Hilary Rosen, Bill Maher . . . Who’s Next?
I refer you to my Twitter feed, April 12, 5:45 p.m.:
“So, who’s going to go after Ann Romney next? Bill Maher? Ed Schultz? Rosie O’Donnell? Lawrence O’Donnell? Randi Rhodes? Alan Grayson?”
Then this weekend:
Former adviser to President Obama Melody Barnes said Sunday that talk show host Bill Maher’s comments about the Hilary Rosen, Ann Romney controversy were “problematic” for the administration.
“I listened to those comments, and my grandmother’s voice came in my head. I thought about the phrase, ‘Home training.’ You know, the language, the sentiment are problematic,” Barnes said.
Maher was discussing the controversy surrounding Democratic strategist Rosen’s remark last week that GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney’s wife has “never worked a day in her life” on his HBO show “Real Time” Friday night, describing the uproar as “stupid” and “non-consequential.”
“But what she meant to say, I think, was that Ann Romney has never gotten her ass out of the house to work,” he joked. “No one is denying that being a mother is a tough job, I remember that I was a handful. OK, but there is a big difference in being a mother, and that tough job, and getting your ass out of the door at 7 a.m. when it’s cold, having to deal with the boss, being in a workplace, where even if you’re unhappy you can’t show it for 8 hours.”
The commentator and comedian has been a public supporter of Obama, donating $1 million to the super-PAC supporting the president’s reelection. Republicans have slammed Maher for earlier comments and called on Obama to reject his political donation.
Barnes, former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, added that the president and the Obama campaign have said that civility “matters.”
” ‘The way we talk to each other matters.’ And they’re going to have to, as you said, make a decision,” she said.
The Romney campaign shouldn’t overplay this hand, or appear to revel in victimhood, but it is good that Barack Obama is finally being asked to hold his allies and fans accountable and to hold them to the higher tone he claims to desire in our politics. And it’s easy to imagine the Obama campaign getting regular headaches from their allies, a murderer’s row of folks who have found blurting out their first, nastiest reaction to be quite lucrative: Maher, Schultz, O’Donnell, O’Donnell, Rhodes, Grayson. Throw in Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin, Margaret Cho, David Schuster, and perhaps Chris Matthews’ mouth running away from him. I’d throw in Keith Olbermann, but no one knows where to watch him anymore.
If you’re pulling for Romney, you’ve got to be tempted to put the catnip out there. Ask these folks — and other big-time Obama donors — about Ann Romney. See if they can resist their instincts. (As the parable ends, “What did you expect, I’m a snake?”) Chances are, at least once a week, some liberal with more rage than sense will feel the compulsion that years of anti-Bush, anti-Palin, anti–Tea Party, and now anti-Romney fury fuels, and go on to attack charming nice Ann Romney.
And now, thanks to Rosen and Maher, the precedent is set; every time some liberal goes off and attacks Ann Romney, the Obama campaign will be obligated to issue a pro forma statement that such comments are inappropriate and declare the language problematic.
Heck, we might just end up with a new tone after all.