The Catholic League: Making The Latest Mommy War Worse

By now most people have heard about Hilary Rosen’s terrible choice of words in reference to Ann Romney on CNN Wednesday night. Rosen is a White House adviser and a PR consultant which makes her choice of words all the more impactful.

If you didn’t, here’s the clip.

CNN has a complete transcript here.

When discussing Romney’s campaign and how/whether it’s reaching women, Rosen said,

What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues. And when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.

Guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we — why do we worry about their future?

The statement was pretty bad, though she may indeed have not meant to come across the way that she did. But many people understood her to be attacking Ann Romney’s decision to be a stay at home mom and suggesting that is wasn’t real work. On the contrary, raising five children is more work than many many people are willing to do, as evidenced by widespread intentionally low birthrates.

Add to this that Ann Romney comes across as a lovely person and that she’s battled cancer and MS and you’ve got a major PR crisis.

But it gets better. (-Depends of course on what you mean by “better.”) The Catholic League responded with the following tweet:

Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own.

Ouch. Not only is this not Catholic in any way, shape, or form. It’s simply unnecessary. With whom Rosen chooses to share her bed has nothing to do with her statement on Ann Romney and her experience with economics. Additionally, are we now suggesting that there’s something unCatholic about adoption? If so, then we’re going to have to revisit the core of our theology which is divine filiation…which is to say a type of adoption.

The Catholic League has done a good job defending the Catholic Church on many issues. But the type of response exemplified in the above tweet makes the same fundamental communications error that Rosen made. It’s completely off message and ad hominem (ad mulierem, to be precise).

It also sounds hateful/spiteful, not unlike Rosen’s comments. And that’s another sign of bad communications strategy. When you start spewing negative emotion, any constructive (even if critical) message is lost.

To a casual observer, the takeaway from CL’s tweet is that the Catholic Church doesn’t like people who are attracted to the same sex. And that the Catholic Church doesn’t support adoption. Neither of these conclusions are true. Meanwhile, any commentary on Rosen’s remarks about Ann Romney is completely lost.

Some other thoughts on Rosen’s remarks -

1. Why does she assume that someone without professional experience can’t have valid opinions about economics? Plenty of women who are not economists and financial advisers do a fine job of managing family finances. And plenty of professionals (economists and others) have been terribly wrong about the economy.

2. I continue to meet interesting people who have a depth of knowledge beyond their professional or day-to-day occupations. Some of the smartest people I’ve known never went to college. It’s the height of just about every -ism to judge someone’s intellectual understanding based on a few outward assumptions about them.

3. As I wrote/tweeted yesterday, “Will someone with 5 small children at home please offer Hilary Rosen the opportunity to babysit for 24 hours? And let her pay your bills etc.”




CNN, “Finding Jesus”, & Conversation
Los Angeles, Sunshine, and Pro-Life
Who’s Charlie Now?
From Ferguson – A Different Voice
  • Rockerbabe

    Interesting. The battle of the stay at home moms! One who is filthy rich with five kids and one who is a lesbian with two kids, who has to work for a living. I think Ms. Rosen is probably more like most American women. . . little to no economic security without a job or a profession on which to rely.

    I for one, find all of the mommy wars trite and unappealing as they pit one woman against another in hope that one [usually white, well-off, educated, etc] will win. Well no one came off smelling for looking good in this era of the candidate’s wife and the politics of rage. Romney using Ann as a symbol of American womanhood is as about as stupid as it comes. . .she’s NOT the one running for office or making the polices that will guide our nation into the future. Ms. Rosen misspoke about the value of stay-at-home mom [a increasing rarified event, given the GOP's war on the women, the working and middle class families].

    What Ann Romney really doesn’t understand, is that while she performed a valuable duty for her family and she should be honored for that contribution to society, she has never had to deal with the economic insecurity that most Americans negiotate with on a daily basis. I, and too many folks I know, have had to deal with men like Mitt Romney. . .greedy *******s, who will take away your job in a second, if it means more money in HIS bottomline. Irrespective of the effects on the workers or their families. So, the fact that Ms. Rosen misspoke, doesn’t medigate the fact, the the Romney’s aren’t like the rest of us, they are rich and we are their foddler for their business folly. That is the real story here. . .not that Ann was dissed.


    • Joseph

      Ann Romney has her own opinions. Okay. If she’s WRONG, then go ahead and debate her. State where she’s wrong. Then submit your own ideas. Debating ideas is perfectly healthy.

      But so far I haven’t seen anybody debate her opinion. They just dismiss her as unqualified to HAVE opinions.

      Well, one could just as easily argue, “Who is Obama to talk about the proper way to run a business when he was never owned a business?”

      I’m sure many of YOU have opinions on things based on your education or observations, not always EXPERIENCE. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be allowed to have a voice in the matter.

      And I’m annoyed by terms like “war on women” and “war on the middle class.” It’s ridiculous. Both sides just happen to have very different ideas of what will help women and the middle class. I doubt either side purposefully wants to hurt them.

      For instance, I (for one) don’t think it’s right to force Catholic organizations to pay for contraceptives and abortion pills. Is this a war on women or a legitimate OPINION?

      I also don’t think a massive federal government that spends far more money than it has (or could EVER have, even if it taxed the wealthy at 90% of their income) is sustainable or reasonable. It doesn’t help the middle class!

      Why is success automatically evil? What if I open a lemon aid stand and it’s such a success that I decide to open an actual store? It too is a success… So I open another store. Then another. Then an entire FACTORY for mass distribution! At what point have I done something so evil that it requires an “Occupy” protest on my front lawn?

      Is it the government’s job to decide when I’ve become “too successful”? You may think so. I don’t. But these differences of opinion constitute a DEBATE, not a war.

  • Cat

    Agree with the Rockerbabe: Rosen misspoke. She should have said Ann Romney has never “earned a paycheck in her life,” which would be true. And it would have made the point.

    Ann Romney doesn’t know how much of a paycheck goes for Medicare. She doesn’t know how much health insurance premiums are or how much they increase when you have a new kid. She’s never had to decide how much she’s risking her job (i.e., rent money) if she stays home with a sick kid. She doesn’t know how easy it is to find yourself pinkslipped for pregnancy, and how little recourse most women have when it happens.

    Basically, Rosen was right. That’s why the woman-haters are so desperate to change the subject to housewives vs. feminists.

    • Joseph

      Who are the “woman-haters”? That’s a rather extreme (somewhat paranoid sounding) feminist view of society. Let’s try to relax a bit here….

      This whole “controversy” is just a gotcha game… And such games are an unfortunate part of politics and presidential races. This is only the beginning! The two parties will no doubt have a LOT more “controversies” to divide us and cause “hate” and anger between us. Don’t let them succeed! Let’s not come apart at the seams now.

      Neither side hates women. Such talk isn’t helpful. It just plays into their dumb game. And I don’t want to be on that field.

  • Kelly

    Pia, I agree with you 100%.

    As an adoptive mom I am disgusted by what the Catholic League had to say on this subject.

    As far as Rosen goes, I am disgusted by what she said too, but i don’t give a flip about who she shares her bed with. That’s none of my business.

    Hilary Rosen is no struggling mom! According to this link:

    she banked 2.8 million dollars as the CEO of RIAA.

    She is a mover and shaker in the inner circle of the Democrat party.

    This president, and the Democrat party, are no friends of “working people”. Since President Obama has been in office, our income has been cut in half. We are barely hanging on.

    If he doesn’t get ousted, I fear for our country. I really do.

    I don’t care how much Romney makes per year. He’s rich, so what! Do you think Obama is POOR?

    All of us, as Americans, should be striving do to well, not sitting back hoping for government largesse. I want the government to leave me alone. This administration wants to have its hands into every aspect of our lives.

    I say, NO THANKS! Leave me the heck alone!

    • S. Murphy

      Yeah. I’d like to see a president for whom the $400 grand salary wasn’t a pay cut, or beer and pizza money next to their capital gains. That would be something.

  • Bob

    I’m a long-time supporter of the Catholic League, but I agree that the tweet was uncharitable and unnecessary. As for whether or not Ann Romney ever worked or earned a paycheck, I don’t give a hoot one way or the other. When last I looked, she wasn’t running for president. We’ve had some pretty interesting First Ladies in our nation’s history. In our cult of personality culture where every public person is an open book, I sure wouldn’t have the gumption to run for public office, especially if I knew my wife and children were fair game. Let’s concentrate on the candidates, and leave their families alone.

  • Tiffany

    I’d contend that Rosen’s words were clumsy, mean and poorly conceived — but even if she’d been precise about “paycheck” versus “work”, her bias is clear. My frustration is that more and more pols and pundits (add the Catholic League, too, now) are relying on these personal attacks when speaking to the issues at hand is the dialogue Americans want. What’s that great cliche, something like “One’s character is most accurately revealed by the way they describe the character of another?”

  • Pingback: Pia de Solenni to the Catholic League()

  • Andy

    I agree that Rosen’s word were in-artful and inappropriate, but her contention was correct – Ann Romney doesn’t realize the problems of the common stay-at-home or working mother. One of her prime defenders has been her nanny – I don’t know many folks who have a nanny. She has a horrific disease MS – but she can afford the best of treatments. Those two facts put her in a different place then most families in America.

    The comments by the Catholic League seem to be in keeping with their belief that no liberal should go unattacked. This is both wrong in terms of the Catholic faith and wrong in terms of humanity.

  • Matthew

    Not sure about agreement or disagreement but I do wish you were as charitable in your interpretation of CL as you were of Rosen. It seems unfair to read Rosen with charitable / postive spin or disposition and then read the CL remark as offensively as possible.

    Just a thought!

  • Nina

    There’s a way to read the CL tweet charitably? Really? I cringe every time I see Bill Donohue claim he represents the Catholic Church as if he’s been given some official capacity to do so. I am embarrassed for the Church, for Mr. Donohue and for Catholics such as myself who would very much prefer not to be represented by the Catholic League, thankyouverymuch.

    The whole Rosen/Romney fuss was a tempest in a teapot but was whipped up by the usual suspects for the usual purposes this election year. Big yawn all around. Hardly worth the several nasty tweets in response by Bill Donohue.

  • Ted Seeber

    Ever read the Catechism of the Catholic Church? I quote:



    Chastity and homosexuality

    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, 141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” 142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.


    Does that sound like the type of person you would want adopting and raising children? Who might pass on this disorder, since the psychological explanation of how this disorder comes to be is unknown?

    • Benna

      Thank you, Ted. I just started reading the site, recommended on another blog, but was about to leave it, when I saw your comment.

      Perhaps the author of this article did not mean to, but the message to me also came across as not caring about one of JP2′s speeches – that children deserve and need a father and a mother.

      Anyway, I will come back and check this site again.

  • Greg Mockeridge

    If I am not mistaken, Hillary Rosen is a lesbian. And while the Church has nothing against adoption, the logical conclusion to draw from that is that children should not be adopted by same sex couples per Church teaching. If the former is true, the CL is correct.

    That being said, I think Pia is dead on when she says that the way the CL went about their critque of Ms Rosen was absolutely wrong headed, uncharitable, and downright stupid.

    I am glad to see someone with Pia’s level of formal education point out the fact that college degrees are not a necessary indicator of one’s intellectual prowess. I find it both flaterring and disturbing when I, with my Detroit Public high school education, seem to undertand the fundamentals of a given subject better than those who have advanced degrees in the subject. Of course, I respect a college education.

    As far as housewives and economics goes, many housewives later become successful businessmen after they raise their kids. So, I would listen carefully to what a stay at home mom says about economics and other social issues. Remember, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

  • love the girls

    Miss Pia writes : “Additionally, are we now suggesting that there‚Äôs something unCatholic about adoption?”

    How adoption is now typically approached by Catholics is unCatholic.

    Babies belong with their mothers, but yet it’s all too common to find Catholics praising girls for giving up their babies. Or praising those who adopt babies. Adoption should be looked at as the most unfortunate of last resorts not as a good.