Politics & Policy

Momma Mia!

A mother lode of nonsense about women.

Some mothers like to care for their children.

Yes–it’s shocking, but true.

Think I’m pointing out the blindingly obvious? Tell that to some folks on the Left, specifically Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), the one woman on the Senate Judiciary Committee (which you’ll be reminded of ad nauseum in the coming weeks).

In the now-much-talked-about 1985 memo written to Linda Chavez (then Reagan White House director of public liaison), John Roberts (now Supreme Court chief justice nominee) questioned how “encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good.”

The reaction from the Left has been telling–and characteristic.

For starters, Chavez is a mom. Disparaging mothers in any way to her would have been dumb. The biting young Roberts, instead, it would seem., was making an anti-lawyer joke. I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that there was an underlying assumption there too: Homemakers play a deeply crucial role in society.

But when news broke of the memo’s existence, as part of a release of some Reagan-era documents, it was part of a Washington Post piece with the ridiculous title: “Roberts Resisted Women’s Rights.” Kim Gandy, the president of the National Organization for Women, actually likened Roberts to a “Neanderthal.” And days after that initial story, preparing for her starring role as Judiciary Committee Woman, Feinstein was far from laughing it off.

But Feinstein & co. really couldn’t ever laugh it off. For many on the Left, there is nothing funny about homemaking. It’s an oppressive lifestyle; honestly, what kind of sad person would want to be stuck at home with children?

Of course, many women do stay home and some even do it because they want to. In fact, more would like to: A May poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, Inc. found that “only 8 percent of moms say they would want to work (outside the home) full-time, if money were no object.”

It’s a slow “come-to-baby” conversion for many on the Left. Former New York Times reporter Ann Crittenden was a bit shocked by motherhood. In her 2002 book, The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued, she wrote about her own experience: “I imagined that domestic drudgery was going to be swept into the dustbin of history as men and women linked arms and marched off to run the world in a new egalitarian alliance. It never occurred to me that women might be at home because there were children there.”

The Roberts memo, as it happens, is far from the first time motherhood has come up in the context of Supreme Court picks. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, nominated to the Court in 1993 by Bill Clinton, proposed in 1974 that: “Replacing ‘Mother’s Day’ and ‘Father’s Day’ with a ‘Parents’ Day’ should be considered, as an observance more consistent with a policy of minimizing traditional sex-based differences in parental roles.”

And, uh, John Roberts is extremist? Problem is, many calling the shots on the Left don’t have that reaction.

A good number of the attacks aimed at political lightning-rod Sen. Rick Santorum’s (R., Pa.), recent book, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good reflect this same attitude. The book has ocassioned a name-calling extravaganza. One columnist in Philadelphia called him “wacky” because of it.

What has many in an uproar is this oft-quoted part of Santorum’s book: “Many women have told me, and surveys have shown, that they find it easier, more ‘professionally’ gratifying, and certainly more socially affirming, to work outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their children.”

He’s gotten some winning reactions (though none of them too unexpected during the course of a heated reelection contest); one commentator surmised he might be “on drugs.” My favorite, though, was in a mass e-mail from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which said that “Rick Santorum has crossed the line. His new book ‘It Takes a Family’ manages to offend women on nearly every page.”

Santorum’s point in the book, as he puts it, is that “justice demands both fair workplace rules and proper respect for work in the home.”

Oh, come on. That’s not mommy warring. That’s not judging any family’s personal choices. That’s just good civil sense.

But that might be an insane Neanderthal view if you thought that stay-at-home motherhood was “Perfect Madness” as one Washingtonian titled her recent book on the topic.

I find it helps to keep in mind a remark Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), let slip back in 1998 when I want to try to understand the Sophisticated Mind’s view of motherhood. On the Senate floor, he said women stay at home because they “want to go play golf or go to the club and play cards.” How about it takes a family to raise a child and they’d like to be there to do that work? That’s what most moms who are there are doing at home: Being moms.

America doesn’t all live on Wisteria Lane. The Left needs a reality check–and to get out and meet some non-desperate housewives. The country is full of them.

(c) 2005, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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