Ann Romney has become a bit of a lightening rod in recent weeks. First there was the question of how many Cadillac’s she drove, then there was the Hilary Rosen “never worked a day in her life” firestorm and now we have Bird-Shirtgate.
Yesterday, Ann Romney appeared on CBS’s “This Morning” with her husband, wearing a t-shirt with a bright yellow bird boldly emblazoned across the front. Not long after, someone looked it up and found that the shirt cost nearly a thousand dollars. The twitter-sphere and net-iverse immediately exploded with “Ann Romney Wears an Expensive Shirt!” headlines. And that prompted many high-profile politicos, including Obama’s former deputy press secretary, Bill Burton, to publicly defend Mrs. Romney, saying that candidate’s wives and families should be “off limits.”
This is a view shared by the president himself. After Hilary Rosen made her comments about Mrs. Romney’s working life President Obama said that while candidates themselves are fair game, wives and other family members are along for the ride and should be left out of it. It’s an argument that’s heard every election cycle on both sides of the aisle.
We heard it about Meghan McCain and Todd Palin, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama…but are these people innocent bystanders? If members of a candidate’s family willingly head out on the stump, are they then subject to the same scrutiny as the candidates themselves? Is that simply part of the equation? And how far is too far? Is making fun of a bird shirt or a headband fair game but comments about Michelle Obama’s posterior too extreme? Is it a question of policy? Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush all spearheaded policy, does that mean they’re up for attack?