Campaigns distort women’s issues

April 20, 2012


Virtually everything said and done in a presidential election year distorts the truth, much like concave and convex mirrors in a carnival attraction alter one’s true reflection.

That kind of distortion occurred in the recent dustup over whether women who choose to stay at home can completely understand the economic challenges and personal struggles faced by women who choose, or need, to work outside the home while raising children.

There is no question that professional women receive much more societal validation than “stay-at-home moms.” Few magazine covers at the checkout line or full-page ads promoting events and awards to “successful” women, laud mothers who stay home to raise their children. There aren’t a lot of television shows today like “Ozzie and Harriett,” “Leave It to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best.”

The view expressed by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen that Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, has “never worked a day in her life” and thus can’t relate to struggling families is bogus. Can a politician who has never held a job in the private sector relate to those who work there, or are searching for a job there? I’m thinking of the former community organizer, now president, Barack Obama. Can a career politician like Vice President Joe Biden identify with someone who doesn’t have the perks — planes, limousines, high pay and discounted, or free health care — he has enjoyed for most of his career?

Former Vice President Dan Quayle’s wife, Marilyn, who is an attorney, said it best at the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston: “...having a profession is not incompatible with being a good mother or a good wife. ... Women’s lives are different from men’s lives. We make different trade-offs. We make different sacrifices. And we get different rewards.”

If a woman “chooses” to work at home (and aren’t politically liberal women supposed to support a woman’s career choice?) and if she feels adequately compensated, shouldn’t her choice be affirmed, not only by her husband or partner, if she has one, but also by society?

Similarly, if a woman wants to work, or must work outside her home, shouldn’t she be equally supported by society and not made to feel added guilt and pressure? Reasonable people ought to be able to answer, “yes,” to both questions.

Still, all of this is a distraction. Even if Ann Romney had chosen to work outside her home (and she did perform a great deal of volunteer work while battling breast cancer and multiple sclerosis), and even if she then could — in Rosen’s mind — relate to other women who made that same decision, how would that make anyone else’s life better? Would such a choice by Romney have improved the economy so that women who want to work outside the home, but can’t find jobs, get one? Would it have allowed women to stay home if they were afforded that “luxury”?

This is what politics has become. It’s about feelings and image, not substance and ideas that work. Because of skyrocketing debt, high unemployment and the failed policies they have promoted, Democrats cling to feelings and focus on one’s ability to relate. But it’s a fiction to believe that the only women’s issues of importance are those promoted by the left.

Liberal women are attempting to dominate women who share a different political and moral worldview. It’s all a house of mirrors; nothing more than a distortion of reality in an election year. Expect to see more of the same between now and November.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


cato_the_elder 3 years ago

"Can a politician who has never held a job in the private sector relate to those who work there, or are searching for a job there?"


progressive_thinker 3 years ago

"Can a politician who has never held a job in the private sector relate to those who work there, or are searching for a job there? I’m thinking of the former community organizer, now president, Barack Obama."

Hey Cal, why do you continue to spew misinformation that our president "never held a job in the private sector." This is just another right wing canard that has been debunked.


Oh yeah, now we can expect the right wing claim of "liberal media bias" that follows when the facts do not support the misinformation that they assert.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

Now that Romney has the nomination, we can expect to see Republicans make the argument, ad nauseum, that only someone with Romney's resume (and Romney is, by definition, the only person in the world who does have it) is qualified to be president.

Fossick 3 years ago

"It’s about feelings and image, not substance and ideas that work. "

Absolutely, because everyone knows that RomenyCare is soooooooo much better than the ObamaCare that is based on it. Or something.

Corey Williams 3 years ago

Or the healthcare plan alternative republicans proposed in '93

jafs 3 years ago

Campaigns tend to distort all issues.

And, the question of whether or not elected officials can relate to the average working American is a fine one to ask, and would apply to all of the hypothetical questions posed in this column.

When only very rich people can afford to run for office, most of them will be out of touch with average folks, and when they become very rich once in office, this continues to be true.

woodscolt 3 years ago

"But it’s a fiction to believe that the only women’s issues of importance are those promoted by the left."

Guilty Cal, of doing just what your lame column is blaming on others. Women's issues are women's issues. They don't get to become liberal issues just because they don't follow your political ideology.

"....The view expressed by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen that Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, has never worked a day in her life....."

OK Cal, once again, jump on the political bandwagon on this one just as you try to blame others for doing just that. Hilary Rosens comments were made in the context of the job market that Ann Romney has never had to succeed at. Ann Romney has never had to fill out a resume. Ann Romney has never had to go to a job interview. An Romney has never had to be demoralized by not getting "the job" she interviewed for that would feed her children. Ann Romney has never had to suffer the consequences of not being able to feed her children.

There is a difference between going out and participating in the job market and its process. In no way were Hilary Rosens comments intended to disrespect the amount of work stay at home moms do 24/7...... that was left to people like Cal who chose to politicize Hilary Rosens comments rather than take them for what she really said. Guilty as charged, cal.

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

Ann Romney spent five years without maids and nannies and had to do her own housework, take care of her own kids and cook her own meals for her family. They didn't "entertain" and they ate mac and cheese or tuna a couple of times each week. Oh the privation and horror! How she suffered! She should write a book about it some day and inspire everyone with what a shining example of feminine strength and courage she truly is!

chootspa 3 years ago

It was awful. All she and Mitt had to live on was the (over $350,000 in today's money) worth of stocks Mitt's dad gave him as a high school graduation present.

Linda Endicott 3 years ago

A whole five years without maids and nannies? Oh, the humanity...

I'm surprised she's not still in therapy over it...

woodscolt 3 years ago

Great job BAA of grading the dems on how well they have been able to cure the problems the Bush regime stuck us with while having to deal with the republicans road blocking every attempt the dems have tried to help overcome the disastrous republican policies you want to bring back. And before you say, Oh blame on Bush, ill remind you that you are guilty of not learning from history, You know the part where you need to understand history so you don' repeat the same mistakes.

asixbury 3 years ago

Are you denying that it was Bush's wars and policies that put the country in the situation it's in to begin with? Obama's presidency inherited a mess from Bush. I'm not saying he's done a good job getting the country out of the mess. But the republicans have prevented everything he comes up with, just because his party came up with it. When politicians learn to work together for the good of the country, and not against each other that is when this country will once again be headed in the right direction.

jayhawklawrence 3 years ago

This really started with Rush Limbaugh as far as I can tell. He called an innocent young woman a slut and tried to exploit an issue that the Republicans thought they could twist to make Obama look like he was attacking religion.

It was a scam from the beginning but unfortunately when wind bag extraordinaire Limbaugh, who has achieved near deity status among Republicans, used his power and position to bully an innocent young woman, Republicans failed the character test and decided to stand by their self proclaimed ideological leader of the conservative movement.

After calling an innocent young woman a slut in front of the world, solely for self serving reasons, he gives a sarcastic, mocking apology and thinks that is good enough.

The fact that Cal Powers continues to spin this issue into something else says everything we need to know about Cal Powers.

Flap Doodle 3 years ago

Agreeing to be a prop in a piece of political theater takes one out of the "innocent young" category. BTW, did you have a quota for how many times you could use "innocent young woman" in your post? BBTW, who is Cal Powers?

progressive_thinker 3 years ago

"...prop in a piece of political theater..."

Voicing one's views and wishes to their elected officials makes that person a "prop in a piece of political theater"?


chootspa 3 years ago

So, to summarize. A TV pundit said something dumb, it was taken out of context, everyone on both sides condemned the idea of motherhood not being work, including the pundit herself, and she apologized for the remarks. That was a total distraction, but I'm now going to spend an entire column making sure you don't forget about that distraction all the while calling it a distraction. Are you distracted yet?

Armstrong 3 years ago

It's a great distraction from Obama's lack of record to run on.

chootspa 3 years ago

Yes, the GOP war on women sure is. If they'd stick to the economy instead of trans vaginal ultrasounds, they'd probably win.

jayhawklawrence 3 years ago

It is not the first time I have called him Cal Powers. I guess you got me there.

Predictable, however, that you are still on board with persecuting this young woman.

If there is a theme that seems to be consistent among Republicans it is that anything that gets Obama out of office is acceptable. The end justifies the means.

The reason Republicans are suffering from a leadership issue is because the real statesmen don't want to represent them anymore.

somedude20 3 years ago

Seems that most Republicans prefer Adam to Eve and that is why they have 0 problems attacking women and going after their rights.

Armstrong 3 years ago

What rights are you talking about ?

Armstrong 3 years ago

Ok let's make it easy. Name 4 rights that are being attacked

asixbury 3 years ago

Their right to adequate healthcare services and coverage. Their right to choose for themselves what is best for their body. Their right to carry a pregnancy to term, or not. Their right to expect full, honest information from their doctor.

Those are just the first 4 I could think of. Give me some time and I will come up with some more.

Armstrong 3 years ago

All the above are rights women still have, nobody is threatening to take those rights away. The media has once again done a bang up job of working you into a lather

asixbury 3 years ago

Republicans are threatening to take away all those rights I mentioned. The bill that passed the House just recently includes an aspect of everything I listed.

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

You don't get out much, do you, Armstrong?

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

The right to equal pay for equal work. The right to be free from gender based and domestic violence.

progressive_thinker 3 years ago

Right to vote. Remember that the voter ID/proof of citizenship requirements hit women much harder than they do men.

somedude20 3 years ago

It is not my job to inform you but if you have not heard about Wisconsin's (R) Gov who repealed equal pay “Money is more important for men,” If you have not heard about how women's reproductive rights (Kansas R Gov)are being taken away, wow. Use your strong arm and educate yourself. Not my job to try and make you smarter, explore and learn!

md 3 years ago

not equal - pay equity ------ big,big, difference

mom_of_three 3 years ago

"Liberal women are attempting to dominate women who share a different political and moral worldview."

When I stop laughing at this comment, I am going to tell Cal that "liberal" women feel exactly the same way from repub men and conservative and repub women. It goes both ways. When are these blowhards going to realize that?

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

Interesting to note that Republican women are running from their own party like a house afire.

Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

In an interesting twist, a number of political bloggers and pundits have started doing their own brand of "slut shaming"; outing female Republican legislators that vote for legislation that harms women (or against legislation that would help them). It's a recognition of the fact that it's no longer safe for a woman to walk into a voting booth and vote for another woman just because she's female.

Kirk Larson 3 years ago

The republicans consider motherhood work. This explains their opposition to contraception and abortion: it's the only job creation plan they have. Too bad they only want to create jobs that don't pay anything.

Corey Williams 3 years ago

Prove that they are wrong.

The only thing that Rosen got wrong was apologizing.

notaubermime 3 years ago

So let me get this straight...

Choosing between working or being a stay at home parent is something only women do and stay at home parents have a lot in common with working parents.

Yeah. I'm so glad I have Cal to straighten me out on what is what.

verity 3 years ago

Mr Thomas is just being Mr Thomas. What else would one expect? He is one of those people who calls himself a Christian but has only a fleeting relationship with the truth and quite likely believes the bile that oozes out of his mouth. He knows a great deal about distortion of the truth, so he is well qualified to speak on that matter.

I think the more important question is---why is Mr Romney putting his wife in this situation? Multiple sclerosis is a nasty, awful, wretched, degenerative disease. While the course of MS might be slowed by drugs, it is chronic and incurable. Someone with this disease needs to avoid stress, fatigue and even extreme temperatures, among many other things, because they can cause the deterioration to become worse. By running for president, Mr Romney is putting his wife's health at even more risk. Maybe he should put her health above his ambition and stay home and take care of her---he certainly can afford to do that.

I can't begrudge Ann Romney anything, I can only feel sympathy for her. I wouldn't trade all her money and possessions for my health.

Katara 3 years ago

"Can a career politician like Vice President Joe Biden identify with someone who doesn’t have the perks — planes, limousines, high pay and discounted, or free health care — he has enjoyed for most of his career?"

Mr. Thomas, you forget that VP Biden was something that Ann Romney has never been.

Mr. Biden was a single parent and one in a time where single fathers were extremely rare. Mr. Biden, having been a working parent, a man who had to balance work and family, has a lot more in common with the majority of American families than Ann Romney, a woman who has never experienced the worries and difficult decisions that come with being a parent that works.

Kirk Larson 3 years ago

And for most of 36 years in the Senate he took the train between Washington and his home in Delaware.

weeslicket 3 years ago

from mr. thomas: "Still, all of this is a distraction."

actually, it's worse than that. it's a bald-faced campaign of lies. was mrs. romney "disrespected" because she "chose" to stay at home? was this life choice one filled with "dignity"?

here: let's see what mitt romney has to say about it. (kindly note the expression on john mccain's face as comprehension dawns) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UySVgR...

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