Contrary to popular sentiment, Hilary Rosen is not an example of the worst of what faces the country from the liberal side. She committed a gaffe of epic proportions. When one commits a gaffe, it is often something that came out in an unintended way. I believe this is the case here and why, on its own, the fallout would otherwise fizzle. However, the statements are not isolated. They are not a one-time slip-up. She did not misspeak.
Instead, her perspective is a symptom of the much larger underlying challenge we are facing as a country in the battle for hearts and minds and, therefore, the political mindset that will shape our society now and in the future. Her comments are a symptom of an underlying intolerance for values that exist outside pockets of liberal majority.
Let's examine the comment. "Ann Romney has not worked a day in her life." On its face it has caused a firestorm of push-back from conservatives and liberals alike. Hilary Rosen certainly did not intend to imply that stay-at-home mothers do not have challenges. She herself took some time off from her career to stay at home with adopted twins. Yet this is one of the beauties of the political world--what you say and what you mean don't always come across the same. She's paying the price for what she said.
What she meant, however, is far worse than what she said.
Her clarification is that Ann Romney, not have worked in a salaried job while raising children, cannot possibly identify with the concerns of women since so many are single working mothers. Furthermore, she's rich, which means she could afford the "luxury" of staying at home. It is these two points that are the more subtle and more dangerous basis of what she meant.
In their part of the liberal world, no mother stays home by choice. Those that do are either a) dependent on government entitlements or b) part of the fabulously wealthy who hire nannies to do all the mommy work anyway. To them a conscience decision to sacrifice career and/or income in exchange for deciding to raise children and run a household full-time does not or should not exist. To them, those that do are throwbacks to another time in American history and do not represent reality. Worse, they are to be scoffed at, derided, and sneered at.
In their world, women work, and should work, because they a) need the income or b) do not want to impact their career by taking time off. There is nothing wrong with this perspective on its own. As Ann Romney stated, it's important to respect the decisions women make--she wasn't just referring to herself. The concern is the intolerance for decisions that do not reflect their own from either side. It is possible to be tolerant of others' decisions. You make your choice and I make mine and it's all good. Intolerance comes from insecurity in one's decision or from a desire for the country to be rid of traditional values.
Regardless of the reasons behind the mindset that traditional, conservative culture is bad as it exists outside the two coasts and other liberal centers of thought, such as higher education, it is dangerous, because the more it is allowed to be considered as mainstream, the more acceptable it will seem to all when legislation is passed one step at a time that eliminates and erodes many of the values the rest of the country holds. It is this progression that cannot be allowed to continue unchecked.
This is why Hilary Rosen has unintentionally given the country a gift. Not only has she rallied various factions in the GOP to unite against the larger and more dangerous opponent, she has put a spotlight on how "the other half live", i.e. those with different values, concerns, and goals from theirs and which need a representative voice in Congress and the Presidency.
If handled correctly, it will become more and more clear that liberals are less equipped and motivated to understand and address the concerns of working and non-working women alike than they would have everyone believe conservatives are.