Politics & Policy

More than Politics

In the background of speeches, cocktail parties, and political scorecards.

St. Paul Listening to Ann Romney, you’ve never heard a woman more at peace with losing. That’s because she’s a winner.

In brief remarks delivered at a reception Tuesday night at the St. Paul hotel here, the wife of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney talked about the couple being better people because of the many Americans they were privileged to meet along the campaign trail. But, in a first-things-first kind of way, she started by talking about her children. She described how proud they are of their father, as Mitt was proud of his father — George, who was governor of Michigan, and also ran for president, in a far-from-easy race.

Mrs. Romney, standing luminous in a white suit with her husband looking on adoringly, spoke as one having more important goals than the White House, but one delighted to have made the sacrifices that an arduous and often unfair campaign requires — because it was unquestionably the right thing to do. She emanated a self-confident pride in what Romney 2008 represented.

Ann Romney suffers from multiple sclerosis. The campaign was a physical challenge for her in ways it isn’t for others. But no one will tell you she did it with anything but grace and love for her husband and her family and her country.

Mrs. Romney’s sentiments were echoed earlier in the day by radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham, who filled in for Sarah Palin at the Republican National Coalition for Life’s “Life of the Party” event earlier in the day. Speaking for and of Palin, Ingraham noted that what we all know about Palin — her son with Down syndrome, her embracing her pregnant unwed teenage daughter — “cuts to the core of what we’re here for.” For this reason, Ingraham observes, “the vicious, horrible attacks” will continue. Ingraham said of Palin, “she knows she wants to do something greater than get the reservation at the cool restaurant in St. Paul.”

Like Romney, Ingraham speaks from the perspective of someone who has been forced to face mortality, having been diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. She’s come back, a physical and professional success, just as Ann Romney has gone from being unable to walk to being a graceful, feminine, supportive representative of mothers who will never shimmer in the media’s glare.

Ann Romney’s big-picture perspective points to the grounding that keeps men and women able to be in politics but not of politics, and to take the unjust blows without despairing. And she stands as a reminder of the crucial importance of having that foundation before ever considering putting oneself and one’s family through what can be an ordeal of a campaign.

One hopes Bristol Palin, the pregnant unwed teenager daughter of Sarah Palin, suddenly thrust into the headlines, talk shows, and tabloids, knows such things. One hopes she knows that although she shouldn’t have to be, she can prove to be a role model for young girls. Having made a mistake — something that needs to be clear in our sex-obsessed culture — she’s doing the responsible and loving thing for her child. She’s working on something that means more than mere convention speeches — and far more than the pundits’ bloviations about those convention speeches. She and her child are the reason her mother and so many other good people are willing to go through the nonsense and pain of politics.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.

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