Ken Blackwell / September 21, 2012

As Mr. Obama’s World Turns

It’s been twenty years since Vice President Dan Quayle left town. He was hooted and booted out of office. The press had a field day with his misspelling of “potatoe,” or rather, potato. What a dunce, they wrote. Of course, that is standard treatment for conservatives, Christians, or anyone else who doesn’t go along with the right thinking, which is to say, the left thinking legions of progressivism. No sooner had the former vice president left Washington for the greener golf courses of Arizona than social scientist Barbara Dafoe Whitehead took to the pages of *The Atlantic*. In April, 1993, she bravely wrote: “Dan Quayle was Right.”

It’s been twenty years since Vice President Dan Quayle left town. He was hooted and booted out of office. The press had a field day with his misspelling of “potatoe,” or rather, potato.

What a dunce, they wrote. Of course, that is standard treatment for conservatives, Christians, or anyone else who doesn’t go along with the right thinking, which is to say, the left thinking legions of progressivism. No sooner had the former vice president left Washington for the greener golf courses of Arizona than social scientist Barbara Dafoe Whitehead took to the pages of The Atlantic. In April, 1993, she bravely wrote: “Dan Quayle was Right.”

Dr. Whitehead could not be so easily dismissed. Her credentials as analyst and scholar are impeccable. The media could not distort her image or treat her with scorn. She was no Mr. Potato Head. So, she was largely ignored. Was that powerful article in The Atlantic the last time the liberal media addressed the issue of out-of-wedlock births with the sobriety it merits? Twenty years later, we see all the concerns of single parenthood that Dan Quayle addressed, and for which he was pilloried, growing and threatening our country. Dr. Whitehead’s article bears re-reading – every year.

The Family Research Council, is home to the Marriage and Religion Research Institute. Felicitously abbreviated MARRI, [www.marri.us] this serious think tank provides irrefutable evidence of the link between family formation, marital fidelity, and a healthy, growing economy. Those who think social issues – so-called – are mere “shiny objects” need to think again. The family is the seedbed of virtue and the basis for political stability and economic success.

Those in the pro-life movement thank God when a young mother chooses life. But no one should mistake the tragedy of children growing up without fathers in the home. Marriage itself is under a sustained assault. For a fast-food chain simply to state that marriage is good for mothers and fathers and their children, and seek to preserve that family forming institution, is to become suddenly “controversial.” And to be exposed to brutal bullying by the politically correct. Single parenthood is the quickest way to poverty – for mother and child.

The Democratic Party has officially committed itself to ending traditional marriage. For what else can happen to marriage when two persons of the same sex can marry and the rest of us are forced to recognize these counterfeits as true? If two, why not three? There is no compelling reason why not.

No one doubts President Obama’s formidable intellect. He has never been subjected to the kind of scorn and ridicule that met Dan Quayle’s every utterance. After all, as presidential historian Michael Beschloss assures us, Barack Obama is the smartest man ever to occupy the Oval Office. Thus, we all sift through the golden rhetoric of this amazing man. Historian Michael Knox Beran found this nugget in Mr. Obama’s second autobiography, The Audacity of Hope.

“[I] came to appreciate how the earth rotated around the sun and the seasons came and went without any particular exertions on my part.”

What becoming modesty: earth, sun, seasons. Wait! Did he say the earth rotates around the sun? Yes, he did. Where is our ready-to-pounce press corps on this one? I don’t know how they taught in fifth grade science in Jakarta, but here in America I learned that the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun. This is no small point. The rotation of the earth is tied to the movement of the tides. And the earth's revolution around the sun is the key to understanding the changing seasons.

Remember that bit about the seas ceasing to rise? Recall how climate change is a bigger threat than Islamists flying planes into buildings – or murdering our ambassadors?

President Obama has similarly mixed up the social science on family. His administration has given us “Julia.” She is the Every Woman fictional figure who spends her entire life looking to government for assistance, from Head Start through Social Security. The only man in Julia’s life is Barack Obama.

Social science unambiguously reports that children thrive with mothers and fathers who are married and who worship regularly. President Obama’s administration is not about that at all, although his own model family consists of a mother and father, married, with children who worship regularly.

I am not suggesting that we treat President Obama’s scientific gaffe with the same derision that greeted Dan Quayle. Quayle was wrong about potato, but he never suggested using potatoes for ethanol. President Obama is pursuing policies that defy science. Science tells us human life begins at conception. Barack Obama says that question is “above my pay grade.” Social Science tells us that children do best when raised in a loving family, with a married mother and father, especially a family that worships regularly. The Obama administration is defying all of this, from its lavish spending on the abortionists of Planned Parenthood to its gutting of welfare reform. And most dangerous of all, this administration refuses to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act and actively seeks to end marriage.

Let’s give the final word to Dr. Whitehead. It’s a sobering one:

More than a century and a half ago Alexis de Tocqueville made the striking observation that an individualistic society depends on a communitarian institution like the family for its continued existence. The family cannot be constituted like the liberal state, nor can it be governed entirely by that state’s principles. Yet the family serves as the seedbed for the virtues required by a liberal state. The family is responsible for teaching lessons of independence, self-restraint, responsibility, and right conduct, which are essential to a free, democratic society. If the family fails in these tasks, then the entire experiment in democratic self-rule is jeopardized.

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