Flash in the Bedpan

September 5, 2012 Topic: Politics Blog Brand: The Buzz

Flash in the Bedpan

Many journalists have reacted to Ann Romney’s RNC speech. But few have done so with the shocking insensitivity of the Daily Beast’s Judith Grey in a piece yesterday titled “Ann Romney’s Big Boo Boo.” Grey derides Ann Romney for omitting the minutiae of MS from her speech:

She failed to play the best card in her hand—the MS card ... If [Mitt] stayed up with her through the night, she should have mentioned it. If he had to carry her upstairs, she should have said so. If he emptied her bedpans, she should have shared that too. … Instead, [Ann] chose to gloss over the subject and speak in generalities. She challenged the notion that she’d had a perfect life given that she’d had five sons, MS, and breast cancer. ‘A storybook marriage?’ she asked rhetorically. ‘No, not at all.’ That was it. That was all she thought to say about the topic.

What a survivor Ann Romney is. Not only has she had to battle against MS, but now she has to endure unwarranted attacks from people like Judith Grey. Sure, the Romneys were lucky to have access to the best care money could buy, but MS couldn’t have been an easy fight. The incurable disease undoubtedly continues to affect Ann’s mental and physical health in private ways that she’d rather not share with the American public. Grey’s bashing of Ann Romney for withholding the contents of her bedpans seems to venture into the unthinkable.

As any caretaker can attest, lifelong illnesses like MS often have deeply unglamorous moments. To suggest that Ann Romney has failed as a spouse and, in this case, a political tool by insufficiently exploiting her own suffering for the benefit her husband (something I can’t imagine he would want) is more than ridiculous—it crosses a line of civility.

Whatever your political leanings, the family of a presidential candidate should not be maimed by the media for keeping its most private moments private, no less the ones that have attended a major personal struggle. A writer who views an illness of this magnitude as a political trump card—rather than an enormous obstacle—undoubtedly needs to reassess the lens through which she views the campaign.