Ohio governor John Kasich doesn't exactly have a lady-friendly reputation. He pays his male staffers 56 percent more than his female staffers. He somehow thought it was a good idea to defend his piddling number of female cabinet appointments by claiming he makes all the big decisions in his family, while his "wife makes all the minor decisions." He's got a hand in the "war on women," too—last year, he passed legislation banning later term abortions without an exception for rape or incest.
And yesterday, at a Romney campaign event, he paid homage to politicians' wives by telling the audience that they're "doing laundry" and "taking care of the kids" while guys like him are making important speeches:
"You know, Jane Portman, Karen Kasich, and Janna Ryan, they operate an awful lot of the time in the shadows…It's not easy to be a spouse of an elected official. You know, they're at home, doing the laundry and doing so many things while we're up here on the stage getting a little bit of applause, right? They don't often share in it. And it is hard for the spouse to hear the criticism and to put up with the travel schedule and to have to be at home taking care of the kids. And where is the politician? Out on the road!"
Connie Schultz, the wife of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), begged to differ. She quipped on Facebook, "Yep, that's us womenfolk, livin' the shadow life. I'd write more, but this senator's wife's gotta a load of socks with my name on it." She followed that zinger with a picture of her dog: "Yet again, the hard, shadowy life of the political dog is completely ignored. FYI, Governor Kaisch: When it comes to the laundry in this house, I'm the beast of burden." (Can we please make #hardshadowylife go viral?)
Here's the thing: Politicians' wives do have it hard. They're expected to stand by their man no matter how exhausting, isolating or humiliating the circumstances. But if Gov. Kasich really wanted to salute these women, he'd mention how many of them endure the same grueling campaign schedules as their husbands. Or how many have careers and causes of their own—the thunders of which are often stolen by their husbands'. He should have said anything, really, besides "doing laundry." Because yes, some political spouses are home at their ironing boards, quietly resenting their campaigning husbands. In which case, Kasich, way to rub it in.