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.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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