Skip to main content

Not another Mommy War

By Joanne Bamberger, Special to CNN
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.
Ann Romney campaigns with her husband, Mitt, in Cincinnati before last month's Super Tuesday primaries.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 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.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:15 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
updated 1:28 PM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
updated 6:05 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT