By now, a new “Mommy War” has erupted – this time between Hilary Rosen and Ann Romney. Rosen, a Democratic strategist and talking head, found offense at Mitt Romney using his wife as a way to appeal to women voters – specifically touching on their concerns of the economy. Rosen pointed out that the Romneys are wealthy and that Mrs. Romney hasn’t held down a paying job and therefore the Romneys wouldn’t be front-in-line when it comes to empathizing with poor folks.
And then the shit hit the fan.
You would’ve thought Rosen suggested Mrs. Romney was a terrorist. Immediately, the latent, faux feminism that the Right conveniently pulls out, emerged. You remember the latent, faux feminism of the Right? It’s the same one that insisted that Sarah Palin was just as qualified as Hillary Clinton, and that anyone who said any different was a sexist.
Mind you, when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a hooker, no one said a thing. When Rick Santorum suggested that children would be better off with their dads in jail than to have a lesbian mom, the Right was silent. And do I need to go over the avalanche of sexist crap that Clinton endured throughout her career?
So, feminism in the Right only exists for certain moments in time, and then poof! it disappears.
Apparently, because Rosen dared to call Romney on his bullshit, it appears again. It’s like Brigadoon!
Seriously, though – there’s a lot going on with this debate – namely what constitutes a “good mother”? That’s the underlying question that is being asked. When Mrs. Romney responded to Rosen via Twitter, she insisted that she decided to stay at home to raise her children. She also insisted that raising 5 boys is hard work.
And in this regard, Mrs. Romney and I are in agreement (I know, I got a little dizzy writing that). It is hard work, definitely to try and raise 5 boys. It’s also harder when – like in Mrs. Romney’s case – you’re dealing with Multiple Sclerosis and a bout with breast cancer. It’s rough. She had it rough. From everything I see, Mrs. Romney is a decent lady, a good mom, and a dutiful wife.
But this isn’t about Mrs. Romney, this is about Mr. Romney. Mitt Romney like many Republicans often gets a temporary case of “just folks,” when he tries to downplay his wealth and appear like an everyman. Obviously, it doesn’t work, and he shouldn’t try. He tried to appeal to women voters, but invoking his wife’s name. He tried to appeal to their very real concerns about the economy by implying that he understands concerned women, because he’s married to one.
The problem is he’s not. And that’s where he stepped in it.
Mrs. Romney, of course, has to leap to her husband’s defense, and as a result fired off a Tweet in which she donned the unassailable veil of Madonnahood: the mythic stay-at-home mom. You know who I mean…the mom who loves her children and husband so much, she chooses not to go to work, but instead maintain a household: cooking, cleaning, laundry, raising babies, etc.
Funny, but I remember my mom doing all that and holding down a full-time job – sometimes, two or three to make ends meet. Oh, and she was single.
Let’s be honest, most women can’t afford to opt out of working. This is especially true of mothers. And when dad gets laid off because his company’s CEO decides it’s more profitable to open a factory in China, then it’s mom who has to enter the work place so that food gets on the table. And because the workforce is fucked up and completely hostile to women, she’s not gonna make a whole lot.
Also, let’s be real: it’d be a mistake to think that all stay-at-home moms live like Mrs. Romney. Theyhaveto handle the household budgets, figure out how to make money stretch, and to plan for those moments when money doesn’t come in. Mrs. Romney doesn’t have to.
And as it’s been pointed out, some stay-at-home moms can’t afford to work because once they do, they’ll earn salaries that just squeak them above arbitrary lines drawn that make them “too rich” to qualify for state assistance.
So, all this noise that Rosen is crapping on stay-at-home moms is nonsense.
But as annoyed as I am with the Right, it’s the namby-pamby Left (of which I’m part) that’s really irritating. Fearing a possible “he hates families” backlash, the president and a bunch of his cronies jumped down Rosen’s throat and also repeated the old line that stay-at-home moms have it the worst. This is an election year, so I get it: Obama wants to appeal to the middle-of-the-road conservatives who can’t bring themselves to hate gays and blacks, but still resent having to pay taxes.
And the worst part of all this - and both the Left and the Right are guilty of this – is that a real, honest and productive debate could’ve sprung from this silliness: the struggle of working mothers in the United States. While we’re casting Mrs. Romney is some weird, heroic, martyr-like light, we’re forgetting that stay-at-home moms throughout the country are trying to figure out how they’re going to feed their kids, how will the mortgage payments be made, where will the next rent check come from, how to get tuition together, who to pay for prescription pills, etc. Healthcare and daycare in this country is considered a luxury and not a human right – that should be up for debate, and not whether or not Mrs. Romney’s feelings were hurt.