Lawrence O'Donnell Mocks Ann Romney for Riding Horses to Combat Multiple Sclerosis

With each passing day, the Obama-loving media stoop to new lows in attacking the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and his family.

On MSNBC's The Last Word Monday, host Lawrence O'Donnell mocked Ann Romney for having the nerve to combat her multiple sclerosis by riding horses (video follows with transcript and commentary):

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, HOST: In tonight's Rewrite, Mitt Romney rewrites the definition of an Olympic athlete.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST OF “FACE THE NATION”: I hear you've got an Olympic athlete in the family.

MITT ROMNEY: Isn't that something? Yeah, it's not me. It's my wife, of course. She's the athlete, but in this case, it's not her personally, but she along with two other people purchased a horse and have trained it up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O’DONNELL: She's the athlete. That's what Mitt Romney just said. She's the athlete.

Actually, that’s NOT what Romney just said. He said, “But in this case, it's not her personally, but she along with two other people purchased a horse and have trained it up.”

Exactly what about that clarification to Schieffer’s question wasn’t clear enough for O’Donnell to understand?

The host of Face the Nation said, “I hear you've got an Olympic athlete in the family,” and Romney replied, “But in this case, it's not her personally.”

Is the intellectual capacity of MSNBC anchors and commentators dropping as Romney rises in the polls, or is it just their professional integrity?

Or both?

Let’s continue:


O’DONNELL: So what will the athlete in the family be doing in the Olympics?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: So she's quite thrilled and I'm sure she'll be watching. I have a campaign to attend to, so I won't be able to see it perform. But I'm very pleased for her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O’DONNELL: That's right. The Romney family definition of an Olympic athlete is a person who participates in the purchase of an Olympic athlete, in this case, a horse that the Romneys own. Now, Mitt Romney has always told the story of the family's entry into the breathtakingly expensive so-called sport of dressage as a therapeutic option for Ann Romney’s multiple sclerosis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIEFFER: Dressage?

ROMNEY: Yes, it’s the sport of dressage. Not many people are familiar with it, but something for which she has a passion, and frankly, her getting back on a horse after she was diagnosed with MS was able, she's convinced, to help her regenerate her strength and renew that vigor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O’DONNELL: Now, this is not in any way to make light of Ann Romney’s difficulty with MS, it's obviously a very difficult thing to bear. And there are a lot of things you can do to try to deal with MS. But, come on, dressage does not appear in any of the more traditional courses of treatment. And if it's true that dressage is how wildly rich people deal with this very difficult personal health problem, then why, why does the horse appear on Mitt Romney’s tax return as a business expense, that in 2010 produced a $77,000 business deduction. Not a healthcare deduction, a business deduction for the Romney Limited Liability Corporation that owns the horse as a business.

Mitt Romney was afraid to identify a single tax deduction that he would eliminate or reduce, but I think we can be sure that the Olympic athlete in the Romney family, the horse that masquerades as Ann’s horse, but that is never actually ridden by Ann, would continue to be a fake deductible business expense if Mitt and Ann ever get to watch their Olympic athlete on a TV in the White House.

This is so disgusting it's nauseating.

First off, what business is it of O'Donnell's how Ann Romney chose to deal with her illness?

If going for walks, going to the museum, watching television, or, heaven forbid, riding horses helped "regenerate her strength and renew [her] vigor," isn't that a good thing?

Why should that be the subject of scorn and derision, especially from a representative of a so-called "news network?"

As for Romney's taxes, it is safe to assume that their LLC purchases horses as an investment just as most people do. Income is derived from breeding and/or selling them. As such, expenses associated with their training and upkeep are deductible.

This has absolutely nothing to do with healthcare. But why should we expect an ignorant shill such as O'Donnell to understand that?

Furthermore, who is O'Donnell to ridicule anyone for his or her wealth? According to Celebrity Net Worth, his estate is valued at $8 million.

That makes him just another rich liberal castigating Romney for his wealth.

It never ends, does it?

(HT @PoliticalPAW)

*****Update: I received a very interesting email message from NB reader Jeffrey Peters who is a volunteer to Maryland Special Olympics and 4H (with permission):

Dressage is a very common technique to help many types of disabilities, and is one of the few that tends to work for many problems that lack effective treatment. Therapeutic Riding is a major event and is a fundamental component of the Special Olympics. In Maryland, over 100 riders participated in the Special Olympics Therapeutic Riding event earlier in June. Dressage is not for "rich people." Most of the Special Olympians are from lower income families. Most participants are just honest people who enjoy a very popular sport. This is a part of the matter that is so often ignored. It is honestly upsetting to see such hate against an event that helps so many special needs adults and children.

One such facility is the Maryland Therapeutic Riding center:

Maryland Therapeutic Riding (MTR) is a non-profit organization located between Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland on a beautiful 25-acre farm. Utilizing certified instructors, licensed therapists, volunteers and specially-trained horses, we offer high-quality horseback riding programs to open new pathways of healing for children and adults with a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional challenges.

Therapeutic Riding is a treatment for rehabilitating a range of physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. PATH certified instructors use the horse as an instructional tool to teach riding skills and reach individualized goals and objectives. Conditions served include: cerebral palsy, spina bifida, neuromuscular disorders, post-traumatic brain injury, autism, ADHD, and cognitive disorders. Riders see an overall improvement in their quality of life. They experience improved self-confidence, strength, balance, coordination, attention span, and language and social skills.

I also discovered that therapeutic riding is used to help "wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan improve their balance, coordination and hone other valuable physical therapy skills."

As fate has it, suburban Chicago's Daily Herald just published a piece on this issue on - wait for it - Saturday (HT @CindyCoops):

Documents from Ancient Greece show horse therapy dates to 600 B.C., with the practice growing in popularity in recent years around the suburbs and across the country.

Earlier this month on a three-day campaign stop in Florida, Ann Romney, wife of the former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential hopeful, visited a therapeutic horse-riding facility telling patients she was unable to walk at one point because her multiple sclerosis symptoms were so severe. But, Ann Romney said, the “excitement of getting on a horse” helped her build her strength and caused her symptoms to ease.

Once again, this article was published only three days ago!

As such, shouldn't an MSNBC anchor either know of the medical and psychological benefits of therapeutic riding or have someone on his staff investigate it before mocking a presidential candidate's wife for claiming it helped her overcome her serious illness?

Or might uncovering the facts inconveniently interfere with his agenda?

*****Update II: NB reader Mark Neidl offered his thoughts via email (with permission):

My son has Cerebral Palsy and therapeutic riding benefitted him as well as many other children and adults who suffer from many different ailments. People like the Romneys support organizations such as these and without their gifts and donations, people like my son would not have had the opportunity to participate in a program such as this since we are not wealthy as are 90% of the people who have benefitted from therapeutic riding. I recall my son competing in “Dressage” once a year which allowed him to compete against other riders and showcased his abilities to everyone. We have ribbons to prove it and my wife and I are positive he improved because of this program.

Mr. O’Donnell’s comments and mocking of Dressage were quite insulting.

Here is the website for this wonderful program: http://www.sheacenter.org/

Mr. Neidl informed me in a follow-up message, "Our son graduates this Wednesday, quite an accomplishment for him since his diagnosis at birth was pretty dire. Throughout his life he has been helped by a lot of people and, God forbid, many of them wealthy."

*****Update III: Today Show Covered Benefits of MS Patients Riding Horses Same Day O'Donnell Mocked Ann Romney For It.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.