If Democrats are looking to point the finger at who has work to do in bridging the political gender gap, they need to look no further than a mirror. Democrat strategist Hilary Rosen’s suggestion that motherhood isn’t work was an intentional and insulting shot across the bow in the war on moms. Liberals fight for a woman’s right to choose, why don’t they defend a woman’s right to choose to be a stay-at-home mom?
In an effort to paint Ann Romney as out-of-touch and unqualified to offer assistance to her husband with regard to women’s issues, Rosen, who was paid $120,000 by the Democratic National Committee in 2011 as a communications consultant, said on CNN, “[Romney’s] 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 — why we worry about their future.”
Ann Romney rightly and eloquently defended her decision, tweeting “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.” Not only that, Mrs. Romney pointed out that her time on the campaign trail listening to women across the country has taught her that women are “talking about jobs and the legacy of debt they’re leaving their children.”
After 24 hours of fiery criticism, Rosen issued a half-hearted apology, saying “I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended.” Anyone who was offended? Anyone who is a mom or loves a mom should be offended. You don’t have to punch a clock to understand the economic issues of the day.
In 2010, nearly 5 million women were stay-at-home moms. Many of them cutting corners, making sacrifices, and doing without in order to be with their children.
During my time in presidential politics, three strong conservative moms come to mind; all were faced years ago with the decision to work outside the home or be a stay-at-home mom. All put their children first.
Most recently, I’m reminded of a teary-eyed Karen Santorum standing strong with her husband Rick in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, along with six of their seven children. Weary from their daughter Bella’s recent stay in the hospital, a grueling presidential campaign schedule, and the family’s decision to end their historic presidential campaign journey – Karen was the pillar of strength. The devoted wife and mother was a neo-natal nurse and attorney who chose to stay at home and raise their seven wonderful children.
Secondly, a Sunday afternoon in Iowa in November of 2010, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann didn’t let the campaign trail stand in the way of the Sunday family ritual. On this day, candidate Bachmann gave a testimonial at a church service, made a lunch time stop at a local diner, then she, her husband Marcus and daughter Sophie went to the back of the campaign bus and took a nap. She said “that’s what we do on Sundays in the Bachmann family, go to church, eat lunch, and take a nap.” Michele stayed at home when her children were young; when she chose to work, her husband stayed with the kids. She admits they had to “live on air” to make it work, but it was worth it.
The third mom moment was in Iowa back in 2008, with former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s wife, Janet. The model candidate spouse, Janet tossed lassos in Texas, shot skeet in South Carolina, and held babies across the country to support her husband. Very late one night, I ran into her in the hotel laundry room while she washed clothes for she and a few family members; despite a long day on the trail, she simply said “this is what moms do.” When her children were growing up, she chose to stay at home; as they grew older, she went to work.
Three strong women, three difficult decisions, one common theme: motherhood is a real job and it’s valuable. They realize being a mother lasts a lifetime – from diapers, through campaigns, and long after. You don’t have to be blessed with the title “Mom” to be keenly aware motherhood is the most important work a woman can do; moms are the CEOs of the house.
I don’t expect we’ll see a beer summit at the end of Rosen’s war on moms, but I would venture to say this has been an important teachable moment for this paid advisor to President Obama.
Alice Stewart is a Republican Strategist who has worked in communications on several political campaigns on the federal, state and local level. Most recently Stewart worked as National Press Secretary for Rick Santorum for President and as Communications Director for Michele Bachmann for President. In 2008, she served as National Press Secretary on the Mike Huckabee for President campaign. Stewart is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who worked as an Anchor/Reporter in Little Rock, Arkansas and Savannah, Georgia, and an associate producer in Atlanta, Georgia. She appears on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, CBS as a political commentator. Stewart is a contributor the Fox Nation Blog and Redstate.com.