Update: Juan Williams offers an explanation of his remark here. Read them for yourself and decide whether they address the critique below, especially the dismissive remarks about a "corporate wife."
There's been so much (deserved) criticism of the MSM's race-obsession that perhaps insufficient attention has been given to a gender card that was played last night by Juan Williams on Fox.
Last night, Williams -- by all accounts a nice man and a fine person -- dismissed Ann Romney, noting that she "looked like a corporate wife," which he went on to define as someone "whose husband takes care of her."
This sort of thing has been going on for a long time. When Hilary Rosen attacked Mrs. Romney as someone who hadn't "worked a day in her life", I noted that "[f]or far too long, people like Rosen [and now Juan Williams!] have made a cottage industry of trying to shame and demean women whose calling is that of a mother, wife and homemaker." That is exactly what was going on last night.
Mrs. Romney has a husband who is her family's primary breadwinner and who happens to work in a white-collar private-sector job. So do I. So do millions of women around this country. Since when does that mean we have surrendered our right (or ability) to have worthwhile opinions, valid experiences that buttress them, and the authority to speak out about them?
For several decades now, liberal elite opinion has systematically denigrated and downgraded the importance of women who do, literally, "invest in the next generation" by taking the time to raise its members. There are millions of educated, intelligent, capable wives and mothers around this country who have become intimidated by elite opinion into believing, on some level, that they are not entitled to an opinion or a full measure of social respect simply because they do not go off to a job and bring home a paycheck. And in my view, it is a failing of the feminist movement that this is the case -- and far past time that these women have a voice again, along with a little long-past-due appreciation.
As for Williams' definition of a "corporate wife" as someone "whose husband takes care of her" -- well, yes. You bet. But guess what? We take care of our husbands, right back -- as well as their (and our) children. It is a privilege, and a duty -- and it is work.
Now Williams is quite right that Mrs. Romney can't speak to the experience of single mothers. She hasn't been one. But so what? Left-wing single mothers -- seeking higher taxes and more redistribution and new government programs -- can't speak to the experience of a middle-class stay-at-home mom, who will get walloped with a bunch of new taxes (while forgoing income she could otherwise make) simply because she believes it's important to be at home with her children. Certainly the views and experiences of single women matter . . . but theirs shouldn't be the only views and experiences that matter. Yet Williams and others on the left act as though they are.
Finally, it's become mind-numbingly tedious to hear liberals act as though Ann Romney hasn't encountered any real challenges and struggles just because she is now "a very rich woman," as Williams puts it. As most of our mothers taught us, money cannot buy happiness -- or guarantee a trouble-free life. And in an era when the left constantly inveighs against "greed," it is certainly ironic to hear the left carry on as though having a lot of money is the only thing in life that really matters.