The conservative outrage machine is going to churn on all cylinders over this one, I think -- and rightly so. Not necessarily because Maher said something unusually contemptible here, but for reasons we'll discuss in a moment. The infamous misogynist's shot at Ann Romney comes right around the 4:30 mark, as he ridicules Rosengate as a "meaningless controversy:"
“But what [Hilary Rosen] meant to say, I think, was that Ann Romney has never gotten her ass out of the house to work.”
Maher did go on to qualify his remark, acknowledging that being a full-time mother can be arduous, but quickly added that holding a "real" job is "a different kind of tough thing:"
“No one’s 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 in that tough job, andgetting your ass out of the door at 7 a.m. when it’s cold, having to deal with the boss, being in a workplace, and even if you’re unhappy you can’t show it for eight hours, that is a different kind of tough thing, isn’t it?”
Yes, because mothers never have to get up at all hours to feed their infants, drive kids to swim practice, and make sure everyone is bathed, clothed and fed before heading to school every single day. And they never have to suppress unhappiness or mask certain emotions for the sake of their children. That inanity aside, let's cut Maher a little slack. Working outside of the home is a different beast than being a full-time parent. That's obvious. What's obnoxious when some on the Left either imply or openly state that the latter option is somehow more worthwhile. Plus, if Maher hadn't turned his phrase so crassly -- vulgarity is his default setting, it seems -- no one would have batted an eye. But he said what he said, and how he said it. Lest we forget, he also happens to be a million-dollar donor to President Obama's SuperPAC. When Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a "slut," the collective Left went ballistic. The media covered it incessantly. Republicans were asked to denounce the comments. Advertisers dropped Rush. Obama phoned Fluke to offer support and express solidarity. The "war on women" meme shifted into top gear. Now we have a prominent, big-dollar Obama donor dropping an offensive statement on Mitt Romney's wife, a cancer survivor who has battled multiple sclerosis. It seems like a good time to check in with The One and recall what he said just this past week about attacking politicians' families:
"My general rule is you don’t talk about the spouses of elected officials because they have a really tough job. They’re out there supporting their husband or wife who has chosen to serve in the public eye. I think they’re off limits.”
Team Obama immediately congratulated itself for this bold statement, crowing that Obama had proven that he could honorably "stand up to his friends" or whatever by scolding an ally. Ok, champ. If your own standard is that spouses are "off limits," how do you keep a million bucks from a major donor who spouts off and says your opponent's wife never bothered to "get her ass out of the house to work?" While Obama can't legally direct his affiliated outside group to return the money, he can make his preference very clear. So Obamaland has three choices, as I see it:(1) Pretend there's nothing to see here, as they did when Maher faced scrutiny during the Fluke flap. (2) Issue a half-baked statement disapproving of the comment, but keep the cash because the SuperPAC the president flip-flopped to endorse needs every cent it can get. (3) Return the cool mil, demonstrating that Obama's "rules" of political civility actually mean something. My best guess is that the White House tries the first option initially, then transitions into step two. But that pile of money isn't going anywhere. (If I'm wrong about that, I'll be the first to issue credit where it's due). Meanwhile, the Romney camp is taking full advantage of this flare-up. They're fundraising off of it, producing "moms drive the economy" bumper stickers, and promoting Ann Romney to surrogate-in-chief status. Byron York worries that Republicans are playing the Democrats' game by extending the "war on women" nonsense, but I think this is a slam dunk. Obama's built a substantial gender advantage with women thanks to a unrelenting campaign of demagoguery and false statements from his supporters. The GOP has finally thrown Democrats back on their heels regarding women issues. I see no reason to relent, especially considering their string of unforced errors. Obama's SuperPAC accepted seven figures from Bill Maher, knowing full well that he peddles in crudity and nastiness. Now that he's violated one of Obama's high-minded "principles," Republicans would be committing political malpractice if they didn't beat the drums on this to inflict maximum Democratic discomfort. A manufactured Democrat narrative is blowing up in their faces; Republicans are right to force their opponents to wear it.
UPDATE - Mediaite's Tommy Christopher says because the Romney's could afford nannies, Ann's decision to raise her children amounted to pursuing "a hobby." Keep digging, guys.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography