Kissel: Why So Long for Obama to Address Fatherhood?

Here’s another glimpse into the alternate reality that wingnuts live in every day. After the State of the Union speech, during which President Obama talked about the need to strengthen families and encourage fathers to raise their children, Mary Kissel of the Wall Street Journal talked to Ralph Reed and asked him, “Why did it take four years for the president to address these issues?”

Reed’s response:

I really don’t know, Mary. It’s inexplicable.

You mean like a few months after he took office in 2009, when he held a town hall meeting with young men on the lawn of the White House specifically on fatherhood and families? When he said things like this:

And when fathers are absent – when they abandon their responsibilities to their children – we know the damage that that does to our families. Some of you know the statistics: Children who grow up without fathers are more likely to drop out of school and wind up in prison. They’re more likely to have substance abuse problems, run away from home, and become teenage parents themselves.

And I say this as someone who grew up without a father in my own life. I had a heroic mom and wonderful grandparents who helped raise me and my sister, and it’s because of them that I’m able to stand here today. But despite all their extraordinary love and attention, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel my father’s absence. That’s something that leaves a hole in a child’s heart that a government can’t fill…

If we want our children to succeed in life, we need fathers to step up. We need fathers to understand that their work doesn’t end with conception – that what truly makes a man a father is the ability to raise a child and invest in that child.

We need fathers to be involved in their kids’ lives not just when it’s easy – not just during the afternoons in the park or at the zoo, when it’s all fun and games – but when it’s hard, when young people are struggling, and there aren’t any quick fixes or easy answers, and that’s when young people need compassion and patience, as well as a little bit of tough love.

Now, this is a challenge even in good times. And it can be especially tough during times like these, when parents have a lot on their minds – they’re worrying about keeping their jobs, or keeping their homes or their health care, paying their bills, trying to give their children the same opportunities that they had. And so it’s understandable that parents get concerned, some fathers who feel they can’t support their families, get distracted. And even those who are more fortunate may be physically present, but emotionally absent.

I know that some of the young men who are here today might have their own concerns one day about being a dad. Some of you might be worried that if you didn’t have a father, then you don’t know how to be one when your turn comes. Some of you might even use that as an excuse, and say, “Well, if my dad wasn’t around, why should I be?”

Let’s be clear: Just because your own father wasn’t there for you, that’s not an excuse for you to be absent also – it’s all the more reason for you to be present. There’s no rule that says that you have to repeat your father’s mistakes. Just the opposite – you have an obligation to break the cycle and to learn from those mistakes, and to rise up where your own fathers fell short and to do better than they did with your own children.

That’s what I’ve tried to do in my life. When my daughters were born, I made a pledge to them, and to myself, that I would do everything I could to give them some things I didn’t have. And I decided that if I could be one thing in life, it would be to be a good father.

You would think that social conservatives would praise the president for delivering that kind of message to young men, but doing so would not fit their “Obama hates families and wants to destroy them” narrative. So as always, they just pretend it doesn’t exist.

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  • Next up on Fox News…why having a father in the house is bad for kids!

    Because anything Obama declares to be good must be bad. And vice versa.

  • dingojack

    Notice that Obama hasn’t mentioned ‘Big Trouble in Little China’*. Why not? Is it some ‘lean’ toward the People’s Republic of China? Perhaps he’s secretly a Chinese agent: (And etc.)



    * neither did George the Least, perhaps that’s a connection ‘they’ (who ever the fuck ‘they’ are) don’t want you to ‘know’….


  • imrryr

    Perhaps Mr. Reed is related to that guy who occasionally comes here asking why Ed never has anything bad to say about Obama or Muslims?

  • AsqJames

    Mano had an interesting post the other day that may be relevant (at least regarding the racial stereotypes connected to this issue). This is quoted from Are We Getting Smarter? Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century by James R. Flynn:

    For every 100 American non-Hispanic white women of marriageable age, there are 86 promising spouses, that is, men who are alive, not in jail, and worked at least half-time over the previous 12 months. For every 100 Hispanic white women, there are 96 promising spouses, as a result of a huge (and partially illegal) influx of males from South America. For every 100 black women, there are 57 promising spouses, which is to say that almost half of them must either go childless or have a child by a man unpromising as a permanent partner (Flynn, 2008).

    And from Obama’s 2009 remarks quoted by Ed:

    Children who grow up without fathers are more likely to drop out of school and wind up in prison.

    Clearly there’s a cycle or feedback loop that needs to be broken. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know lecturing young men on their responsibilities (however much I might agree with the concept of paternal responsibility) isn’t going to get a high school drop out a job or prevent a racist justice system from sending him to jail.

  • ““Why did it take four years for the president to address these issues?”

    Reed’s response:

    “I really don’t know, Mary. It’s inexplicable.””

    Because President Obama was busy BEING a father, instead of blathering nonsensically on the radio?

  • Oh, sure, but why did he never mention it in between points A and F? (Later, “Oh, sure, but why did he never mention it in between points B and F?”, etc)

  • cjcolucci

    Nice catch, but I think the real issue is that, whatever praiseworthy family-oriented things Barack Obama says as Barack Obama or does as Barack Obama, Barack Obama as President knows that there is only so much that government can do, and that most of what government actually can do would be strongly opposed by the crowd that thinks gay-bashing, anti-feminism, censorship, and theocracy is an agenda for promoting strong, responsible families.

  • genotypical

    Wait a minute–didn’t this Obama guy write an entire book called “Dreams of My Father”? Wonder what that was about? Or is it just that Mr. Reed can’t read?

  • genotypical

    Oops, I mean “Dreams From My Father”. Still puts me waaaay ahead of Reed in the memory stakes.

  • vmanis1

    Asking Ralph Reed anything about social issues is like asking Herman Cain how to make a good pizza.