Now that Mitt Romney is the presumed Republican presidential nominee, we have from now until Sept. 6 -- the conclusion of the Democratic convention -- to frolic in the useless and unproductive waters of the "Silly Season."
The "Silly Season" is that period of the presidential race, which has seemingly increased in length, where the public discourse, rather than opting for issues that are important, focuses on matters tantamount to much ado about nothing.
Last week, CNN pundit Hilary Rosen provided legions of right-wing devotees fodder to substantiate the stereotypes many hold for liberals. Rosen said that Ann Romney, wife of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and a one-time stay-at-home-mom, cannot understand the economic concerns of women because she "hasn't worked a day in her life."
Rosen's remarks do not require any further commentary -- reasonable persons can reach a near-unanimous conclusion that her words were ill-founded. While Rosen's comments were most unfortunate, through the filter of the "Silly Season" they take on new meaning.
Republicans immediately tried shifting the so-called "war on women" to an alleged "war on moms" in an effort to win back female voters who, according to polling, are supporting Democrats in large numbers.
If there is overwhelming support among women for Democrats, it won't be turned around by the gaffe of a pundit, who does not speak for the party or the White House.
Perhaps Republicans should examine the policies they are offering and the effect they have on women.
According to the 2011 Census figures, the poverty rate among women rose from 13.9 percent in 2009 to 16.2 percent in 2010 -- the highest rate in 17 years. The "extreme poverty rate" also reached a record high from 5.9 percent in 2009 to 6.3 in 2010.
Closely tied to these statistics are those provided by the Children's Defense Fund that nearly 16 million children live in poverty. Of those, nearly 7 million live in extreme poverty.
If you're looking at those numbers saying to yourself they occurred on President Barack Obama's watch, you would be correct. But you must also factor the recent federal budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, which Romney has endorsed, and its effect on women.
According to Bloomberg News, the Ryan budget calls for:
Is anyone suggesting that women would be more influenced by the dismissive comments from a cable news pundit than the reality of policies that potentially affect their livelihood? If so, is that not equally insulting to women as anything offered by Rosen?
Republicans have placed themselves in a paradoxical conundrum, the dignity of work versus the dignity to stay at home while championing policies that make both increasingly difficult.
But candidates from both parties would rather soothe the electorate with their concerns for the amorphous "middle class" without substantively addressing the issues that are creating a wider gap between rich and poor.
I support the Buffett Rule, which would ensure that those making more than $1 million would pay a tax rate of 30 percent, but are Democrats suggesting that its passage would solve America's economic woes?
Unfortunately, the "Silly Season" is all we have left. Neither major political party is willing to have a substantive conversation about poverty. It seems to be the one area where there is truly bipartisan support.
So sit back and relax, as our emotions will surely be tantalized over the next several months by nonissues.
Who knows what new and inconsequential matters will entice us as we await the end of the Democratic convention on Sept. 6?
Contact Byron Williams at 510-208-6417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.