John A. Quayle
blueoval at SGI.NET
Sat Jan 22 12:26:36 MST 2000
The Free Congress Commentary Swift Reaction
by: Nicholas Sanchez
Last Wednesday I was on a flight heading to Boston, Massachusetts. On the
flight I was reading a piece in the Washington Times written by Kate
Obenshain Griffin. In the article, Griffin tells how she left a very
successful career as a political operative after she and her husband gave
birth to two sons.
Griffin was a veteran of George Allen's 1993 bid for Governor of Virginia,
and then later as an independent political consultant. It is obvious that
she had a very bright future ahead in conservative politics. And yet she
left it all to stay at home and raise her boys.
As I read Griffin's story, I was heartened to hear that here was someone
who actually put the principles that she publicly professed into private
practice. In fact, in the January 12th article, Griffin took aim at
"conservative women.......[who buy into the notion that] we who choose to
stay at home are giving something up - sacrificing our brilliant future to
care for our young, who the experts assure eager, guilt-ridden parents will
be just as well off with daycare or babysitters."
My ebullience at the article's prominence in the Times (it was on page 2)
soon dimmed as I began to reflect on why this story was actually
newsworthy. Namely, that women who are in the workplace and who also have
small children are so commonplace that news of a woman choosing to stay at
home to raise her kids is considered atypical.
Most people of my generation (I am 24) had mothers who worked. I, like
many of my peers, was a "latch-key kid." However, this was not the case
with my father's generation. And yet now most everyone born after 1970
will see mothers with children who work - even ones who work out of
financial want, as opposed to financial need - as a normal circumstance; as
American as apple pie.
Upon arriving at Logan's Airport, I discarded my paper and thought no more
about the issue......until the next morning when I went to the lobby of my
hotel to get a bagel and a copy of the local newspaper. On the front page
of the Boston Globe on Thursday was a picture of Massachusetts Republican
Lieutenant Governor, Jane Swift, looking ever-so penitent and contrite. The
previous day, Swift held a press conference to apologize for "using her
staff for baby-sitting and moving chores...."
In a move worthy of Bill Clinton, Swift issued a non-apology apology:
"I'm sorry if I accepted help from my staff even if it was voluntary....."
Ah, so it's really okay then. Because these underlings wanted to baby-sit,
there was no real abuse of power in this situation. And I am sure that none
of these people were motivated to "help out" because Swift is their boss.
(This, by the way, proved not to be entirely true. Several staffers made it
know that they did not want to baby-sit, but felt compelled to do so).
When Swift was drafted by Paul Cellucci to be his running mate in 1998,
she informed him that she and her husband were trying to have a child.
Later, during the campaign, she became pregnant and instantly paraded
around as a woman who could have it all: a husband (who stays at home), a
baby (or at least one on the way), and a career (lieutenant governor - not
bad). Naturally, the media had a field-day over the revelations that Swift
had to enlist the help of staffers to watch her baby.
Where was the husband during these babysitting sessions? He doesn't work!
One local radio station announced that it would pick one of its listeners
to live like the lieutenant governor for one week: the lucky winner would
be picked up and taken to work in a limousine, and the station would
provide day-care for that week.
Naturally, with all of the hoopla surrounding this debacle, the most
important points were missed. Jane Swift did owe an apology to the people
of her state and to her subordinates; but she also owes an apology now, and
will owe several apologies in the future to her child. She has chosen to
put a career in politics over her family. And in the midst of this, she was
content to pass her baby around as carelessly as she would an inanimate
But as Swift runs around her state apologizing to anyone who will listen,
the rest of us can thank her. She has demonstrated that we all have choices
to make in life and we may not necessarily "have it all."
(For media inquiries, contact Robert McFarland 202.546.3000 /
rmcfarland at freecongress.org For other questions or comments, contact Angie
Wheeler awheeler at freecongress.org)
This publication is a service of the Free Congress Research and Education
Foundation, Inc. (FCF) and does not necessarily reflect the views of the
Free Congress Foundation nor is it an attempt to aid or hinder the passage
of any bill.
Free Congress Foundation
717 Second Street NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 546-3000 x450
Fax: (202) 544-2819
Project Manager: Angela Wheeler
More information about the Rushtalk