

This would not be a huge issue if she and her husband weren't proposing policies designed to ensure that fewer and fewer Americans will be able to go to school or choose when to have their kids or keep from going bankrupt when they get a bad diagnosis. This is the problem. Nobody cares if Ann and Mitt were born into privilege and became extremely wealthy, for its own sake. What's so galling is the fact that they are out there selling the notion that average Americans have been coddled by Big Government and won't "take responsibility" for ourselves and need to "make sacrifices" --- that what we must do is make life even easier for "job creators" like Ann and Mitt so that they might trickle down a little of their wealth to the rest of us.

This is why it's a shame that Hilary Rosen didn't choose her words more carefully. The intention, I'm sure, wasn't to say that being "a mom" isn't work. It was that Mitt Romney saying he depends on his wife to come off the campaign trail and fill him in on the concerns of average women says he has no personal empathy for half the population. (He also meets average women every day on the campaign trail every day, after all.) And since his wife is a highly privileged person who has little experience with the real struggles of American woman, she might not be the best person to be his Ambassador to the female half of the population. It certainly doesn't seem to have changed their policies that reward wealthy women just like Ann Romney at the expense of poor and middle class women.