In the world of politics, there's a "keep the families out of it" unwritten rule (consistently broken, by the way) that's bandied about as soon as someone attacks something said by a familial surrogate. Absolutely, children should be out of bounds. Sasha and Malia Obama, a young Chelsea Clinton in the 90s, the younger children of the Palin brood. They're victims of circumstance thrown into the spotlight through no fault of their own.
But the spouses of candidates are a different matter. If you immerse yourself into the political arena, you are now fair game. They actively campaign, give speeches, give interviews explaining policy positions, and travel with the candidate and the campaign. Campaign spokespersons paid to be there are one thing - they're connected to the chaos of campaigns and politics. But someone's wife? How dare anyone respond to someone's remarks when touting their husband/wife candidate? Just ask Michelle Obama. Whether you believe she was misquoted or not, her "really proud of my country" line was one of the highlights of the 2008 presidential campaign.
Just off the top of my head, I don't remember seeing very much pushback against Laura Bush because, well, she seemed likable and milquetoasty and didn't come across as a threat. I may be wrong, but I don't remember her stumping on the trail much either. Michelle Obama was/is a different story, as we all know, because of the fierce anti-Obama faction in this country; the I-want-to-take-my-country-back, she's-taking-away-my-dessert, and just flat out racist faction. But I digress.
From the beginning, Mitt's wife, Ann Romney, has been treated with kid gloves. I say this because the minute it was revealed that Mitt and Ann dabble in Olympic dressage horses and that Ann's horse will be at the London Games in a few weeks, the criticisms arose of their elitist stature. Then it was revealed that the Romney's took a $77,000 tax break on the care of the horse as a business expense.
So what did they do? They played the Multiple Sclerosis card. I don't say that lightly. Yes, Ann Romney as been courageously battling MS for the past fourteen years. And while I don't doubt that horseback riding can be beneficial to the health of an MS patient, really? A quarter million dollar dressage horse for which you took a $77,000 deduction as a loss on your taxes? Riding Ol' Bessie around the farm not good enough?
Today, Ann Romney cannonballed into the middle of the presidential campaign pool when asked if Mitt Romney would release more than his one year of tax returns.
“You know, you should really look at where Mitt has led his life, and where he’s been financially,” Ann Romney told ABC’s Robin Roberts. “He’s a very generous person. We give 10 percent of our income to our church every year. Do you think that is the kind of person who is trying to hide things, or do things? No. He is so good about it. Then, when he was governor of Massachusetts, didn’t take a salary for four years.”
“We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life,” the candidate’s wife added.Sorry, Ann. We're trying to look at where Mitt has been financially... if he'd only release his tax records, we'd see. And tithing is pretty much a requirement for the Mormon Church. Mandatory? No. But it's a commandment. And yes, unless he makes his financial life an open book by doing something as simple as making tax returns available, we're going to think he's hiding something. Illegal? Probably not. But something scathing like little to no tax rate in certain years. Oh, and was he Governor of Massachusetts? We seem to forget because HE NEVER MENTIONS IT. He must be really proud of his record as Governor, huh?
And then comes the kicker. "We've given all you people need to know..." You people? Did she mean the media? The American voters? The rabble? You know how we live our lives. Leave us alone! Let them eat cake!
Welcome to the campaign, Mrs. Romney. It's good to have you.
(By the way, pretty crappy softball interview, Today Show.)