Tags: GOP | Wrong | Working | Teresa | Laura

GOP Wrong on Working Teresa, Laura

Friday, 22 October 2004 12:00 AM

I'm not sure how Teresa would know that, but as someone who has had nothing but real jobs for the last 35 years or so, believe me, it's true. And it's nothing to brag about.

They keep talking about choosing to work or choosing to stay home and raise children, as if most women today have the same choices Laura Bush did.

Politically speaking, this is hardly the moment for the would-be first lady to be making headlines for seeming to criticize the woman she would like to replace.

Laura Bush, former librarian and schoolteacher, never having had a "real job"? Ouch. Lucky no one votes for first lady.

Of course being a teacher is a "real job." Of course being a librarian is a "real job." "I had forgotten that Mrs. Bush had worked as a school teacher and librarian," Teresa later wrote in a statement of apology, "and there couldn't be a more important job than teaching our children. As someone who has been both a full-time mom and full-time in workforce, I know we all have valuable experiences that shape who we are."

But the Republicans weren't going to let her off that easy. Mrs. Bush was willing to accept the apology, but her husband's campaign, desperate to squeeze out a vote wherever it can find one, was not.

Karen Hughes, the president's smart working mother on the road, jumped all over Teresa for not sufficiently respecting the "real job" of women who raise children.

"I think it's very nice that she apologized," Hughes said, "but in some ways the apology almost made the comment worse because she seems to have forgotten that being a mother is a real job. ... Her comment threw an inappropriate wedge between women who choose to work at home and women who choose to work outside the home. I think most women - and most men - would be offended by that because most women want to be able to choose to do what's right for them, whether it's to stay with their families and work at home or to work outside the home pursuing a career."

Choose?

Did someone say we get to choose?

Teresa Heinz Kerry may be out of touch, but what planet is the Bush campaign on?

In fact, there already is a wedge between working and non-working mothers, as any working mother who has faced the disapproving glances of those "other mothers" who always remember what day the field trip is, or when the hot dog lunch is; those mothers who pack the best lunches, never have to work late, volunteer to come to school during the daytime hours so their kids will get the better teachers.

I jokingly call myself the chairman of the "negligent mothers club," to take the sting out, but it's not really a joke.

But the wedge only exists in the kinds of communities where Karen Hughes and I live, and even in my neighborhood, most of us don't have a choice. Not work? Right. Fat chance. Tell that to the bank that holds my mortgage, or the one that has the lease for my car; tell that to my credit card companies, to the colleges my kids are aiming for, to the summer camps, to Nike and Nordstrom's and Target and Ralphs, all of whom depend on my working to pay my bills.

You need a husband to not work, preferably a rich one. Laura stopped working as soon as she found one. Teresa stopped working when she found one, and then went back to work running his billion dollar foundation after he died. Not bad work if you can get it. Now that she has a new one, she's helping him run for president.

As for the rest of us, most of us are stuck doing what neither of these women do. We don't have just one "real job." We have them coming out of our ears. Karen Hughes is right about choice. The point is that most women, unlike either Teresa or Laura, don't have choices, and fighting about what does or doesn't count as "real work" is not something we negligent working mothers have much time for. Too busy working.

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I'm not sure how Teresa would know that, but as someone who has had nothing but real jobs for the last 35 years or so, believe me, it's true. And it's nothing to brag about. They keep talking about choosing to work or choosing to stay home and raise children, as if...
GOP,Wrong,Working,Teresa,,Laura
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2004-00-22
Friday, 22 October 2004 12:00 AM
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