Lauren Mayer: What Politicians Can Learn from Moms

I’ve long maintained that the skills we develop as mothers could come in handy in all sorts of larger contexts, like international relations (“Israel and Palestine, if you can’t share the Gaza Strip I’m taking it away from both of you!”), industrial pollution (“BP, clean up that oil spill NOW!”), or political gridlock (“Congress, you’re in time out – with NO SNACKS – until you get something accomplished!”).   And of course it didn’t surprise me that when we started seeing progress in solving the government shut-down, there were women from both parties leading the way.

Mind you, I’m not claiming female superiority, just pointing out that in general, mothers have learned to deal with everything from recalcitant toddlers who throw tantrums in grocery stores to sullen teenagers who swear we are ruining their lives.  So a) we don’t sweat the small stuff, and b) we know how to handle bad behavior.  Which makes it pretty clear that there is no one with those maternal skills advising Rand Paul.

For starters, a woman would remind him that tons of people have survived being accused of plagiarism – and it isn’t an attack on their personal character, just pointing out a fact.  But to hear Senator Paul tell it,  he is the victim of a character assassination by liberal ‘haters and hackers’ who are ‘spreading hate on me.’    Moms would tell him to stop over-reacting.  (And my mom, the retired English teacher, would tell him to stop using silly cliches that don’t make sense.)

Moms would also advise him to admit his mistake gracefully, and to issue a genuine apology.  Like we tell our kids, saying “I’m sorry, but it’s HIS fault” does not count.  Neither does claiming that everyone is picking on you because you didn’t footnote your speeches.

Finally, a modern-day mom would remind Senator Paul that the Internet gives everyone instant access to, and records of, anything you put out there.  So be careful about what photos from that crazy frat party you post on Facebook or what drunk texts you send to old flames (or what types of incriminating photos you text when you’re running for public office, Mr. Weiner . . . )  Which means if you lift entire paragraphs from Wikipedia, you really can’t deny it when you get caught.

Lacking such maternal wisdom, Rand Paul has not handled this fairly minor crisis very well, which isn’t great for his Presidential aspirations – but it’s been great for humorists!  (And like I always advise my kids, teasing is mean most of the time, but if you’re a public figure who behaves in a ridiculous fashion, you’re fair game!)


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