Don’t dance your horses before they leap

Mitt Romney pissed off just about every equestrian in the world when he dissed his own wife's horse Rafalca. The rest of the world forgot because he went on to diss the Olympics and people of color (not to mention dissing poor families wiped out by corrupt bankers by attending a banquet in the bankers' honor). But for equestrians the damage had been done.

Since Carol is an equestrian (albeit a decidedly lower middle class equestrian who rides a horse she was given by a friend and supports the horse with rescue work), I paid attention to Romney's comment. Why? Because Romney's diss of his wife and horse were the equivalent of a diss to Carol and Gabe.

What did Romney say? That dressage was his wife's event, he doesn't know what day it's scheduled (the answer is: several) and he won't be there to see it. He's happy for her, but that's it.

He, after all, ran the Olympics. She just supported two of the athletes, only one of whom is a real American (that would not be the horse, of course).

If I said that about Carol and Gabe (even if I felt that way), I would be sleeping alone, eating alone and calling Carol on the phone at my sister's house because my family took her side.

Many of us think Romney's trip to London was just his ploy to assure die-hard Republicans that he wasn't content to step into Bush's shoes, he's ready to lower the bar even further. But his comments about Ann and her horse concern us here because they should give pause to Christians about his true character.

Democrats have picked on dressage as an elitist sport, comparing it to horse ballet and running ads showing Mitt with dancing horses. Admittedly, Olympic dressage is elitist, but so are all Olympic sports. Olympic athletes are supported by a number of corporate sponsors who pass the cost of sponsorship onto their customers.

It doesn't matter what we think about dressage, his wife Ann is highly invested. Not only has she supported Rafalca to the Olympics, she believes it has helped her Multiple Sclerosis. For Romney to imply that he's too busy to support her team in the Olympics is dismissive and belittling. More so since he claimed almost $80,000 against future earnings for the horse on his taxes.

We have to ask whether or not a man who shows this little regard for his own family will show any more regard for ordinary Americans to whom he has no connection. This could explain why he would be so willing to outsource employees to insure a profit.

Bill Clinton campaigned with the phrase, “I feel your pain.” This is very much in the spirit of Jesus, who put aside his own needs to minister to the needs of others. Even others of no importance, who were too poor or disenfranchised to matter to the empire or Israel.

Mitt Romney's message consistently seems to be, “I feel none of your pain and it doesn't bother me in the least.” Is this a man we would trust with our country?

There is another explanation for Romney's dismissive comments about his wife's olympic efforts. He wants to distance himself from criticism that he is disconnected from average Americans. And how much more disconnected could he be that throwing money after dancing horses?

Sure, he has vacation houses, Swiss bank accounts and a long list of corporate clients. But he has to draw the line at his wife.

This too has Biblical implications. In this, Mitt is not unlike Peter who denied his connection to Jesus three times. And while I certainly don't want to imply that Ann Romney is on the same plane as Jesus, I do want to remind readers that Peter's real sin was to back away from those he loved when they needed his support.

A real family values guy, a real husband, a man who cares would say, “I couldn't be more proud of my wife and you bet I'll be at her side when her team represents America to the world.”

Even if her team does include a dancing horse.

And, as for the Democrats who ran that ad, a dancing horse is far more beautiful than a braying ass.

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Mom’s don’t need no stinking benefits

Poor Hillary Rosen. She forgot Jesus’ injunction to judge not lest you be judged. She has not only been judged, but so has every Democrat in America. It’s official, Democrats hate stay at home moms. You can’t get more cynical about that.

Not Rosen or the Democrats. I mean cynical Republicans who beat her into submission with a straw man of gigantic proportions. We’re talking a straw man the size of a Goodyear blimp powered by the inflating gas of Republican rhetoric. Yes, in classic fashion the Republicans took an off-the-cuff remark and transformed it into an attack on motherhood.

“Straw man” is a term used when two people are arguing (usually in public forum or debate) and one substitutes a cuckoo argument for their opponent’s real argument. By “cuckoo” I don’t mean crazy; I’m referring to the real cuckoo who replaces another bird’s eggs with her own. The hatched bird then takes over the nest much the way the republicans substituted “stay at home mothers don’t work” for “Ann Ramsey doesn’t have a clue about the needs of working women and mothers since she never held a job.”

Other examples of straw men might be replacing the suggestion, “we should turn the other cheek” with “they advocate giving the terrorists free reign blow us up at will,” or “Richard Nixon lied about his execution of his oath of office” with “they’re accusing all Republicans of treason.” Or my suggesting that we give Christians room to come to terms with the elements of faith with “he’s denying the resurrection.”

So let’s review what Rosen actually said. Hillary Rosen, who is a commentator and lobbyist, tossed off the comment that Ann Perry has never actually worked a day in her life. I saw the video and it was a tossed off rather than a scripted comment. She was doing an interview with Anderson Cooper at the time. I might point out that Cooper promotes a casual atmosphere with his interviews and does not ask his guests to speak with absolute clarity and precision.

By the days end Rosen had been promoted to a top Democratic strategist who said that women who stay at home to raise children don’t actually do any work.

In Rosen’s defense, her comment did not strike me as an attack on lazy moms lounging around the house while their children ran amok unattended. I heard “Ann Romney never had to work for an employer to earn the money to pay the rent and feed the kids like working mothers do.”

Readers might answer that my hearing was filtered by a liberal agenda. I thought of that, so I looked up the verb “work” in the American Heritage dictionary. 1 The first two definitions read as follows:

  1. To exert oneself physically or mentally in order to do, make or accomplish something.
  2. To be employed; have a job.

Stay at home mom is no doubt included under the first definition, but having a job is the second definition. So when Rosen says Ann Romney never worked a day in her life and we know she raised five kids, it seems clear Rosen was using “work” in the sense of definition two. In fact, you would really have to twist her words to assert Rosen was speaking of Romney’s motherhood.

This reminds me of another verse, in Luke, where Jesus warns people not to point out the mote in other’s eyes when we have a beam in ours. Rosen’s bigger point was that Ann Romney is out of touch with the economic realities of American women. Not only did she never hold a job, she probably had a nanny to help her raise her children, not to mention a maid, social planner and chauffeur.

In fact, one woman has already claimed to have been Romney’s nanny and said her duties even included caring for their horse. This has yet to be verified, but we can hardly imagine Ann Romney understands what is is to raise two or three kids while riding the bus to her cleaning job in order to pay rent on a two room apartment.

More than anything else, Jesus hated hypocrisy. And there is nothing more hypocritical than claiming sympathy for working mothers (not to mention working women in general) when your party’s policies place them in the line of fire.

The apostle James addressed the hypocrisy of holding onto wealth while telling the poor to “be warm and filled.” (2:16) This sounds to me awfully like Ann Romney’s connection to American women. When Hillary Rosen dared to point that out, she found herself judged, sentenced and executed in the partisan frenzy that followed.


1I used the American Heritage rather than my beloved Oxford Dictionary of the American Language because I didn’t want to be accused of using a reference with an Anglican monarchical agenda.back