OPINION: Never worked? Democratic strategist puts foot in her mouth on Ann Romney's stay-at-home mom status
AP Photo | Nam Y. Huh
No, I am not weighing in on the age-old debate over "right to life" vs. "choice." I am adding my two cents worth on the ill-publicized comments from Democratic National strategist, Hilary Rosen, about Mitt Romney's wife.
As heard on CNN, Rosen told the world that Ann Romney, wife of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, "has never worked a day in her life."
Since when is raising 5 boys not work? Sure, it is easier when you are a millionaire but, raising a family is still work.
I'll bet Ms. Rosen has a lot of bruises on her body after being touched with a 10-foot pole by Democrats after this foot-in-the-mouth comment.
David Axelrod, one of President Obama's top political advisers, called her comments "inappropriate and offensive."
Not soon afterward, Rosen was doing the Michael Jackson moonwalk -- politically back-pedaling and shuffling saying, "I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended."
Like, anyone with a mom?
I learned the value of a stay-at-home mom from an early age.
As a young newlywed, I made a similar dumb gaffe (although in the 1980s, it was NOT a 24-7 news cycle/national audience) to my then mother-in-law.
A stay-at-home mom, I was sitting in her home, enjoying one of her delectable 3 square meals a day, when this seemingly innocent conversation began with this proud, Polish mom of 9.
My mom, you see, raised 7 kids. She also worked outside of the home for a paycheck.
I don't recall how the conversation started, but sitting at her dinner table, enjoying another free delicious meal, I responded to something she said: "The difference is my mom works." The implication being that my mother-in-law did not.
The silence was painful and only more piercing when she responded, "No, the difference is your mother gets a paycheck for the work she does."
It did not take much reflection to see how right she was. At that moment my respect for her and all moms shot up 1000 percent. I had sat at her table benefiting from her work for years.
Running a household of 11, putting all the kids through Catholic school, feeding, clothing, managing a budget in a caring and nurturing environment, was indeed work of love that paid high emotional, not financial dividends.
Years later having had partial responsibility for child rearing, my respect has only been magnified.
Democrat Hilary Rosen provided a gift to team Romney. Polls show Obama with 20-point advantage among women voters. The focus prior to this ill-considered comment by Ms. Rosen was on the Republican "war" on women.
There is an old adage that in politics, "when your opponent is beating himself, let him." Republicans in general, and Romney in specifically, had been doing a good job of alienating women voters with their rhetoric.
My former mother-in-law is far from a flaming-throwing liberal women's rights advocate. She worked very hard raising her family to become successful tax paying citizens with a bevy of grandkids. She contributed mightily to her kids and society -- and was never given a paycheck for it.
She did earn love and respect.
Ms. Rosen helped change the conversation. While not politically helpful to team Obama, she has helped spark a national conversation.
Women's rights, gender equity, equal pay, health care and an anemic economy impact women. These issues deserve our leaders' attention and action.
Now, with this particular sideshow behind us, let's hope Obama and Romney can raise the debate to one that elevates the role of women in our society, and develop sensible policies recognizing their unique needs, and contributions. We need to get the focus back to where it belongs -- getting the country working again.
First lady Michelle Obama had the last word on this topic when she tweeted, "Every mother works hard, and every women deserves to be respected."
Don't mess with mama!
Tom Watkins is a former state superintendent of schools and state mental health director for Michigan. He is currently a U.S./China business consultant and can be reached at: email@example.com.