It was only a matter of time before Republicans in Wisconsin and across the nation made some halfhearted attempt to cover up their incredibly nasty, organized campaign against women before the 2012 elections.
After all, it’s been quite a run for white, male, anti-women Republicans. You had Gov. Scott Walker merrily signing laws repealing the right of Wisconsin women to sue for pay discrimination in state courts, ending funding of Planned Parenthood breast cancer screenings, allowing abstinence-only sex education that fails to provide teenagers with accurate information about contraception and inventing new obstacles for women seeking abortions.
Anyone fooled by Walker’s bland rhetoric about such vicious, anti-woman legislation only had to tune in to Republican state Sen. Glenn Grothman, author of the law preventing women’s lawsuits against pay discrimination, explaining that women were paid less than men because money wasn’t as important to the ladies.
Elsewhere, Republicans were attempting to stop insurance plans from paying for contraception and barbarically voting that any woman wanting an abortion be physically violated with invasive, vaginal ultrasound equipment.
What in the world could Republicans find to counteract such a relentlessly ugly crusade against women and claim their party was the true friend of, you know, chicks who vote?
Well, it wasn’t much, but some female Democrat you never heard of said on television that Ann Romney, Mitt’s spouse, wasn’t a very reliable adviser on women’s issues because she “never worked a day in her life.”
Whoa! Was that an attack on motherhood from the Democratic Party that Republicans heard? Now there’s an issue Republicans can sink their teeth into. Republicans are definitely in favor of motherhood, at least for the wealthy.
Ann Romney’s first awkward response was to throw her kids under the bus. Anybody who thought she didn’t work “should have come to my house when those five boys were causing so much trouble. It wasn’t so easy.”
Then in what Ann must have viewed as the clincher, she said: “My career choice was to be a mother.”
Motherhood as a Career?
Motherhood as a career choice is actually a debate worth having in this country. But it is surely not one Republicans really want their candidate or his wife to raise.
That’s because welfare reform, begun in Wisconsin under former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, who is now running for the U.S. Senate, outlawed the “career choice” of motherhood for millions of poor mothers across the country.
No longer would poor mothers be able to lie around in hammocks eating bonbons while their children were growing. They were required under welfare laws to work, most often at minimum-wage jobs that did nothing to lift their families out of poverty.
And after women used up their lifetime limit of welfare assistance—five years in Wisconsin, and only two in Arkansas—then so much for the career choice of motherhood.
What if enormous tax cuts for the wealthy during two wars and unregulated doubledealing on Wall Street and in the housing industry resulted in the second-worst economic crisis in U.S. history? Tough.
Lifetime limits were lifetime limits. Having five unemployed applicants for every job opening was no excuse for the government to help anybody.
In the United States, only women married to wealthy husbands are permitted to choose motherhood as a career. Single women of color and modest means who want to be mothers to their children are leeches and parasites.
That’s pretty much what Hilary Rosen, that Democratic woman on TV, was trying to say—also, that most women today have to be extremely wealthy to choose not to work outside the home. For everyone else, it’s a matter of survival.
Having lots of homes helps. Nobody really knows how many homes Mitt and Ann own. They won’t say. Double-digit figures have been tossed around.
PolitiFact, which likes to pretend Republicans and Democrats are equally dishonest, published a column claiming the Romneys owned three homes, including that $12 million California mansion they want to tear down and rebuild even bigger. A short time later, PolitiFact added a fourth Romney home it discovered in Canada.
When you have that many homes, you need staff, including child care professionals. But even rich parents invest a lot of time and emotional capital if they want to do it right. For the Romneys, an income of $20 million a year also helps.
People of privilege can’t really imagine the endless struggle of single mothers transferring multiple children, in sickness and in health, on public bus routes between different schools and day care centers while also trying to hold down several minimumwage jobs.
Still, it’s refreshing to hear Republicans advocating choice for women even if they don’t really have a very clear concept of what that means.
Who knows? One day we may even see Republicans honestly pushing to end discrimination against women in pay and health coverage.
Comment on this article at expressmilwaukee.com.