Politics & Policy

“Real” Work

Teresa's latest contribution.

For someone who worked briefly at the U.N. (before inheriting a condiment empire), Teresa Heinz Kerry isn’t very diplomatic. This says a lot about the U.N. and Heinz Kerry, but is not meant as a disparagement of condiments, which are generally a good thing.

Heinz Kerry’s latest contribution to the political discourse was to claim that Laura Bush hasn’t worked at a “real job…since she’s been grown up.” Hmmm. Apparently Laura has spent her adult life eating bon bons and doing Soap Opera Digest crossword puzzles.

This comes just a few days after Mrs. Edwards ragged on Mrs. Cheney for, apparently, not loving her daughter. This, I think, marks the first presidential campaign in modern history in which both of the wives of one ticket’s candidates have gone out of their way to blatantly insult the wives of the other’s.

Laura Bush’s mother-in-law had a word for the kind of woman who would dish out such insults. If memory serves, the word rhymed with “witch.”

Well, we can’t all inherit a ketchup conglomerate. But Laura Bush didn’t have to marry the principal to become a teacher, and she didn’t cozy up to the head librarian for that job either. She worked, she studied, she earned them.

And Laura Bush worked in the Texas public schools, serving the public. She didn’t choose some cushy career. Not that providing relish isn’t a public service of some kind. Relish is good. As is ketchup.

Then Mrs. Bush gave up her librarian and schoolteacher career to raise her children. Which, in the world of Heinz Kerry, apparently doesn’t count because being a mother is not a “real job” for a “grown up.” Wait a minute, weren’t we all supposed to call Heinz Kerry “Mother T”?

And then there’s me. I haven’t had a job outside the home since about 1991. Oh, I had plenty of “real jobs” before then. I’d go to “real offices” and take “real coffee breaks” just like all the other grown-ups. Then I started having “real babies” so I started hustling up freelance work I could do at home “real fast.” That choice allowed me to be with the kids and work at the same time.

I know moms who work at home and moms who work in offices and moms who work full-time at being moms. We’re all moms–we all give each other respect and support. Then again, I don’t know any billionaire condiment queens. Not that there’s anything wrong with condiments. Ketchup, in particular, is very good whether in small packets or large flip-top easy-squeeze bottles.

Apparently, Heinz Kerry’s age (66) is another reason she’s vastly more “grown up” than Laura Bush (57). “I’m older, and my validation of what I do is a little bigger.” What the heck is Heinz Kerry talking about? One would think Laura Bush’s age would be something that Heinz Kerry would be happy about. The number 57 has been very good to the Heinz’s for generations.

Well, Heinz Kerry apologized pretty fast for her loony comments (sorta). Someone in the Kerry camp must have kicked her in the shins and shown her Laura Bush’s latest approval ratings, which are up in the 500 percent range. I guess Lynne Cheney’s poll ratings are slightly below 500 percent since we’ve yet to hear an apology from Mrs. Edwards for her loony comments.

We’ve seen Laura Bush on the job every day for almost four years now. It doesn’t involve sitting in board meetings and deciding which foreign country you’ll pick to outsource your pickle slicing to. No knock on pickles. Love pickles.

If Teresa Heinz Kerry thinks it’s not real work to raise kids while representing the greatest country in the world and to run the White House and have to entertain Larry King during his Christmas special, she might want to think twice about this gig.

Susan Konig, a journalist, has just written a book, Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road (And Other Lies I Tell My Children), which will be published in Spring 2005.

Susan Konig is a journalist who writes frequently for National Review. She is the author of Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road (And Other Lies I Tell My ...


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