Sometimes a rare flash of honesty makes all the difference in politics. Democratic operative Hilary Rosen single-handedly changed the course of the 2012 election with her dig at Ann Romney, wife of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney. “Guess what, [she] has actually never worked a day in her life,” Ms. Rosen said. Mrs. Romney shot back, “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.” In that instant, the political narrative shifted from the phony war on women to the liberal war on moms.
Ms. Rosen’s intemperate words disrupted what had been a carefully managed campaign to drive a wedge between female voters and Republicans. The men of the Obama campaign tweeted disapproval in an attempt to distance their candidate from Ms. Rosen. Though Ms. Rosen would not quickly apologize as ordered, she did deign to say, “I love stay-at-home moms, and I have nothing against them.” The only thing missing was, “Some of my best friends are moms.”
Ms. Rosen reflects the old-school liberal contempt for women who choose to raise families rather than enter the workforce. Her condescension hearkens back at least to the Carter era, but the country has since moved on. Twenty-first-century Americans are comfortable with the idea that there are many paths available to women, many routes to success and personal fulfillment. Some women work full careers, with or without children. Others take time off from their professions to raise children. Some answer the calling of full-time motherhood and devote their energies to their families and communities, engaging in volunteer work and expressing virtues that the country could use more of. Any of these paths is a valid personal choice, but to liberals, the stay-at-home mom is somehow less of a woman. To them, the word “housewife” is synonymous with “loser.”
Those like President Obama who speak of the “luxury” of having a stay-at-home spouse are oblivious to the element of sacrifice involved. Most American families need a second income just to pay for the rising cost of living and escalating taxes. In families with one paycheck, life is even harder, but it reflects personal choices made by both spouses. As all parents know, going into the office can be a relief compared to the grueling work involved in caring for the needs of a small child. In the Romneys’ case, multiply that by five.
There is an odd echo of the 1992 presidential race, when Hillary Rodham Clinton scoffed that she “could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas” instead of pursuing her legal career. This is the left’s stereotype of stay-at-home moms that Ms. Rosen would like to perpetuate – the housewife as pampered pet. She sees women with no responsibilities, no insight into life outside their homes and no legitimate role in the political process, especially not advising their husbands. Guess what; you are stuck in the bitter 1970s. This shameful attack only makes Democrats appear more desperate as November approaches.