Skip to main content

Not another Mommy War

By Joanne Bamberger, Special to CNN
April 16, 2012 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
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
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 0423 GMT (1223 HKT)
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1330 GMT (2130 HKT)
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2335 GMT (0735 HKT)
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1950 GMT (0350 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2104 GMT (0504 HKT)
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT