‘”The Indignity Of Mitt”: Romney Says “Dignity Of Work” Only Available To Women In The Paid Workforce
Chris Hayes has turned up the video of a speech made by Mitt Romney in New Hampshire this past January where he spoke of his efforts, while serving as governor of Massachusetts, to force all mothers receiving government aid to get out of the house and into the workforce—or lose their benefits.
It wasn’t about the money. Romney calculates that getting these mothers to leave their kids and enter the workforce would actually cost the state more through the increased costs of providing day care for the children of these working mothers.
No, Romney had a higher goal in mind —he wanted these stay-at-home mothers to know the ‘dignity of work‘.
I know. Was it not Governor Romney who spent this past week exhorting the great dignity and hard work done by moms who elect to stay home and raise their kids? How does that square with his speech which touts his long-held view that certain stay-at-home mothers can only learn the dignity of work by getting out of the house and leaving the daytime care of their children to others?
Speaking to the New Hampshire audience, this is what the Governor had to say:
“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” said Romney. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless.’ And I said, ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’”
I thought that if anything had been established through the eruption caused by CNN pundit Hillary Rosen’s poorly chosen words earlier this week, it was that there is, indeed, immense dignity in the work of stay-at-home moms. So said the President, the First Lady and the one-time First Lady of Massachusetts—Ann Romney.
And, for what it is worth, so say I.
The Governor’s suggestion that there is dignity in the work done by women who stay home to raise their kids (this week’s meme) but, apparently, only when they have sufficient financial resources to do so, completely proves the point Ms. Rosen sought to make—even if her comments were inartfully uttered.
Rosen was not demeaning the importance of full-time parents and everyone knows that. She was, however, pointing out that Mrs. Romney might not have the best perspective when it comes to the difficulties of wanting to be a full-time mother when forced, as a result of financial reality, to enter the workforce.
Where Rosen appears to have gone wrong is in directing her comments toward Mrs. Romney rather than at her husband, the Candidate. I say that because I strongly suspect that Ann Romney ‘gets it’. I strongly suspect that Mrs. Romney does understand the difficulties faced by many women who want to commit themselves to raising their kids but need to earn a living to put a roof over the kids’ heads.
It’s Ann Romney’s husband who appears to not have a solid grip on what he believes in this regard, or is—yet again—simply changing his pitch to fit what he believes to be the winning narrative of the day.
If you believe that women whose families do not earn enough to support their families without government assistance should enter the workforce, that’s fine. And if you believe that women who choose to stay home and be a full-time mother is certainly a difficult and meaningful job—that’s fine too.
If you further believe, as most sensible people do, that being a full time mother is a noble and hugely worthwhile profession that can be disrupted when circumstances require that mom go to work to pay the bills, then welcome to the real world.
None of these options are the point.
The point is that Governor Romney’s desire to have it both ways on virtually any topic appears to be endless. He simply cannot tout the notion that a woman staying home to raise her children is the work equivalent of going to the office each day (which it certainly is) and then, out of the other side of his mouth, argue that stay-at-home moms with small children must get into the workforce as the only means of experiencing the ‘dignity of work.’
Mrs. Romney has it right on this issue. The experience of women who commit their lives to raising their families most certainly know the dignity of hard work. It is her husband who has it wrong. Unfortunately, it is Mrs. Romney’s husband who would like to be President of the United States.
Maybe we should waste this week in the campaign by asking Governor Romney to explain his contradictory perspectives?
By: Rick Ungar, Contributor, The Policy Page, Forbes, April 15, 2012
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