Republicans know how to read polls, and they know they have zero chance of winning the White House in November if women continue to give President Obama massive advantages.
The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll had Obama leading Romney by 19 points among women. USA Today/Gallup had the advantage at 18, CNN had it at 16 and Pew had it at 20.
They saw their opening when obscure Democratic consultant Hilary Rosen said Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life. Cue the outrage machine! Because, obviously, stay-at-home mothers work, and they work a lot. And just as obviously, Rosen’s context (she’s a mother herself) was that Ann Romney has never had to juggle an outside job and motherhood.
Still, Republicans spent the latter half of last week tripping over themselves talking about what a noble choice Ann Romney had made, when they’ve done everything in their power to make sure only the richest have that choice. Because if there’s one thing Republicans have made sure we understand, it’s that poor mothers who elect to stay home and take care of their kids are lazy. They even have a term for them: “welfare queens.”
“Even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work,” Mitt Romney said, unaware that four months later, his camp would be arguing that stay-at-home moms are working. “It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.”
Those sentiments echoed what he wrote in his book. “Welfare without work erodes the spirit and the sense of self-worth of the recipient, and it conditions the children of nonworking parents to an indolent and unproductive life,” Romney wrote. “Hardworking parents raise hardworking kids; we should recognize that the opposite is also true. The influence of the work habits of our parents and other adults around us as we grow up has lasting impact.”
So according to Mitt Romney, his wife has never worked!
These remarks perfectly encapsulate the conservative philosophy about mothering — being a mother isn’t work, and she can’t have “dignity” unless she holds down a job outside her home. That’s why they’ve done everything possible to make sure that poor mothers can’t stay home taking care of their kids. It’s why they’ve fought tooth and nail against unpaid family leave, not to mention paid family leave.
That’s a fact, as is the fact that Ann Romney has never held a job or had to struggle to make ends meet. While many working mothers have to choose between food and gas, Ann Romney chooses which of her Cadillacs to drive that day.
No amount of fake outrage will change the anti-woman record Republicans have amassed over the past decades. It won’t erase Rush Limbaugh calling a law student a “slut” 53 times because she stood up for access to birth control. It won’t stop conservative efforts to meddle with a woman’s reproductive freedoms. It won’t garner conservative support for paid family leave, or “equal pay for equal work” legislation, or allow poor mothers to stay home with their kids.
Until that happens — and it won’t — Republicans better get used to the term “gender gap.”
Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com).