The DNC has apologized for using Ann Romney’s London Olympics-bound horse in an attack targeting her husband.
explains that Democrats had used the dressage horse to illustrate its claim that the presumptive GOP nominee was “dancing around the issue” of his decision not to release his tax returns. (Dressage is a dance-like sport, but on a horse. Get it?)
The problem? The horse is used by Ann Romney for therapy related to her multiple sclerosis.
DNC spokesperson Brad Woodhouse told ABC News that the decision to use footage of the horse “was not meant to offend Mrs. Romney in any way, and we regret it if it did.” Woodhouse added that the group won’t “invoke the horse any further to avoid misinterpretation.”
For what it’s worth, the dressage horse, named Rafalca, apparently gets the Romneys a rather hefty tax credit. (Literally, fwiw: $77,000
A headline today on ABC News’ website, about an interview there today with Ann Romney, is “Mitt Romney’s Wife, Ann, Calls MS Diagnosis ‘MyDarkest Hour’
.” Unquestionably, that was a dark hour for her, and one that anyone can empathize with. And, yes, it’s great that dressage helps her regain some of the ability to balance she lost due to her MS.
But here’s my question to Ann Romney and her husband: How much darker an hour does she think it is for someone who’s given that diagnosis and either has no healthcare insurance or has a very high deductible, or who now dearly fears the loss of his or her job, either because of the health problem or for other reasons, and who, for resulting financial reasons or preexisting-condition reasons—or both—may never again have health insurance if the ACA is repealed? Or be able to get a dressage horse.
I don’t think Obama or the DNC should shy away from asking this question. Or from doing an ad in which someone in exactly that position asks it.
UPDATE: Because of the emotional impact of this particular issue, I want post as part of the main post a Comments Section exchange between reader MC and me. Here it is:
MC: I’m confused. Does owning horses or houses somehow make you a bad presidential candidate? And therapeutic horse riding is used for all sorts of medical conditions, so this is not unusual. Regardless of who I think should win the election, Ann Romney is drawing alot of attention to multiple sclerosis, which is a largely unknowable disease at this point. I have it. Its ruining my life. We need more awareness and research so we can actually understand what causes this disease and how to treat it with something better than a 33% success rate. I’m all for candidates hashing out their issues, but I agree with those who are calling for a cease fire when it comes to involving Ann and her illness. MS needs positive attention and deserves respect.
Me: Does owning horses or houses somehow make you a bad presidential candidate? That depends on how you got the money to buy the several dressage horses, each worth several hundred thousand dollars, and to buy the several houses, each worth several million dollars. And on such things as whether or not you paid the full amount of taxes you owed, or instead hid or misrepresented the value of the assets in offshore accounts, including offshore IRA accounts, in order to evade taxes or even to avoid taxes using legal means available only to the very wealthy. And whether your proposed tax policies, such as reducing yet again taxes on the wealthy, would benefit you (the candidate) extensively, to the detriment of a large percentage of the public.
And, of course, on what you (the voter, rather than the candidate) thinks is a bad presidential candidate. My view is different than yours, obviously.
As for Ann Romney’s MS and dressage therapy, it was Romney herself, not the DNC, that raised the issue, by going on television this morning and responding to the DNC ad by telling everyone that she uses the Olympic horse for therapy. (She has several substitute horses when that horse is training or in, say, London for a competition. She didn’t mention that, though, I guess.) She also said that the MS diagnosis was her darkest hour.
Her husband is running for president partly on a platform of repealing the ACA, including the provision that requires insurance companies to accept everyone regardless of preexisting medical conditions, and, of course, the provisions that provide for expansion of Medicaid and for subsidies for premiums for some others.
You say that we need more awareness and research so we can actually understand what causes this disease and how to treat it with something better than a 33% success rate. So true. It’s true for so many other very series diseases, as well, that effect young people and middle-aged people. ([Muscular dystrophy] comes quickly to my mind; someone dear to me died of it two years ago after having lived most of his life in a motorized wheelchair.) But in this country, unlike in every other advanced industrialized democracy in the world, medical advances can be made use of here only by those who have access to employee-benefit medical insurance. You’re obviously among them. But not everyone else with MS or another debilitating chronic illness is.
Although I didn’t put this in my Comment response, I’d also like to note that under Romney’s proposed tax and budget cuts, which are extreme, there would be virtually no federal funds for medical research, either to the universities or to the NIH. So if you’re someone who places a high value on medical research—and I suspect that most people do—this is no small matter to consider when deciding whether Romney is a bad candidate or not.