Those words spoken in March 1992 by Hillary Clinton, lawyer and wife of Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton, led to a brief but intense firestorm. Some pundits even speculated that Hillary’s words might wound her husband’s electoral chances. Plenty of Republicans who did their best to amplify Mrs. Clinton’s cookie remarks surely wished the Clintons might soon fade from public view.
It was not to be. Bill Clinton produced two successful terms as chief executive, leaving office with higher approval ratings than any other president in the modern era. His wife went on to represent New York in the U.S. Senate before joining the Obama administration. Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in the forefront of the nation’s foreign policy, juggling crises in Sudan, Iran and North Korea.
The overblown cookie controversy is reduced to nothing but microscopic, stale crumbs.
That’s an important lesson to keep in mind 20 years later. Last week, a similarly silly kerfuffle aroused over comments made by a Democratic strategist. Hilary Rosen, the Democrat in question, disparaged Mitt Romney’s spouse, telling CNN that Ann Romney “has never actually worked a day in her life.”
Rosen, who is not employed by the Obama campaign, was awkwardly trying to connect Mrs. Romney’s stay-at-home-mom status to the Romneys’ immense wealth, saying Ann “never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and … why we worry about their future.”
Rosen sounded a sour note, and the reaction was swift. She was condemned by Obama campaign staffers and even more so by Team Romney and its conservative supporters, who saw it as a chance to fight back against charges of a Republican “war on women.” Ann Romney took to social media to write, “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”
A day later, Rosen was back on CNN apologizing to Ann Romney.
Once more, coverage of a presidential campaign is off the tracks. Hilary Rosen is a lobbyist, communications strategist and CNN analyst with a seven-figure salary. The Romneys reported a haul of $21.7 million in 2010, one of the tax-return years released by the campaign. In short, neither figure in this little, manufactured campaign drama has anything to worry about, economically speaking.
The focus of the 2012 presidential campaign should be the working families who deserve a nation that looks after them and their families. The test will be in ensuring Americans have clean air and water, quality public schools, safe roads and bridges, affordable health care and protections at the worksite. For too long, Americans have seen their share of the American dream crumble like a cookie.