Hilary Rosen Should Donate to Multiple Sclerosis Foundations


I thought I was done blogging for the day.

But, like Ann Romney, my sister suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. So, even though Hilary Rosen has correctly apologized for attacking Ann Romney for staying at home, being rich, and not representing economically-challenged women in America, I am still furious about the saga in a way, I suspect, that only people who know firsthand about MS, as Multiple Sclerosis is known, can be furious.

Today Ms. Rosen referred to Ann Romney’s “illness”.

Ha. Illness sounds like a head cold.

MS is far from being a head cold.

Every time I’ve watched Ann Romney up there on that podium late at night with her husband, all that energy flowing during the Primaries, I am amazed.

Because I know how tough it is for people who suffer from MS to manage their energy. I know that the later in the day it gets, the harder it is for them — and no matter how rich you are, there is no magic bullet to make you feel better or the weakness go away.

Drugs can help but at the end of the day you have to manage your days and your time so you do not get overtired. Ann Romney has said she copes very well with a mixture of Eastern and Western medicines — and she looks great. But who knows what the real story is? Recently I was sitting in my office with Scott Johnson, the CEO and founder of the Myelin Repair Foundation — a non-profit organization looking at alternative treatments for the disease. Johnson has had MS for 36 years and told me “MS is a secret disease. Far more people have it than is documented.” In other words they prefer to struggle privately than broadcast it.

My sister has to grocery shop in the mornings and rest in the afternoons. She doesn’t like people knowing quite how tired she gets.

I know of others who are much, much worse off. They cannot drive, they cannot walk, and slowly the brain goes too.

That Ann Romney even appears on the campaign trail with her husband, let alone supported him to run for president — not once, but twice — speaks volumes about her courage and utter selflessness. I have also noticed how little she talks about herself, her own battles both with MS and with breast cancer. When she’s up there, it’s all about Mitt.

I don’t care what your politics are, but to attack someone who suffers from a debilitating chronic illness — and has also battled breast cancer — because they are rich and unrepresentative of women who work? What is that?

Many people with MS cannot really work. Especially not in highly-charged America with its grueling hours.

Yes, Ms. Rosen is right: women and women’s economics are hugely important and should be debated heavily in the build up to November. All of us mothers worry about earning enough, paying for our children, and we all want policies to incentivize us to do this. But to knock someone with a chronic illness who has not really talked about her illness, not exploited it for political gain, is shockingly wrong and grotesquely ill-informed about the disease in question.

I am very glad and grateful Ms Rosen has apologized. Let’s drop this line of attack. And start over.

But a donation to the National Multiple Sclerosis society — or to Mr Johnson’s foundation, might not go amiss. V