Almost everyone by now is aware of Hilary Rosen’s comments on CNN smearing Ann Romney and the controversy that followed. Many pundits on both sides of aisle weighed in with their thoughts about the situation, but no column was as factually inaccurate and offensive as that of Salon’s Joan Walsh. Walsh suggested that Ann Romney should be the one who apologizes because of the possible future First Lady’s contention that she knows “what it’s like to struggle.”
According to Joan Walsh, it was wrong for Ann Romney – a cancer survivor who has multiple sclerosis – to equate her struggle with that of women who are not as financially well-off. Dealing with cancer and multiple sclerosis would seem like a justified reason to claim knowledge of struggle, rich or poor, but Joan Walsh appears to disagree.
It is important to note that Walsh chose to leave out a large part of the Ann Romney quote she was criticizing: critically, she left out the part that completely undermines her argument.
Ann Romney did make the point that she knows “what it’s like to struggle,” but she followed that up with “maybe I haven’t struggled as much financially as some people have, I can tell you and promise you that I have had struggles in my life.” Mrs. Romney went on to say, “Mitt and I have compassion for people that are struggling and that’s why we are running.”
Therefore, Ann Romney was specifically not comparing her struggles with those of poor women, as Walsh suggested, but instead emphasizing that she sympathizes with the struggles of others.
Walsh also took the opportunity to connect Mitt Romney to the Paul Ryan budget and attack it with further distortions. Walsh lists a litany of things that she claims the Ryan budget cuts, including nutrition programs for pregnant women and food stamp funding.
In reality, the Ryan budget does not actually cut any of those things. The budget does slow the growth of future spending, but the programs that would be impacted have not yet been identified.
Walsh goes on to claim Mitt Romney “wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood, which provides not just contraception but breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for millions of low-income women.”
This claim is using an out-of-context sound bite to distort his position. Romney has never suggested eliminating a private organization, especially the services Walsh cites. Romney has suggested cutting government funding to Planned Parenthood while it is performing abortions. The organization is free to continue any legal services using private money, and there is no reason to believe that Romney would oppose any group that focused on providing cancer screenings.
Aside from these misrepresentations, Joan Walsh should understand that Ann Romney has every right to discuss her struggles, and those struggles are in no way diminished by the fact that the Romney family has earned the ability to have a more comfortable lifestyle.