Edgar S. Penn
Hillary Rosen, a CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist, unleashed a firestorm of ill-will after the following statement on Anderson Cooper 360:
What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that's what I am hearing. Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.
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 worry - and why we worry about their future.
Ann Romney immediately sprung into action and sent her first ever tweet (holy shit!):
I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.
Then the Obama campaign followed suit and distance itself from Rosen’s comment with Obama himself advising that a candidate’s wife is not a fair target.
But that is insane. A candidate’s wife certainly is a fair target when she is acting as a surrogate for the candidate. If you desire your family to be kept out of the public eye, it is best not to leverage them as a tool to attract votes.
Rosen misspoke when she said that Mrs. Romney has never worked a day in her life. She has been a stay at home mom for years, and if that is not a job, I don’t know what is. But Mrs. Romney is objectively not a member of the work force. She is not getting a salary for the hours she spends caring for her children. She is removed from the economic realities of those who work outside the home – and especially removed from working mothers who do everything Mrs. Romney does plus everything Mr. Romney does.
According to a Pew poll from 2009, 66% of mothers in America work either full or part time, and certainly few of the other 34% of mothers are as well off as Mrs. Romney. Mrs. Romney, conversely, works only at home and has few of the economic concerns which plague the life of the working poor and middle class American woman. She is the last person who should be advising anyone about economic policy – yes, even economic policy as it relates to women. Mr. Romney has correctly identified that his wife is female, but is mistaking her for someone who represents all women.
So while the Romney campaign continues to opine about the injustice of Rosen’s comment, lets us take a gander at Mitt’s idea of how America’s mothers could be best served. He purports to believe that Obama has been waging an economic war on women and so, straight from the horse’s mouth, here is his plan that he spoke about in New Hampshire in January:
“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” he said of his welfare reform policy he initiated as Massachusetts governor. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless.’ And I said, ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’”
So Mitt, where was Ann’s “dignity to work”? Or maybe, just maybe, we can all recognize the dignity of women working in and out of the house, the importance of safety nets protecting our most vulnerable people, and that Ann Romney is not an economist.