Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Mommy War That Isn't of Course Ann Romney Worked. but She Never Faced Economic Insecurity

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Mommy War That Isn't of Course Ann Romney Worked. but She Never Faced Economic Insecurity

Article excerpt

The mommy wars are pretty much over, and good riddance. Rarely do you see women publicly dissing each other these days over their decisions to work for a paycheck or stay home to care for the kids.

Americans, for the most part, get it by now that women who work outside the home have good reasons for doing so. For many it's a necessity, not a choice. If they don't support their families, no one will. Some also seek the satisfaction of workplace accomplishments. At the same time, it's generally understood that staying home with children can be just as taxing as many paying jobs, if not more so, but with longer hours and no financial remuneration.

So when Hilary Rosen said last week that Ann Romney "never actually worked a day in her life," it provoked a torrent of outraged tweets and comments, turning an argument over the economic pressures facing women into a sideshow of working mom vs. at-home- mom.

This kind of thing happens more and more often at the intersection of instant indignation and viral communication -- the same place that turned "lipstick on a pig" into a phony cause celebre during the last presidential race. In this hot spot, one needs to pick one's words v-e-r-y carefully or suffer the consequences.

Ms. Rosen admitted as much on Thursday, apologizing for her "poorly chosen words." But the damage was done and her point was largely obscured, at least in the short term.

To recap, Ms. Rosen, a seasoned Democratic operative, TV commentator and employed mother of two, was on CNN Wednesday evening, charging that Republican Mitt Romney's vast wealth put him out of touch with the financial struggles of everyday Americans. She also dismissed his claims that his wife kept him attuned to the concerns of women.

"What you have," Ms. Rosen said, "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'm hearing.'

"Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never 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 why do we worry about their future."

Absent the "never worked a day" sentence, Ms. Rosen's point was right on target. But once that unfortunate phrase was uttered -- and even though she explained herself in the next breath -- the sound bite was out there. She'd given the Romneys the perfect escape hatch and also put Democrats in the position of disowning the remark, as did David Axelrod, President Barack Obama's top adviser, who tweeted that they were "inappropriate and offensive."

Ann Romney, of course, stayed home with the couple's five sons and helped her husband pursue his political ambitions. …

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