Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 15, 2012

George Weeks: 'Never worked a day in her life' feedback

By George Weeks, Local columnist
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---- — Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney, took a widely trumpeted shot last week from a Democratic consultant who said she "never worked a day in her life."

Hilary Rosen, one of those talking heads we see on national TV, sparked a media firestorm when she said on CNN that Ann Romney, a stay-at-home mom who raised five sons, "has never actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of women in this country are facing." Mitt Romney had said he consults his wife on such issues.

While Mrs. Romney — owner of two Cadillacs — acknowledges, "Maybe I haven't struggled as much financially as some people have," it's the working mom issue that has backfired.

"The Mommy Wars in the middle of the 2012 presidential race?" mused the Associated press in joining the national media hoop-la about the comment by Rosen, a frequent visitor but not a consultant to the White House — which wisely distanced itself from the dig for which she apologized.

President Barack Obama noted there is "no tougher job than being a mom." The Republican National Committee on Friday whooped it up with a fund-raiser email pitch declaring:

"Whether it's for you, your wife, or your mom please consider purchasing this travel coffee mug for only $15 dollars, and together we can show the Democrats that MOMS DO WORK!"

Ann Romney said: "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work." While this hardly rates as a pivotal issue in the presidential race, I join in the fun with the observation that some of Michigan's first ladies "never worked a day" in their lives by Rosen's standards.

Ann Romney's mother-in-law, Lenore Romney, wife of 1963-69 Gov. George Romney, early on was an actress on contract with MGM. But her emphasis while a corporate wife as her husband ran American Motors was as mother raising two sons, including Mitt, and two daughters.

Lenore Romney's successor as first lady, Helen Milliken, wife of 1969-1982 Gov. William G. Milliken, was an early community activist while her husband was a retailer and working his way up the political ladder, and she was mother of a son and daughter. She became a driving force on assorted environmental and women's rights issues as first lady. But she didn't "work" by Rosen's standards.

I assume Rosen would give "worker" credentials to Nancy Williams, who was a World War II driver for the Red Cross Motor Corps while Gov. 1949-60 G. Mennen Williams, was in the Navy. They had a son and two daughters.

Many first ladies at the state and national levels worked many a day in many ways before becoming wife of a governor, including attorney Michelle Engler, wife of 1991-2002 Gov. John Engler, and Sue Snyder, who was in the professional work force before becoming Michigan's current first lady.

Judicial Legacy

In appointing Kathleen M. Brickley of South Haven as a judge of the 36th Circuit Court in Van Buren County, Gov. Rick Snyder Friday noted a heritage that extends to northern Michigan.

She's the daughter of the late James H. Brickley of Detroit and Traverse City, former lieutenant governor and chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. Snyder said she is "an accomplished attorney who was a pioneer in the drug treatment court movement in Michigan " and "has a proud family history of public service." Joyce Braithwaite-Brickley of Traverse City, widow of Justice Brickley, said the new judge had the support of Milliken "and was obviously highly rated by the State Bar Qualifications Committee. We are so very, very proud of her as she begins her new work in Van Buren County."