I, and every conservative I know, have been eagerly polite, warmly encouraging to women who chose to work—from the very beginning, from the 1970s or ‘80s, when working women first changed the national landscape.
But that’s not the way liberals play it.
Not one Republican of national standing or any importance has ever announced that working mothers prefer dollars to their children’s happiness; that working mothers have chosen to let their children suffer a little, cry a little, and keep a little more sadness inside to satisfy their own vanity or avarice or (far more often) their husband’s avarice. Nor have I ever said such things to a friend, an enemy, anyone; I’ve never allowed anyone associated with me to say those things, because (this might be hard for Ms. Hilary Rosen to grasp) I don’t believe them. I don’t want to denounce working mothers, or any mothers. Working mothers do their best by their own lights. Most of them try their best to do right, as nearly all Americans do.
But that’s not the way liberals see it.
Nearly all men welcome the presence of women in the workforce because, on the whole, they get on better with women than with men. This is called "biology." Conservatives, moreover, back away automatically from any savaging of women. This is called "chivalry."
But liberals do it differently.
Some liberal men are cheering Ms. Rosen on. No doubt their wives work. More power to them. Probably their mothers also work; but some of these liberals are as old as I am, and perhaps their mothers did not work—until the 1970s, most mothers didn’t. Perhaps their grandmothers didn’t work. Most liberals, even your average liberal who is 22 and majored in communications or business psychology, can find a grandmother or great-grandmother who didn’t work. And it used to be that Americans stood up for their mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers. My wife doesn’t work, and I’m grateful to her for all she’s done for our children and our family and for me.
Money was not invented in 1970. It’s always been good to have. And even if my mother had worked, I’d be just as grateful to my grandmothers, not only for what they did for me when I was a child and young adult but for what they did for my parents. Many conservatives, many Americans feel this way. This is called “gratitude.” But evidently, liberals see things differently.
This is the president’s affair now. I don’t need his apology or want it, but I am standing by to see whether he will apologize like a man to Mrs. Romney.
Not one of those “if anyone was offended” phony apologies, which are apologies in the sense that “you may marry me if you really want to” is a marriage proposal. Will he apologize properly, like a man? A lot rides on it.
David Gelernter is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.