By Nick DAngelo
Last week two events rocked the political world and may cause some tough problems for President Obama as he heads into what could have been a smooth re-election. Democratic operative Hilary Rosen’s tweet against Ann Romney has created a firestorm about the role of women in our nation. Meanwhile, Secret Service agents remain embroiled in a prostitution scandal on foreign soil.
Rosen, a Democratic consultant who once worked for CNN and the Huffington Post, tweeted last week that Ann Romney, the wife of presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, had never worked a day in her life. The jab reignited a decades old “Mommy War,” dating back to 1992 when Hillary Clinton infamously said, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession.”
At a time when women are beginning to find equality in the work place and in political spheres the comments are simply derogatory. But “Rosengate,” as commentator Bill Maher has dubbed the Twitter spat, could compromise what has been a winning strategy for the Obama campaign and congressional Democrats: The War on Women.
It’s hard to cast opponents as anti-women when some of your own advisors and operatives so carelessly insult stay-at-home mothers. While the White House has attempted to distance itself from Rosen (Senior Advisor David Axelrod even went so far as to remind a CNN anchor that Rosen was “your employee, not ours,” it remains clear that she was a frequent visitor to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
In White House logs, Rosen’s name appears 35 times. Compare that to current CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus who appears nine times. The name “Joseph R. Biden” appears six.
Of course, the incident does not involve the president directly. Regardless, the line may not just be a blip on the radar—especially now that Ann Romney is one of two women who might be living in the White House in January.
The second scandal of the week was more serious. During the president’s highly anticipated trip to Colombia, 11 members of his Secret Service staff decided to bring prostitutes back to their hotel rooms.
On Saturday, it was further revealed that five military personnel tasked with aiding the Secret Service were additionally implicated. Ronald Kessler, the best-selling author of In the President’s Service called the incident “the biggest scandal in Secret Service history.”
Once again, the allegations do not involve the president—after all, this sort of thing is reserved for New York politicians—but it will affect him and his 2012 prospects. Obama’s trip to Colombia was seen as a high profile mission of goodwill. The summit on free trade agreements with Latin American countries involved 33 nations.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos called the trip “a smart move” that could help President Obama keep Hispanic voters as a key bloc, possibly delivering the crucial electoral votes of New Mexico and Florida. That strategy is moot now. The Colombia excursion will now only be remembered for one thing.
What may be the most disturbing part of all is the president’s reaction. While we can all assume that he would not tolerate such behavior from his staff, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refused to say whether or not the president was disappointed. The lack of clarity will continue to be spun as weakness and indecisiveness.
Despite successfully tracking down Osama Bin Laden and removing dictator Muammar Gaddafi from power, this is still a president who will be viewed as militarily uneasy.
White House spokesmen continue to assure the public that President Obama is not distracted by these scandals, but everyone else sure is. In an election year dominated by one-liners and political twists, this can matter.
A new electoral break down by the Associated Press shows that 188 electoral votes are solidly Republican. Obama looks to have 242. At least 270 are needed to win. The difference isn’t miniscule, but the gap could be closed with Florida, Ohio and Virginia—three states Obama carried in 2008 that have made moves to the far right since. Like it or not, for better or for worse, scandals matter during election season.