Not another Mommy War
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Mon April 16, 2012
Ann Romney campaigns with her husband, Mitt, in Cincinnati before last month's Super Tuesday primaries.
- Hilary Rosen said Mitt Romney shouldn't use his wife as a surrogate on economic issues
- Joanne Bamberger: Critics of Rosen are missing her point
- She says Rosen right to ask if Ann Romney knows about women's economic struggles
- Bamberger: The real debate is not about stay-at-home moms vs. working moms
Editor's note: Joanne Bamberger is the author of "Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America" (Bright Sky Press). She is the 2012 election editor/correspondent at iVillage.com and author of the political blog PunditMom.
(CNN) -- Does one slip of the tongue by a Democratic strategist equal a left-wing assault on stay-at-home moms? That's what the Mitt Romney campaign would like us to think.
CNN commentator Hilary Rosen, who also is an adviser to the Democratic National Committee, uttered these words about the Romney campaign using the candidate's wife, Ann, as a surrogate on economic issues facing working women and working moms today:
"Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life."
I'm pretty sure Rosen would take those comments back in a heartbeat if she could, because now instead of talking about whether the GOP hopeful is really connecting with the economic struggles of real women, we're debating Mommy Wars 3.0.
I'm not going to defend Rosen's choice of words. Every mother is a working mother. Period. I know how much work my one daughter is, so I can't begin to imagine just how much time and patience it took to raise five boys (six if you count Ann's comments about Mitt in a recent campaign video).
News: Rosen sorry for Ann Romney remark
But the argument that so many of Rosen's critics are missing is this -- she was trying to make a point about whether a wealthy woman who has never had to worry about choosing between buying groceries or paying the electric bill is the best person to be the Romney campaign's surrogate on how women and families are struggling economically today.
Hilary Rosen: Ann Romney 'never worked'
It's a totally fair question to ask whether someone who has never had to work to earn money is the right person to advise anyone on the economic struggles of women today. Asking that question shouldn't be the start of a new skirmish in the stay-at-home mom vs. working mom debate.
As a tactical matter, the Romney campaign was smart to jump on this and try to make it look like Democrats are attacking conservative stay-at-home moms. The whole Mommy Wars meme is one that always gets lots of attention, and it's one that conservative women activists like to promote. But this one has short shelf life.
News: Comment on Romney's wife keeps campaign focus on women
Before this story broke, I was speaking to a group of women about this very topic -- the media narrative of women attacking other women's choices. One mom lamented that she was tired of being asked by men whether she was jealous of other mom's choices or whether she regretted her decision about working and parenting. She said she and her friends don't judge each other's choices, so why do people keep assuming that they do?
It's an excellent question. And one that will hopefully make this a short-lived, nonstory.
News: Team Romney tries to focus Rosen controversy on the White House
The real issue is whether the Romney campaign wants to understand the economic issues so many women are facing in this election year. Yes, he should have his wife reach out to women voters and try to connect as a campaign secret weapon, but it's a mistake for the campaign to suggest that Ann Romney is the one he relies on for economic advice. Remember how the right got so riled up over the idea of Hillary Clinton advising her husband on health care policy?
Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.
Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Joanne Bamberger.
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed June 19, 2013
Yury Fedotov says progress has been made but not fast enough to help millions of trafficking victims
updated 10:58 AM EDT, Wed June 19, 2013
Mark Quarterman says the slaughter of elephants for their tusks is at its worst in decades. As the price for ivory soars, Africa's militant groups are killing elephants to pay for arms and ammunition.
updated 7:29 AM EDT, Wed June 19, 2013
Wendy Weiser says the Supreme Court's ruling on Arizona voting restrictions was a win for voters, but why stop there? It's time to modernize the U.S. election system.
updated 7:37 AM EDT, Wed June 19, 2013
George Gascon, a former police chief, says immigrants are less likely to report crimes if they fear police. It's in law enforcement's interest to bring them out of shadows
updated 8:49 AM EDT, Wed June 19, 2013
Peter Bergen says it's up to the public to decide if the terror attacks on U.S. soil prevented by NSA spying are worth giving up privacy.
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
James Millward says if Chen Guangcheng's departure from NYU owes anything to Chinese pressure, his is but one, high-profile case.
updated 10:46 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
Bruce Schneier says the United States is conducting offensive cyberwar actions around the world.
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
President Obama will speak in Berlin one week before the 50th anniversary of the famous speech by President Kennedy.
updated 8:36 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
CNN let readers choose the topics for the new Change the List project. The votes are in.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
Gloria Borger says the president should be leading the debate on balancing security vs. privacy.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
Alex Footman says he and a former co-worker successfully sued a movie studio over their experience as unpaid interns.
updated 6:44 AM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
Peter Bergen says the public record tends to cast doubt on the NSA's claim that its electronic surveillance has helped stop numerous plot.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Mon June 17, 2013
Fifty years ago, President Kennedy defined civil rights and equality as a moral issue. Patrick Kennedy says today's moral issue is that people with brain injuries and mental illness face stigma and inadequate treatment.
updated 3:47 PM EDT, Mon June 17, 2013
The story of the boy bashed on social media after singing the National Anthem in mariachi costume is instructive.
updated 10:57 AM EDT, Sun June 16, 2013
Bob Greene says the Lone Ranger rode into town, fought injustice and got out. He didn't stop to tweet that he just saved the day.
updated 12:25 PM EDT, Sun June 16, 2013
Ruben Navarrette says that what many of us really want for Father's Day is an attitude adjustment for our kids.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon June 17, 2013
At the outset of his term, the new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, will confront a thicket of national and international challenges.
updated 4:58 PM EDT, Fri June 14, 2013
Clifford Nass says talking to your car, even when you've got your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, impairs your driving because it really confuses your brain.
updated 2:43 PM EDT, Tue June 18, 2013
Nadia Bilchik writes how she grew up in a cocoon of white privilege in South Africa. But she grew to understand the horror of apartheid and the greatness of Nelson Mandela.
updated 2:54 PM EDT, Wed June 12, 2013
Ronald Deibert says unintended consequences of the NSA scandal will undermine U.S. foreign policy interests.