The Breast Pump in the White House.


This has been an historical election season; busting down barriers thought impossible only a few years ago.  From Hillary Clinton’s ovaries (yes, Hillary haters, she is a woman), Barack Obama’s bi-racial DNA and Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith to Mike Huckabee’s funny name, this has been perhaps the most colorful and inclusive American presidential campaign season ever. So much so that the rest of the world – at least the modern, Western, Starbucks gulping world – has taken notice and been in awe of the progressive state of our political system.   But one thing has been gnawing at me.  It’s the mommy issue.


 John Edwards, Barack Obama and even Fred Thompson, the aging TV star, turned blip on the presidential scene, each have really young children.   Aside from seeing gorgeous photos of the genetically perfect Romneys, or the cute Edwards children, Thompson’s toddlers, and the precocious Obama girls, the kid thing has been absent in the campaign.  Forget that Thompson is old enough to be his children’s grandfather and Giuliani’s kids loathe him – but you get the point.  Presidential hopefuls toting their offspring along on the campaign bus make for a sweet visual.  End of story.


But let’s swap the pants for the pantsuits and imagine if the candidates were moms, not dads of young children grinding it out in Iowa and Michigan and Florida for votes?  What if it were Elizabeth Edwards or Michelle Obama at the top of the ticket?  How then would the media and America react?


If we think the media skewer strong, independent women like Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama for being well, strong and independent, I can only imagine the fun they would have with the “mommy candidate.” Instead of Michelle sporting a machine gun and an afro on the cover of “The New Yorker” as the magazine did this week in a distasteful attempt at satire, it could show her carrying a breast pump dangling from her briefcase, as she’s about to fumble the “football” of nuclear strike codes.


So I don’t think it would only be Rush Limbaugh and his dittoheads attacking the mommy candidate.  I bet everyone from the Granola Mom to the grandmother in Middle America would take issue with a woman leaving her children to take the job as leader of the free world.


It isn’t fair.  But in our society we scrutinize moms.  Dads get credit for showing up.  Moms get chastised if they don’t show up all of the time.  We know that Michelle is a “good mom,” because she swears she won’t spend more than one night away from her girls even amidst the throes of an exhausting and rigorous campaign trail. 


While Americans question whether Obama is experienced enough to be president and examine his policy positions, no one seems to be questioning his ability to parent while in the White House.  It’s understood that Michelle will take care of that. 



Well, I realize you wrote this quite some time ago, but now that Sarah Palin has been named the Rep. VP candidate, we'll get the answers to these questions. And she's certainly not 'menopausal,' as you put it; she's got a 5 month old.
I hope women rally together to support a Working Mom doing the ultimate juggle on the campaing trail and in the White House. I for one could use the role model.
Part of me worries, however, that we'll all feel so inferior to her accomplishements (I don't have FIVE kids; I'm not running for VP of THE USA!) that the nasty sides of us will root for her to fail. Proving to ourselves, if you will, that it can't be done. So we're off the hook. Shame on us if we go down that path.


Gosh, this article bothers me.

I'm going to assume that since you are writing for a blog called Mommy Track'd that you are indeed a mother, but these kinds of arguments never sound to me like they come from a mother's lips.

Moms are different. A mother's love is different. Society benefits from mothers being deeply involved in their children's lives, and justly holds them to different standards than men regarding child rearing.

I'm a working mom, and I don't cry about how I can't be CEO of my company because my children are holding me back, nor do I attribute this to sexism. Mothers of young children need to be there for them at all times, so would probably rule out "leader of the free world" as a career path. If that's the goal, then maybe children shouldn't be in the picture... no shame in that.

I realize that you're employing some hyperbole in this piece, but I've grown tired of this argument that women and men are the same. We can be equal, but we can't and shouldn't be the same.