Hilary Rosen, Ann Romney, and what the “stay at home” mom conversation overlooks

If you happened to be away from your computer or CNN last night then you missed Hilary Rosen’s now controversial comment about Ann Romney.  Mitt has used his wife Ann to strategically deflect criticism from his problematic positions and comments on women’s rights.  Ann, the more likeable Romney, and the one which doesn’t appear to be run by an internal hard drive has tried to relate to American women on the issue of the economy and jobs.

On CNN last night Hilary Rosen a democratic commentator, completely unaffiliated to the White House or Obama campaign said, Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life,” explaining that when Mitt Romney uses his wife as a source to understand the concerns of women he’s not getting an accurate picture because Ann Romney, with a wealthy family, has not had to deal with the same concerns that most American women have had.  Romney’s camp fired back immediately calling Rosen an Obama campaign advisor (she is not) and David Axelrod and Jim Messina sent out tweets condemning Rosen’s comments as offensive and inappropriate.

But the real magic started when Ann Romney broke out her Macbook to join the twittahs to speak her piece apparently very offended by this comment but more likely seeing it as an opening to restart the “mommy wars” of the 1990s.  Ann’s first tweet evah read, “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”

While raising children is hard work whether you do that alone or whether you do it while working isn’t really the issue.  Sure Ann made a choice but it was a choice she was free to make because of her economic status.  Many American women would love to stay home and raise their kids and not have to work but they don’t have that luxury.

Michelle Obama worked and raised her children because she and the president both had to pay off student loans.  Something tells me Mitt and Ann Romney are unfamiliar with the terror that accompanies anything arriving in the mail marked “Sallie Mae.” And think for a moment how the right would react if Michelle Obama had chosen after law school to stay at home and raise her kids instead of working as a hospital executive.

There is also an issue of how the “stay at home” moms who are praised tend to be white and suburban.  While a certain level of economic success allows for these women to stay at home with their kids instead of also bringing in money to support their families and put food on the table, I would be very hard pressed to find anyone, particularly on the right praising a woman of color for being a “stay at home” mom.  I hear a lot of “welfare queen” language or that our current president is a “food stamp” president but nothing about how wonderful it is that so many women of color are choosing to stay home and raise their kids.  More likely women of color who are “stay at home” moms would be viewed as “lazy” or “poor role models” for their children.

This whole faux controversy obscures the real point.  Mitt Romney’s gap among women voters is very real and it’s not going to go away just because he ignores his past comments and dispatches his wife to tweet.

Welcome to the general election kids.  It’s gonna be a long summer.

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