Not another Mommy War
April 16, 2012 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
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
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
Peter Bergen and Tim Maurer say reports of cyberattacks in Ukraine fit a pattern of a new and risky form of warfare.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Kirk Bloodsworth says DNA cleared him after 9 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. He is living proof, he says,that America's system of capital punishment is broken beyond repair.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Will Cain blasts New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for not allowing a charter school to open in a city building, saying the mayor has condemned the kids to failure.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1340 GMT (2140 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says the state's law, as written, lets someone take a picture up your skirt in a public place. But don't blame the court for upholding the law, blame the legislators who enacted it
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1514 GMT (2314 HKT)
John Sutter says the "gay Jim Crow" bills that are popping in up in several states are a step back for the U.S.
March 8, 2014 -- Updated 0529 GMT (1329 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says a court rightly sided with a driver stopped while consulting a map on his phone.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 2227 GMT (0627 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says words and sanctions aren't enough; the U.S. has to ramp up energy production and its military resources
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
David Speedie says it's important Ukraine's neo-fascist, anti-Semitic and anti-Russian parties are marginalized if democracy is to succeed
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1714 GMT (0114 HKT)
Sally Kohn says Republicans are attacking Obama's Ukraine response even as he is already doing what they suggest. Using the crisis for political gain is irresponsible, hurts U.S. global standing
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1552 GMT (2352 HKT)
Sean Callebs has suffered from debilitating panic attacks since he witnessed the electric chair execution of a convicted killer. He writes about how he got better
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 0015 GMT (0815 HKT)
Timothy Stanley says Putin may be using a similar ethnic justification for his Ukraine incursion, but that's pretty much where Clinton's comparison would have to end
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
Olympia Dukakis says home-care aides supported her whole family when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Families depend on them more and more -- but they are marginalized and paid little
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1751 GMT (0151 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says that as Russia looks set to slice off a part of Ukraine and keep it for itself, there are important lessons to be drawn; among them, brute force is not thing of the past
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 1743 GMT (0143 HKT)
Eric Liu says a China state media article that used an ethnic slur against U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke revealed stark differences between China and America
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 1351 GMT (2151 HKT)
David Logan says holacracy, an organizational system that gets rid of hierarchy, might work at Zappos.
Today's five most popular stories