The latest campaign snit involves a statement by Hilary Rosen, a Democratic “campaign strategist” — i.e., one of the endless parade of never-themselves-elected talking heads that appear regularly on TV “news” shows — about Ann Romney, the wife of the presumptive Republican presidential candidate.
In an appearance on CNN on Wednesday, Rosen dismissed Romney’s comments about seeking his wife’s views on issues of interest to women, stating: “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.” Both Republicans and Democrats, including President Obama, have criticized Rosen’s comments, and Rosen herself has apologized for them.
I think Rosen’s apology should be accepted — but I also think her comment on CNN probably reflects her actual views about stay-at-home parents. She doesn’t think rearing children is “work” in any meaningful sense, and she doesn’t think that people who are stay-at-home parents could really have much to say about the real world issues that are of concern to the rest of us. It’s as if Rosen has bought into the most demeaning stereotypes about stay-at-home Moms and Dads sitting on the couch all day, eating chocolates and watching soap operas.
We should pause to consider how bizarre that belief is, and on so many levels. In our modern society, we are quite properly encouraged to be accepting of all manner of alternative lifestyles — and yet a “strategist” for the Democratic Party cannot even credit a woman who chose what would now be called a “traditional” approach to her family obligations. Similarly, we are told repeatedly of the importance of children and how “it takes a village” to rear them properly, and yet a woman who has elected to focus her efforts exclusively on her children is depicted as some kind of nincompoop. Many of us grew up with stay-at-home Moms who arbitrated fights between siblings, took us to doctor appointments, helped us with homework, and saved us from crushing boredom on rainy days; I always thought it was a tough job and appreciated that my mother was there. (Thanks, Mom!)
I’m sick and tired of people like Hilary Rosen, whoever she is, passing judgment on a woman who, with her husband, made a decision about what they thought was best for their family. Every family deals with such issues. Their decisions are their own business and shouldn’t be the subject of sneering condescension by operatives looking to deliver punchy sound bites in a political campaign. Hilary Rosen may have apologized, but more fundamentally she should be embarrassed for herself, and should do some careful soul-searching about her hubris and her willingness to sacrifice simple decency on the altar of politics.