By now many people have heard about or read the remarks made by Democratic strategist and CNN commentator Hilary Rosen about Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann. She said that Ann “has actually never worked a day in her life” and that she hasn’t really dealt with the issues of regular women because her husband is rich.
In politics a week-old story might as well be a year-old story, but there’s always something more to be said and I’m going to say it – at great risk to shirking my responsibility to be both candid and civil.
Hilary Rosen and my wife, Sally, were born in the same year. When Rosen began her professional career with the Recording Industry Association of America in 1987, Sally and I had been married 11 years. We had three children and Sally worked for the largest law firm in Washington, D.C., at that time. One year later, in 1988, Sally chose to become a stay-at-home mom.
Rosen continued with her career as a lobbyist for the recording industry for 16 years. She never married. In fact, she describes herself as a lesbian. Rosen developed a relationship with Elizabeth Birch, the executive director of the largest homosexual rights advocacy group in the nation, and they adopted twins in 1999. Rosen left the recording industry to become an interim director of that homosexual advocacy group and then moved on to Democratic politics and CNN.
When Sally left that law firm in 1988, she came home to three kids. She was pregnant with a fourth child and took on the children of four other mothers who worked outside the home. Sally began home-schooling our children that same year. Oh, and I forgot to mention that my disabled sister had been living with us since 1983 (I’m her legal guardian) and Sally cared for her in our home for over 20 years.
When Rosen moved on to Democratic politics in 2003, our youngest of six children was 11 years old. During the time that Hilary Rosen was a powerful lobbyist, lesbian activist and Democratic political strategist, Sally raised our six children, home-schooled them, took care of the children of other women, cared for my disabled sister and was an LDS Relief Society president twice. Even as I say these words, Sally and I will have been “empty nesters” for less than one month, and that will be short-lived because my elderly parents and my disabled sister are moving in with us permanently. Because my parents and sister cannot handle stairs, Sally and I live in the basement of our own home – that is, after all of these years of serving her family and others, Sally lives in the basement of her own home so that her in-laws can be comfortable in their last years.
Now, I don’t know Hilary Rosen. Nor do I know Ann Romney. But I do know a great woman, an exemplary women, a working woman, who can relate to all women primarily because she chose to be a stay-at-home mom. And America is filled with women like my wife, Sally. They wake up each morning and grapple with the concerns of the day, mostly in the service of others. When they’ve had to work outside of the home, they’ve done so to pay the bills, not for self-fulfillment, though who could blame anyone for that.
All of us make selfish choices. But what makes America great are not our selfish choices. What makes us great is when we sacrifice ourselves in the service of others. It’s these people of sacrifice who know what life is really all about, and it’s these people who intuitively heard Rosen’s remarks and wondered what planet she lives on.
For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.