Why is it that politicians like to cite family as their main reason for quitting a job? Karl Rove is the latest. In an interview with Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot (bolds mine),
“I just think it’s time,” Mr. Rove said in the interview. “There’s always something that can keep you here, and as much as I’d like to be here, I’ve got to do this for the sake of my family.” Mr. Rove and his wife have a home in Ingram, Texas, and a son who attends college in nearby San Antonio.
In an e-mail to friends, he wrote,
Later this morning, it will be announced I will leave the White House by month’s end. It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve our country and this President. I have enjoyed every day of my service. It has been the honor of a lifetime.
But it has been over 14 years since this President started his race for Governor and over 10 years since the thinking and planning about a Presidential bid began. In that time, I’ve asked a lot of Darby and Andrew [wife and son] and now is the right time to begin thinking about the next chapter in our family’s life.
So call me a cynic. But does anyone actually believe that someone steps down from a lifetime of hard-driving politics to go hang with his wife and–oh, right, his son who’s already away at college? To me, the timing says a lot. When Karen Hughes left, she too cited family. But she was at the time in steep ascent, a loyal and lauded aide to the president. Not only that, but her children were of school age. I could totally believe her spin that she wanted to take a step back and focus on her family life.
(And whatever you’ve got to say about Bush as commander in chief, you’ve got to give him props as a boss for then taking her back with open arms when she was ready. Then again, as The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pointed out in this 2002 article,
This is an administration that wants to raise the hourly work requirement for single mothers coming off welfare to 40 hours a week. Without adding any money for child care.
This is an administration that bailed out airlines but didn’t cover the health care of the laid-off employees.
And while we’re at it, this is an administration that opposes a measly 24-hour expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act so that parents can go to school conferences or doctor appointments.)
Maybe I’m being sexist here, but when a male empty nester of 56 says he’s quitting a high-powered, highly compensated job for more family time, it actually makes me angry. It somehow mocks the yearning of millions of working moms and dads with small kids and grinding jobs, folks who can’t quit their livelihood to focus on parenthood, folks who tear their hair our arranging for someone else to do the childcare and school pick-up and homework oversight because they’ve got to bring home a buck.
Look, I’m sure he’s not kidding when he says his wife and son put up with a lot. And I can certainly imagine one does reach a point in a political life when one wants nothing but to escape the hurly-burly. I just wish these guys would man up and say so.