If a conservative is a liberal who got mugged, maybe a Democrat is a Republican who discovered the value of family leave.

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, who’s never made the slightest effort to hide her on-air Republican activism, returned to the airwaves today after a three-month maternity leave. As Pat Garofalo noted, Kelly invited Mike Gallagher on to the first show back, in large part because the right-wing radio host had criticized the fact that Kelly even got maternity leave in the first place.

Gallagher put forth a half-hearted effort, asking, “Well, do men get maternity leave?” Kelly would have none of this.

“Guess what honey? Yes, they do. It’s called the Family Medical Leave Act. If men would like to take three months off to take care of their newborn baby, they can. […] Just in case you didn’t know, Mike, I want you to know that the United States is the only country in the advanced world that doesn’t require paid maternity leave. Now I happen to work for a nice employer that gave me paid leave. But the United States is the only advanced country that doesn’t require paid leave. If anything, the United States is in the dark ages when it comes to maternity leave.

“And what is it about getting pregnant and carrying a baby for nine months, that you don’t think deserves a few months off so bonding and recovery can take place, hmm? … You can’t answer the question because there is no answer, my friend.”


I’m not accustomed to agreeing with Megyn Kelly about much of anything — I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day — but on this, she’s completely right.

I am curious, though, about the larger political argument here. The Family Medical Leave Act, which Kelly praised, was strongly opposed by Republicans in the early ’90s, even getting vetoed by the first President Bush for being “anti-business.” For that matter, in 2011, the notion of the United States joining the rest of the advanced world in requiring paid maternity leave would is a pipe dream — the GOP would never consider even allowing a vote on such an idea.

Given this, is Kelly prepared to start endorsing Democratic efforts to help working families? And what kind of punishment would she face if she does?

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.