Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It’s a great irony. Not cruel. Just there.

I’m in the business of conversation, recording it, creating it to illuminate issues, people, the many communities we cover.

But I was too young to hear the most important conservations of my own life, the ones between my biological teen mother and whomever advised her about choices in Cedar Rapids’ Mercy Hospital, after my birth, as she held me (which I know) and decided I’d be better off in someone else’s home than her arms.

This sounds harsh. Or bitter. A belly-flopper into a pool of self-pity.

But that’s not it at all. Sometimes, as Congressman Steve King said in Hampton the other night, you have to judge the cold, hard, facts.

“It isn’t about what your feelings are,” King said when asked how we should treat undocumented people who’ve lived here for decades.

Which brings me to a question: Who would I rather have had counseling my teen mother on the adoption/keeping me question? Mitt Romney or Barack Obama?

Both have laid out world views. They have public biographies. We can extrapolate.

Abortion wasn’t legal in 1969, the year of my birth. So let’s take that off the table, dispense with the gruesome specter of the bent-wire coat hanger and back alley. What’s more, Mitt Romney became pro-life only between the last two blinks of your eyes, so for most of the former Massachusetts governor’s life, his views were largely the same as President Barack Obama’s. Pro-choice. And the question I’m posing isn’t what they would have said to a pregnant teen. It’s those crucial post-birth moments at Mercy we’re concerned with here.

So let’s get straight to it. I’d go with Romney.

He’d look at the numbers, the odds, review it as, well, a divestiture for one party, an investment for another.

Based on what we know of Mr. Romney, it’s informed speculation that he would have told my teen mom something along the lines of: “Look, young lady, you are already one of the draining 47 percent who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. You want this baby to start life as a 47-percenter?

“Don’t you know how valuable a healthy white baby is to the Republican Party in Iowa, err, I mean, a loving couple who have no kids of their own?”

Bottom line: Romney wouldn’t fall for this sappy business we endure every year during social service fund-raising galas, where the do-gooders, between nibbles of crab-stuffed mushrooms and sips of Merlot, tear up as a single mother who had her first child at age 16 talks about how she’s juggling three jobs, maintaining the active status of restraining orders on two former boyfriends and getting an associate’s online degree in dog-teeth cleaning, and is damned proud of herself, too.

No, a single, teen mom keeping the baby isn’t the choice of cheers.

Boo her, hoot her off the stage.

She made the wrong call, the call of the 47 percent, a mother who has no shame in government cheese.

But Romney knows what I do. It’s better to start life a little farther along on the bases. Second is nice. Sliding into home, like Romney? Even better.

Obama on the other hand? He was raised by a single mother. In fact, he knew so little of his father he had to write a book themed on mere dreams of dear, old deadbeat dad.

I can picture our president now, sitting in that hospital room with that bedside manner of his, encouraging the teen mom, telling her about tuition-assistance programs, how he won’t cave on funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Women, Infants and Children program. He’d give her hope, encouragement, the sense that she’s not in this alone. You know, feelings.

It has to be hard to part with your own flesh and blood.

But if you believe the world is a cold, lonely place, where we commoditize life, slice and dice people into one percentile or the other, it’s easier to make the money call on an unwanted baby.

Where this is concerned, Mitt Romney is better-suited to do the dialing.