I’ve written before (though not nearly enough) about the ease with which Republican ideology moves from one fundamental, self-evident truth that all Real Americans embrace to a new, entirely contradictory fundamental, self-evident truth that all Real Americans embrace, without a hint of self-awareness on the part of the GOP’s pundits and politicians.
The essence of the thing is simply that David Javerbaum’s Quantum Romney is actually a major underpinning of the modern GOP. Certainly Romney is the apotheosis of the quantum wingnut, the Kwisatz Haderach – he who can believe many worldviews at once – to which decades of ideological breeding and social engineering having aspired. But the ability to believe, with conviction, whatever is most politically convenient at the moment is hardly his exclusive domain.
This time, the Republican bandwagon makes its whiplash-inducing 180 on the issue of stay-at-home moms. The motivator, of course, is the Hilary Rosen spat, in which (as most of you know) Rosen stated that Ann Romney has “never worked a day in her life.” Rosen’s ambiguity was unfortunate, because her actual point, that Ann Romney has never in her entire life had to worry about earning a paycheck to feed herself or her family, is entirely correct. Republicans latched onto the broader, admittedly reasonable interpretation that Rosen was dismissing Ann Romney’s many years of child-rearing.
So, as Republicans are wont to do when dealing with Democrats, they immediately took the exact opposite position with no regard for how it related to their formerly stated ideological tenets. And so you have:
There’s so, so much wrong with this whole thing, starting with the fact that Barack Obama has absolutely no connection with Hilary Rosen and had nothing to do with her comments about Ann Romney. But these are conservatives we’re talking about; they’re not big on nuance.
But Fred Clark really hits the mark on why this campaign, coming from the GOP, is so hilariously galling:
The “welfare reform” passed during the Clinton administration was based on the idea that welfare recipients would be required to work.
Welfare reform was billed as the end of the free ride for all those lazy moms sitting at home doing nothing except raising their kids and cashing their AFDC checks. The new law replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children with TANF — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. And TANF meant those lazy moms were going to have to earn that assistance.
Those of us who objected to this new law at the time argued that, actually, those moms already were doing work — they were raising their kids. This objection got slapped down by, among others, the Republican Party, which insisted at the time that raising kids wasn’t real work and didn’t count.
But that incredible screeching of tires you hear isn’t the Republican Party Line Car turning away from their platform of 16 years ago. Oh no, that car can turn on a dime, a dime four months wide, no less:
Romney and allies cried that Democrats had declared “war on moms” after a Democratic strategist said Romney’s wife hadn’t worked a day in her life. Romney’s camp said this meant Democrats don’t value stay at home moms and motherhood, while they believe that women who stay home are doing real work.
But for every Romney action, there is an equal and opposite Romney reaction, and this morning, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes dug up a video of Romney from just January in which the Republican presidential candidate said he wanted to require women who receive welfare to work outside the home, even if their children are very young. He told a New Hampshire audience:
“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” said Romney. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless.’ And I said, ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.”
As digby said, “It sounds as though he believes that being a wealthy stay at home mom is a full time career while being a poor stay at home mom is undignified and lazy.”
This fits neatly into one of those bedrocks of Republican ideology, the ones that don’t whip about in the wind – namely, that having little money is a sign that you’re lazy, while having lots of money is a sign that you’re hard-working. The fact that this is no way correlates with reality has never stopped Republicans from believing it, and it’s not going to stop them now.