Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hurricane Ann

A year and half after I disconnected our cable TV -- finding it too noisy, too expensive, too time-wasting and too distracting -- HOBB resubscribed.

"Join me," my husband implored, last night, from the living room couch where he was avidly watching the Republican National Convention. Having recently arrived home after a day at North Shore University Hospital with FOBB (father of Bungalow Babe), followed by a trip into Brooklyn to retrieve Little Babe from an end-of-internship dinner, I was happily seated at the dining room table, replying to work emails.

"Ummmm. O....kay," I reluctantly assented, abandoning my earlier plan of achieving Nirvana by watching a few episodes of Law and Order: SVU on Netflix.

Plunking down on the adjoining couch, instantly joined by Alfie and Nala the Pomeranians, I arrived just in time to watch Ann Romney take the podium and enchant America with her captivating kindergarten teacher cadence and her message of "Can't Help Loving that Mitt of Mine."

And while I admit to being less horrified than I thought I would be by the prospective president's wife, I was demoralized by the mythology of America that she perpetuated and the real life cluelessness she cannot help but exude.

"Oy, it's the Hallmark card candidate," groaned HOBB, buried beneath Mrs. Romney's plentiful platitudes and smiley-faced sentences. My snark-o-meter began flipping out with every emphatic pronouncement. From my Morningside Heights apartment I was morphing into the elitist Democrat that the new GOP fears.

"Could she be more shallow?" I mumbled.

As Ann Romney delivered her speech, I thought of the vast (and dare I say goyische) America outside of the borders of New York City and felt zapped back to an unwelcome childhood feeling: of being a foreigner, a member of a not-especially elite minority.

Mrs. Romney's blond ambition for the White House -- coupled with the confidence that her vanilla, robotic Ken Doll husband can restore the greatness of America -- made me shudder. Was there ever a more extreme counterpoint to Michelle Obama, both visually and substantively?

Listening to her address the American public with the authority of a mother and grandmother and hitting all those high notes that her advisors and speechwriter included with the hope of appealing to the average American woman (whoever she is) reminded me of being a pre-pubescent tomboy with short, dark hair and scabby knees who looked at the available female role models... and declared them dismal beyond belief.

As I watched Ann Romney unpack her message of "I'm just a regular gal," it was painfully obvious just how irregular she is. It is probably safe to state that the majority of American women do not know anyone who is anything like Ann Romney. Yet, the semantic sleight of hand she performed last night was intended to make female voters think, "Omigod! Ann Romney is just like me!!" or perhaps wish to be her BFF.

If ever there was a poster couple for the One Percent, it is the Romneys.

And while it is not a crime for a person to be without a profession, my vision of the 21st Century precluded coiffed and coached characters like Ann Romney being held up as paragons of female achievement.

Mrs. Romney's message of love to America, alluring at first, ultimately made me queasy because in her party's playbook, all Americans are created equal but some are more equal than others.

And that ethic worries me not only on behalf of my children but for my increasingly vulnerable parents.

Paraphrasing Anatevka's rabbi from Fiddler on the Roof: "May God bless and keep Ann and Mitt Romney...far away from us!"

Alessandra Stanley's analysis of Mrs. Romney's speech is especially on target, I think.

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