By Tony Perkins
If words are what matters, then President Obama used plenty of them in his second-to-last State of the Union Address. But for all 59 minutes, the President seemed to spend his speech — not communicating, but convincing. In this latest installment of presidential priority-setting, “legacy” seemed to take precedence over “leading” a divided government.
For his sixth turn at the podium, President Obama prominently featured themes like “family,” the third most repeated word of the hour. And while we support the emphasis, what we don’t support are the President’s actual policies, which undermine the family he speaks so highly of. As usual, his speechwriters were lingual magicians, managing once again to wrap President Obama’s extreme liberalism in a cloak of platitudes and conventional language. If there were ever a need for a presidential lexicon, last night’s address demonstrated it. (Even the Washington Post agrees with that.) Without context, the average viewer might think this President was a truly moderate leader. Only later do they discover the radical meaning he’s attached to his mainstream phrases.
As is his tradition, President Obama devoted large swaths of his speech to symptoms but refused to address the root problems facing our country. The research is conclusive: on every measure from criminal activity to academic achievement, to personal productivity and longevity, religious practice and an intact family produce the best results. It’s time for the administration to drop the failed ideology that our government is the source of this nation’s greatness and foster an environment that will allow the true sources of America’s exceptionalism to flourish.
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What’s “necessary” is not higher wages or a first-class education, as this President implies. What’s necessary, social science tells us, is a married mother and father, which is an advantage that only 45% of this generation enjoy. In this instance, we do need government — a government that won’t devalue family or stand in the way of its formation.
And unfortunately, that’s exactly what the President proposed last night in his two-tiered approach to motherhood. In a proposal that’s generating a lot of heat for the White House, President Obama suggested easing families’ financial burdens of by giving tax breaks to parents. The only problem is, those child care tax breaks are only available to moms who work for paychecks! In one of the crueler ironies of the President’s speech, he suggested punishing the women who give up their careers to stay home with their kids in favor of a discriminatory policy that actually de-incentivizes stay-at-home motherhood.
The message, Terry Jeffrey points out, couldn’t be plainer: moms who sacrifice and stay home are less valuable than moms who work for pay. Why does the tax code have to take sides at all? Instead of boosting the tax credits for daycare, why not increase the child tax credit and give families the flexibility to decide what’s best for their own family? Government doesn’t know best — and it certainly doesn’t do best when it comes to children.
Not surprisingly, the theme of discrimination continued, when the President said, “I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your life matters” — ignoring the fact that for millions of unborn babies dying under his abortion policies, life has never mattered. Instead, his actions have told every child, in every womb: “choice” matters more. Still, the head of the most anti-life administration in abortion history tried to strike a compassionate tone, saying, “We may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.”
But the credit doesn’t belong to the President. It belongs squarely with state legislatures who demanded more pro-life legislation; with President George Bush’s abstinence programs, whose effects we’re just beginning to see; and with a generation that refuses to accept the Supreme Court’s words as the final one. They are responsible for America’s progress — not this President’s policies.
His phony oblivion on abortion spilled over into marriage, where he seemed completely out to lunch on the country’s deep division over the courts’ march to redefine the institution that a majority of Americans still support. “I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in 10 Americans call home.”
A “story of freedom?” Not for the CEOs, sportscasters, photographers, florists, bakers, business owners, magistrates, service members, educators, pastors, athletes, and actors who dared to think outside the Left’s radical box on marriage — and lose everything in the process. Maybe that’s why “religious liberty” was so conspicuously absent from the President’s speech. In this, even the White House knows its façade of concern has crumbled. And if seven out of every 10 Americans are living in states with same-sex “marriage,” it certainly isn’t by choice. A handful of judges made sure of that, bulldozing tens of millions of voters in blind pursuit of the lawlessness this President has encouraged.
Amazingly, on a day that saw an Islamist attack on Yemen, an American ally in the fight against al-Qaeda, the President had the audacity to proclaim, “The shadow of crisis has passed.” If the shadows have passed, it’s only because true darkness has descended. An administration that ignores these threats and leaves Christians to suffer persecution at the hands of radical freedom-crushers here and abroad doesn’t know the meaning of the word “crisis.”
If the President got anything right, it’s this: we are turning the page. In fact, most Americans already did — in November, when they sent Washington a message of real change. Not the kind of change offered in veiled agendas or clever turns of phrase. But the kind of change it took to make America, “the greatest nation the world has ever known.”
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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