Welcome to the next seven months.
Plenty of substantive issues were circulating Thursday, including the sixth anniversary of “Romneycare,” a signature issue from Mitt Romney’s past that’s going to play a big role in how he sells his candidacy, and a big speech by Vice President Biden about the Buffett Rule.
But you’d never know it. The day began with Democrats on their heels, rushing to condemn a Democratic CNN contributor, and ended with Republicans calling out their allies in the Catholic League. Even in a political culture that counts psuedo outrage as a large chunk of its diet, the conversation careened out of control quickly.
Thanks in part to Twitter — and in part to a Republican Party desperate to take back the high ground in the battle for the female electorate they alienated with abortion-restricting laws and opposition to contraception access — the campaign went off the rails with Hilary Rosen-gate.
On CNN Wednesday night, Rosen claimed Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life” as part of a criticism of Romney’s claim to know what average American women want from their president. The Obama campaign immediately condemned the comments and the DNC chair called them “disappointing.”
That was all the red meat conservatives, who in general are not thrilled with Romney, needed — an attack on mothers, let alone the universally adored Ann Romney — became a rallying cry.
A media circus ensued, and included a conference call on which women supporters of Romney’s insisted Rosen’s gaffe represented the official opinion of the White House, and a kiss-off of the “Hilary whatserface” incident from Barbara Bush, who liberally tossed around the word “whatever.”
But just as Republicans were basking in it all — Rosen had apologized by the afternoon — the Catholic League For Religious and Civil Rights, a conservative group, lashed out at Rosen for being a lesbian, and caught all adoptive parents in the crossfire.
“Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life,” the Catholic League tweeted. “Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own.”
And so, less than 24 hours after the leadership of the Democratic Party had to disavow the comments of a person not at all involved in their presidential campaign, the Republican Party had to do the exact same thing.
“The @CatholicLeague should be encouraging adoption, not demeaning the parents who are blessed to raise these children,” RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer tweeted.
The apology train had come full circle, but not before it eclipsed any actual news that might have had a run in the spotlight. Is this what the general election is going to be like?
“Dear God, I hope not,” said one unaffiliated Republican consultant who worked in the Republican primaries. “This presidential campaign makes me want to start doing drugs.”
Indeed, it may be time to reach for the Valium: Tomorrow, after all, is Friday the 13th — and Romney is slated to speak to the NRA National Convention.