Yep, I went on vacation so I’m like behind on everything. This is my excuse for weighing in on this topic long after our twenty-four hour news media has already cycled through it. Still, here’s my two cents…
Mitt Romney owes Ann Romney a nice, big “Honey, I’m sorry I screwed up” bouquet of flowers. Let me explain why.
Unless you live under a rock, it’s possible you might have caught a word or two on the whole “Hilary Rosen attacks stay-at-home moms” extravaganza. Basically, as I understand it, during part of Mitt Romney’s stump speech he includes a reference to the role his wife plays in helping him stay in touch with the concerns of women in this country. To paraphrase Governor Romney when he wants to know what is most on the mind of American women, he asks his wife.
When discussing this choice of women’s issues/economic advisor on the campaign trail Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen made an observation. “His wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” Rosen said on Anderson Cooper’s “AC360” show. “She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we — why we worry about their future.”
This whole bruhaha illustrates some of what I find most irritating about the relationship between politicians and the so-called pundits:
1.) The ability, or sheer crass stupidity, of both parties to be able to willfully misconstrue any statement.
2.) The rapidity by which a candidate can deplore a position he or she backed only weeks before, despite videos and voting records to the contrary. Do they think we’re so dense that we’d forget???
3.) The condescending brass balls on these yokels towards me as a woman and as a stay-at-home-mom. Do they think I’m so brain-damaged… scratch that, yes, clearly, they do.
Let’s start with my first point. Eric and I were on a cruise went this story broke and as we watched CNN, we both looked at each other and said, “You’ve GOT to be kidding?” Mind you, Eric is Mr. Republican and I (duh) am Ms. Democrat and we BOTH agreed on this one. Ms. Rosen was not guilty of saying stay at home moms don’t work. The inference was clear. What Hilary Rosen meant to say was Mrs. Romney had never worked a day in her life OUTSIDE THE HOME. Which is true. Ms. Rosen was guilty of forgetting one thing… every word is examined and then deliberately misunderstood by today’s media. This goes equally on both sides of the aisle.
Moving on the my second pet peeve, and frankly, Romney has been guilty of this even more than most politicians, changing his story. Suddenly, now being home with your children is sacred and above reproach when just weeks ago Candidate Romney urged the parents of young children to return to the work force so that they might enjoy the “dignity of work”. In a town hall address in Massachusetts this past January (2012), he had this to say, “While I was governor,” Romney said, “85 percent of the people on a form of welfare assistance in my state had no work requirement. I wanted to increase the work requirement. I said, for instance, that even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work.”
Furthermore, while Governor Romney made it clear on the Massachusetts state assistance to low-income families (TANF= Temporary Assistance For needy Families) that raising a child did not count as work towards the law’s mandated work requirement to qualify for said assistance. Mind you, I’m not knocking this particular piece of legislation. (I haven’t done the research to do so.) However, I am knocking the hypocrisy of Romney jumping on the lynch mob bandwagon by going after an accidental “moms don’t work” comment by Rosen when he himself has clearly, and with purpose, planning and public crowing of it, held the position for years that being a stay-at-home parent is not defined as work under the law. (See this link for more on the specifics.) Hey buddy, no fair getting all whiny now, you can’t have it both ways.
Though Lord knows, you keep trying.
This brings us to point three: the cajones on behalf of the Right Wing of the GOP. In the past six months they’ve attacked my access to contraception, my right to a safe and legal abortion (not to mention questioning my ability to discern whether I want one), my pride in my own sexuality (unless it coincides with a socialital demand to squeeze out as many children as God decides to send), my privacy to make all these decisions with my doctor or my husband as needed, even my rights as an individual to fight employment discrimination. (And that’s just off the top of my head, I’m sure there’s more, but I get so mad when I think about it I have to be careful or someone could get hurt.) However, now, suddenly they’re running to my “defense” with a condescending pat on the head because I am a SAHM. Save it, folks. I didn’t feel attacked and I sure don’t need your platitudes. You want to help us moms out? Help make our family planning choices affordable and accessible. Quit second guessing our ability to make decisions regarding our own bodies just because it makes you feel uncomfortable. Or, hey, make sure our kids have access to open and honest sex education, to health care and the ability to make informed choices.
Because ultimately choices, or the lack thereof, is what Hilary Rosen was trying to talk about. Eric and I chose to have one parent stay home. In the beginning, we weren’t sure it would necessarily be the wife. Ann Romney also chose to stay home. She chose to have a housekeeper, to live in what I would call your basic mansion and to drive two Cadillacs. An incredibly small number of parents have such choices in their lives.
I don’t think Ann Romney or Hilary Rosen deserve any censure, either for not working or for any remarks they’ve made. I think the one who screwed up here was Mitt. He made his wife his de facto expert on women’s issues, a role she is simply not qualified for. Like anyone else, she can only speak to what she knows. So, if she’d like to talk about her husband’s wonderful personal qualities, his faith, his performance as a husband or father, she’s your go-to-girl. I can’t tell you the concerns of the uber rich woman and she can’t attest the worries of a mom in the burbs like me. Frankly, neither of us can attest to the worries of most working mothers and fathers because we have something they do not. We have choices. While my job as a SAHM has been and continues to be hard work on many fronts, after fifteen years in the actual work force I can say it is not as hard as many jobs outside the home which many women (and men) shoulder in addition to their job as parent. Most of these parents didn’t leave their children and go to work because they CHOSE to, they went because they HAD to. To say that Ann Romney can understand the worries of those parents for their children’s futures, education, health care, even putting a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and food in their mouth is ludicrous. That’s what Mitt Romney did when he used his wife as a source of information she clearly does not possess, he cited the ludicrous and Rosen was right to call him on it.
Governor Romney, you made yourself look out of touch, again, worse yet, you made your wife look vacuous. Go buy that pretty lady some flowers.
Now, when do we get to talk about those idiot Secret Service Agents in Colombia? Who’s cheap enough to try to not pay the poor hooker her $47? I mean, really???